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‘Star Wars,’ Marvel to Boost Disney’s Already Dominant Licensing Biz

Lucasfilm purchase to help Disney Consumer Products widen the gap between its rivals

When it comes to licensing, Disney is the undisputed king of the castle.

The Mouse House generated $39.4 billion in retail sales from licensing, dominating the category with 80% marketshare, according to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Assn., more than any other studio or entertainment conglomerate.

But Disney believes that figure could rise even higher now that it controls Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” franchise, the second most successful licensed property behind Disney Princesses.

SEE ALSO: With Star Wars and Princesses, Disney Now Has Six of the Top 10 Licensed Franchises

In fact, Disney Consumer Products said it’s “poised” to widen the gap between its rivals even further as it plans to grow the “Star Wars” business through additional licensing opportunities, according to Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products.

“The Disney brand is our most powerful asset and with the acquisition of Lucasfilm, our franchise portfolio has never been stronger,” said Chapek on Monday night during a Disney presentation at the start of the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. “Our rich and diverse content slate is full of opportunities to connect with the consumer in new and exciting ways through incredible storytelling and compelling characters. There is simply no better time in history for licensees and retailers to be associated with Disney.”

Disney Consumer Products President, Bob Chapek, left, and Lucasfilm
Executive Vice President Howard Roffman pose with Darth Vader and 20
Stormtroopers as they take over the stage during a private Disney event
at the Licensing Expo, Monday June 17, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay
Convention Center in Las Vegas. This surprise grand finale, presented to
 more than 1,500 licensees, demonstrates a new era of merchandising
potential for Disney Consumer Products¹ robust franchise portfolio,
which now includes the Star Wars franchise. (Photo by Eric
Jamison/Invision for DisneyConsumer Products/AP Images)

(Above: Disney Consumer Products President, Bob Chapek, left, and Lucasfilm Executive Vice President Howard Roffman pose with Darth Vader and 20 Stormtroopers as they take over the stage during a private Disney event at the Licensing Expo, Monday June 17, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.)

“Star Wars,” and Marvel’s “Avengers” and “Spider-Man” franchises, as well as original programming from Disney Junior, including “Sofia the First” and “Doc McStuffins” will headline new content and merchandising programs for Disney in fiscal 2014, which begins in September. For example, “Sofia the First” merchandise makes its way to mass retailers for the first time this summer with toys from Mattel, JAKKS Pacific and Jay Franco and more. “Doc McStuffins” will expand into apparel and home decor, while “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” will launch a Lego Duplo line later this summer.

SEE ALSO: How TV has Replaced Animated Films as Disney’s Biggest Brand Ambassador

It also plans product pushes around studio releases “Maleficent,” which will reintroduce audiences to Disney Princess Aurora; the animated “Frozen;” “The Muppets Most Wanted;” Disney’s animated “Planes;” and Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,”

Disney’s licensing business is aligned around five strategic brand priorities: Disney Media, Classics & Entertainment, Disney & Pixar Animation Studios, Disney Princess & Disney Fairies, Lucasfilm and Marvel.

“With the industry’s most extensive franchise portfolio that includes the iconic Mickey Mouse, the mega boys franchise Marvel’s Avengers and top film franchise Star Wars, it’s critical that we continue to focus on the consumer and devise a strategy that aligns this rich and vast library of content with key markets and segments,” said Josh Silverman, executive VP, Global Licensing, Disney Consumer Products. “Our licensees and retail colleagues are poised for incremental growth opportunities as we drive the development of compelling new products and retail programs that complement each other across the spectrum.”

“Star Wars” and Marvel’s superheroes are especially being turned to as a way to target boys. While new animated series “Star Wars Rebels” will help fuel interest in the sci-fi franchise, J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” out in 2015, will do much of the heavy lifting, followed by standalone films tied to the “Star Wars” universe.

Marvel’s upcoming films include this fall’s “Thor: The Dark World;” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (April 2014); “Guardians of the Galaxy” (August 2014); and “The Avengers” sequel in 2015. Disney XD will air “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” and “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” starting this fall, while the consumer products division will also benefit from toy sales based on products tied to Columbia Pictures’ “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” next summer.

Disney said the film is “a key part of a consistent web of Spider-Man focused content support for the next few years.”

Separately, Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb” are seen as evergreen properties, while Disney Original Movie “Teen Beach Movie” is providing the company with new licensing opportunities.

While Mickey Mouse continues to be Disney’s most valuable franchise character, Disney has been able to break out Minnie Mouse as a fashion icon with the character now ranking as Disney’s  No. 2 girls franchise behind the Disney Princess franchise. Mickey and Minnie will expand into apparel, accessories, beauty, consumer electronics and home decor in 2014.

Disney will also continue to grow its popular Disney Princess and Disney Fairies line through the re-releases of “The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition” this fall, and “Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition” shortly after the release of “Maleficent.” Also in the fall, Disney Fairies will get a new animated short followed by a new animated film in spring 2014, backed by retail programs and interstitials on Disney Channel.

Disney Consumer Products also plans to break out Tinker Bell by making her appeal to older girls through a new licensing program that will take advantage of new artwork and amp up the character’s sassy, feisty personality.

And the two-year-old Disney Baby line will introduce new produced inspired by Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Mike and Sulley from “Monster’s, Inc.” Disney Baby products are now available at Amazon.com, Babies R Us, Kmart, Target and Walmart, among other retailers.

Company operates 350 Disney Stores across North America, Europe and Japan.

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