WB goes on ‘Hobbit’ product journey

Studio lines up more partners around trilogy

With the first installment of “The Hobbit” out in theaters, Warner Bros. is looking to turn the trilogy into a major moneymaker in the retail aisle.

Since J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, on which the films are based, takes a lighter tone than “The Lord of the Rings,” Warner Bros. Consumer Products has been able to capitalize on the more family-friendly appeal of the films and lock down licensing deals with more toymakers, for example, this go around.

The Dec. 14 release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” a New Line Cinema and MGM production, also kicks off a three-year push by WBCP to launch a major merchandise program that it hopes will live on once the final pic, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” is released in summer 2014.

“The enduring popularity of the world of Middle-earth places ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy in a unique category of film franchises with the ability to delight fans for generations to come,” said Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “We work closely with our impressive roster of licensees to create products that capture the spirit of this fantastically imagined world and give fans a chance to immerse themselves, once again, in Middle-earth with their favorite stories and characters offscreen.”

As part of the worldwide licensing program, WBCP has inked deals with the Bridge Direct and Vivid Group to serve as the co-master toy licensees for “The Hobbit,” with the companies producing detailed action figures, collector’s figures and role-play toys. Lego is also releasing construction sets and games inspired by key moments from the films, while Rubie’s Costume Co. will release costumes and accessories based on “The Hobbit” characters, including Bilbo Baggins, Frodo, Gandalf the Grey, Thorin Oakenshield, Saruman and Gollum.

Additional key licensees include Weta Workshop, which is replicating props from the film; the Noble Collection, which will produce collectibles; and United Cutlery for replicas of weaponry. Apparel will be produced by Bioworld, Jinx, Trevco, TV Mania and Elope, while Funko and Hallmark are also producing collectibles such as figures and ornaments.

Toys and puzzles are also being made by Pressman Toy, Games Workshop, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Ravensburger and Eaglemoss, while HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin will publish tie-in books to the films.

Most of the products will be available at traditional retailers, although some of the products will also be sold through HobbitShop.com.

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