Marvel is gearing up for the release of what is promising to be its next mega franchise as it reveals what is in store for fans for August 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy.
"Whether it be Guardians or any of the new films, the long-term strategy is to turn [a property] into a franchise, which is a term we don't use lightly," says Paul Gitter, senior vice president, licensing, Marvel, Disney Consumer Products. "The plan is to release the film and have it turn into another blockbuster consumer product and theatrical initiative that will last for years to come."
|Paul Gitter, senior vice president, licensing, Marvel, Disney Consumer Products|
The film is somewhat of a departure for Marvel, rooting its characters in space this time around, a platform that offers many avenues to explore both theatrically and on the product side.
"[Guardians of the Galaxy] puts us in a genre that we have yet to do. The film focuses on space and galactic adventure, which presents a lot of opportunity for licensees, along with new personalities and new characters," says Gitter.
And Guardians does have a wealth of new characters to choose from.
The film centers on a rag tag team of galactic adventurers, some live action, some CGI, including Peter Quill a.k.a. Star Lord (played by Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon and Groot, that join forces to defeat a cosmic force. Specific plot points have yet to be revealed, but if previous Marvel films are any indication, such as Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3, which are the No. 3 and No. 5 highest grossing films of all time and the two highest grossing films ever released by The Walt Disney Company, Guardians will be yet another hit with audiences.
"As we've seen with The Avengers and Iron Man, Marvel Studios is expert at developing comic-based properties into major blockbuster events and bringing them to the forefront of pop culture," says Adam Biehl, vice president of global marketing, Hasbro.
For licensees, the Guardians property presents an entirely new genre to leverage and capitalize on.
The property will be anchored by boys' toys, construction, customization and role play, with early partners Hasbro, Disguise and Sideshow Collectibles already tapped to lead the program.
"It's thrilling to see the way that Marvel continues to expand the brand and broaden the vision for entertainment, bringing more and more fantastic characters from the rich comic history to the big screen," says Greg Anzalone, president, Sideshow Collectibles. "Guardians of the Galaxy offers a whole new sense of adventure in the great beyond of deep space, an exciting turn for the Marvel film franchise. As a licensee, we're excited that the Guardians offers all-new opportunities, building on the success that we've enjoyed with Avengers and each of the individual character films."
Additional partners include Mad Engine, Gentle Giant and New Era, and retailers are already lining up to place product on shelf.
"The demand from retailers [for Guardians product] is very high. The new genre is really enticing," says Gitter. "This time around, we've had a lot of interest from both mass and specialty retailers. We've got the ability [with the Guardians property] to span up and down, from as low as the dollar store to as high as upper-tier retailers."