Pixar, Disney Sever Partnership
Pixar will go it alone, opting not to extend its partnership with The Walt Disney Co. beyond the release of two upcoming animated features, The Incredibles due in 2004 and Cars slated for 2005. Tom Staggs, Disney senior executive vice president and CFO, says management could not accept Pixar's final offer because it would have cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars it is already entitled to under the existing deal, while not providing sufficient incremental returns on new collaborations to justify the changes to the existing deal. Disney maintains the rights to develop and produce sequels to all films created through the partnership, including direct-to-video presentations, TV series, and specials; and to exploit all characters and content throughout Disney's theme parks and consumer products units. Disney also owns the entire Disney/Pixar film library, which includes Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monster's Inc., and Finding Nemo, in addition to the two pictures yet to be completed.
KB Toys to Close 375 stores
KB Toys will shutter at least 375 underperforming stores nearly two weeks after filing for Chapter 11. Helping to conduct the going-out-of-business sales is a consortium comprising The Ozer Group, The Nassi Group, and SB Capital Group. KB Toys will identify another 19 to 115 stores for closing by February 11. The chain expects to sell up to $122.5 million of inventory through the liquidation sales. Roughly 3,500 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closings.
RadioShack Teams Up with NBA
RadioShack Corp. was named the Official Consumer Electronics Retailer of the National Basketball Association. The multi-year deal enables RadioShack to conduct NBA-themed national advertising and promotions. The retailer also is creating a new All-Star Saturday Night event, the RadioShack Shooting Stars, featuring current and former male and female basketball stars for a basketball shooting competition. The first-ever RadioShack Shooting Stars will be a marquee event at this year's NBA All-Star Saturday at the Staples Center February 14, 2004.
Discount Stores Score Big with Shoppers
It's more fashionable to shop for fashions at discount stores, according to Customer Focus 2004: Discount Store, a study conducted every other year by Vertis, a provider of targeted advertising, media, and marketing services. The channel was particularly strong among Generation X women (ages 28 to 39) with 34 percent shopping at discount stores for fashions in 2003 vs. 25 percent in 2002. In addition, 15 percent of upscale shoppers (with household incomes of $100,000 or more) shopped at discount stores in 2003 for their fashion items, a significant jump from 4 percent in 2002. The trend was similar with Generation Y men (ages 18 to 27) with 25 percent seeking out the channel to make their purchases in 2003 vs. 15 percent in 2002.
The World Almanac Gets Game
The World Almanac and The World Almanac for Kids brands are getting into the game business, signing a deal with Masterpieces. Geared toward the specialty market, the board games will hit shelves in summer 2004. The deal was negotiated by Marathon Projects Ltd., the licensing agency for The World Almanac.
Wal-Mart Hosts Special Events
Wal-Mart will team up with NASCAR for the fourth straight year on NASCAR Fan Days from February 2 through 22. During this period, products from NASCAR Fan Days will be featured in Wal-Mart stores. Each Wal-Mart store will support NASCAR Fan Days February 7 with "NASCAR Race Day at Wal-Mart powered by Duracell," where kids of all ages will be able to race NASCAR remote-control cars in Wal-Mart toy departments nationwide.
Sony Partners with Sega on Astro Boy Titles
Sony Pictures Consumer Products aligned with Sega of America on a PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance version of Astro Boy. The PlayStation 2 version, Astro Boy, is currently in development at Sonic Team under the direction of Yuji Naka, the creator of Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog series. The Game Boy Advance release, Astro Boy: Omega Factor, is currently underway at Sega's Hitmaker studios (in cooperation with Japanese developer Treasure). Both titles will begin shipping in summer 2004.
Little Signz Signs First Licensee
Playhut Entertainment gave the green light to Kappa Books as the first licensee for its homegrown preschool property Little Signz. As the exclusive licensee for coloring and activity books, Kappa Books will incorporate the property's array of animated traffic sign characters into a product range that ships in early 2004. The company also hired YMI (Youth Marketing International) to create a classroom curriculum kit for teachers filled with safety tips.
Licensing 2004 International Is Just Around the Corner
Visit the Licensing International Website at www.licensingshow.com to pre-register for FREE admittance to the Exhibit for all three days of the show and begin to make your plans to attend the most power-packed event in the licensing business June 8-10, 2004, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.