‘Black Panther’ toy sales fierce as film opens big
‘Black Panther’ toy sales fierce as film opens big
Toys and accessories linked to the movie, which is also making waves for its strong black female leading roles, have the potential to become an enduring presence in stores, like Spider-Man and other iconic figures, company executives say.
Toy tie-ins are a crucial profit driver for movie studios, even if each merchandise opportunity is not massively successful, experts say.
“It is a huge opportunity,” John Frascotti, president of US toy giant Hasbro, told AFP on the sidelines of the giant Toy Fair trade show in New York.
“We’re still in the early days of this, but it certainly has all the indications that it could be over time as successful” as other major franchises in terms of staying power, he said.
The movie pulled in an impressive $242 million in its opening weekend, a record for this time of year following strong reviews.
“It’s just surpassed expectations,” said Mark Robben, marketing director for Funko, which sells Black Panther bobble heads, plush dolls and fashion.
“It’s an important movie culturally,” Robben said. “That is then translated into people wanting to own a piece of it for their desk or for a t-shirt they’re wearing.”
The film has generated huge enthusiasm within the black community, but also more broadly — many see the strong opening weekend as a sign that audiences will embrace heroes that don’t fit the cookie cutter model if the story is well told.
“I think it’s filling a void, it’s serving a need and it will sell accordingly, and not just with African Americans,” said Kimberly Mosley, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.
People “are looking for a hero,” she said.
“Black Panther” comes less than a year after “Wonder Woman,” another big superhero movie that went against the grain, and upended the long-held idea that a female superhero couldn’t attract a large audience.
But while “Wonder Woman” did well in theaters, the film’s toys — made by Mattel — were not especially hot sellers.
“There’s been a trend around movie franchises and not all of them are seeing the uptick in toy sales that they used to see,” said Michelle Chidoni, vice president of global brand communications at Mattel.
Chidoni said the Wonder Woman offerings in its “Super Hero Girls” series performed well. The character’s long-term value had been enhanced by the movie and further boosted by the availability of the movie on streaming services.
“The toy doesn’t always perform with the theatrical release like it used to,” she said.
“Sometimes it’s now performing better when it goes on Netflix, or when it streams, when it’s more available to the mass consumer.”
Hasbro came under scrutiny in the most recent quarter after reporting a steep drop in fourth-quarter revenues connected to its movie licensing business that raised questions about whether the “Star Wars” juggernaut was losing its luster.
But Frascotti said the figures for merchandise linked to last year’s “The Last Jedi” looked worse by comparison because the company launched the tie-in products early.
That strategy had made sense in 2015 with “The Force Awakens,” given the significant anticipation for the first big release in the franchise in many years.
Frascotti said “Star Wars” nevertheless remains “very strong,” and the most sought after franchise in entertainment, and that the company would release toys with a shorter lead time ahead of future movies.
With “Black Panther,” Hasbro unveiled a significant line of products about six weeks ahead of the movie’s premiere and plans more items, such as a collector’s black mask on display at Toy Fair.
The current slate of offerings come at different price points, with more affordable and durable models geared toward kids and more detailed figures targeting collectors.
Frascotti expects “Black Panther” items to sell widely, irrespective of race or gender.
“Kids today don’t see the world along those lines as much as adults do,” he said.
“When you look at the world through the eyes of the young kids who love these characters, I don’t think color or gender is as big an issue.”
He noted that “Star Wars” characters like Rey, the intrepid female protagonist introduced in “The Force Awakens,” has sold well with boys and girls.
The release of new items will be timed to coincide with the film’s launch on streaming platforms or the holidays. Frascotti said those could be supplemented at other times, such as back to school, depending on demand.
Traveling back thousands of years by reviving KSA's Al-Ula
- The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition
JEDDAH: Bathing in the scorching sun of Saudi Arabia for the past 4,000 years and sitting among the sandy dunes of the northwestern region of the Kingdom, lie the country’s archaeological treasures. These treasures are even older than Saudi Arabia itself, and barely known to the world.
The area covers about 52 hectares of well-preserved land in which there are tombs handcrafted out of the rocks, relics from ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and the Romans, archaeological riches dating back 4,000 years and other priceless artifacts from the Ottoman Empire.
The somewhat forgotten land is going to be brought into the spotlight by the year 2020 as a historic collaboration takes place between Saudi Arabia and France.
France excels in the art of preserving history so it is the perfect alliance to meet the goals of making Al-Ula a tourist attraction.
Saudis are cooperating with France in preserving and promoting culture and archaeology.
The French consider this project so prestigious that Gerard Mestrallet, a special envoy of the president, has been appointed for Al-Ula. Both countries share a common approach to national heritage; that culture transcends all borders and should be accessible to all who seek to observe history.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as Al-Ula governor, the special envoy to Al-Ula and France’s foreign minister. Against the walls of Paris’s Musee De Arts Decoratifs — a wing of the Louvre Palace — sit the illuminated sandstones for the French to experience a sliver of Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage. The Royal Commission of Al-Ula (RCU) has signed an agreement with Campus France, described as the leading international academic and vocational public institution in France, to train young Saudi women and men to become aspiring archaeologists.
The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition. Public transport, hotels and restaurants are also part of the plan.
More than 2,100 people applied for traineeships: 200 young Saudi men and women will be trained by the most prestigious institutes in the world; part of the 1.2 million new tourist jobs are expected to be created under Vision 2030.
Cutting-edge technologies and methods such as aerial LiDAR (light detection and ranging), scanning and photos taken from light aircraft, helicopter and drones will also be used.