TV, Movie Merchandise Revenue Hit $51.4 Billion Last Year

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Next year could be even bigger as the 2015 box office slate generates more buzz among entertainment licensing executives

Next year’s lineup of Hollywood movies, which is expected to shatter box-office records, would have the heads of entertainment licensing executives bobbling … if bobble-head dolls were hot these days.

The smiling, bouncing little statues are still out there, but it’s a whole new world when it comes to the licensing of characters and celebrities from current TV shows and movies.

Apps, computers games, fragrances and clothing lines are driving an increasing percentage of the retail sales from entertainment-based properties. In fact movie and TV-related merchandise hit $51.4 billion in 2013, according to industry figures released Monday. Royalties from those sales climbed to $2.66 billion.

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“There’s still a tendency to think of licensing as toys and tchotchkes,” said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of the Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association. The group is gathering in Las Vegas for Licensing Expo 2014, which DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg will kick off with a keynote speech Tuesday.

Jennifer Lopez at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut for a satellite media tour to promote her exclusive fashion and home collection for Kohl's Department Stores“The fact is, companies have become much, much more sophisticated in terms of understanding consumer and fashion trends, and smarter about tying in to them,” Brochstein said.

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Youngsters are a critical market for the licensing industry, and they’re the demo group that has evolved the most, according to Brochstein.

“Kids are getting older younger. They are far more entrenched in technology at earlier ages, and more likely to be doing things with apps, computers games and such,” he said.

Disney, for example, last week unveiled the “Star Wars Scene Maker,” an app that will let kids (and maybe a dad or two) create their own minute-long movie featuring the images and voices of the iconic characters.

Along with “Star Wars,” there will be new “Avengers,” “Jurassic Park and “Hunger Games” movies landing in 2015. That’s a lot of franchise firepower for the licensing biz.

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“The good thing is that these franchises come with a built-in fan base and have a track record of satisfying those consumers with well-made movies,” Brochstein said. “The challenge is to be more creative in terms of the merchandise you offer.”

TV and celebrities as well as movies make up the entertainment licensing sector, which is that industry’s largest and provided 42 percent of the $116 billion that it generated overall in retail sales in 2013. Corporate and brand names, fashion lines from celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and sports are the next biggest sectors.

Fire and Blood beer, tied in with TV’s “Game of Thrones” by Cooperstown, N.Y.-based artisan brewery Ommegang, is an example of the sort of creativity today’s evolved and more crowded market demands, Brochstein said.

“It works because it seems organic to the story line of the show and they executed it well,” Brochstein said.