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Publishing

Cursed Child Blesses Retail

The numbers are in for the latest addition to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 & 2, and the book is strongly positioned to break records. The franchise will further grow with the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, slated for release on November 18, 2016. Although the Harry Potter licensing program has typically been small, compared to other blockbuster film properties, Warner Bros. has been ramping up licensing efforts with the expansion of the Wizarding World.

According to Nielsen BookScan, first week sales of the script book, released by Scholastic nationwide on July 31, were 2.5 million. Scholastic announced Cursed Child sold 3.3 million copies for the same time period in North America. Per Scholastic, the original Harry Potter series (published 1998–2007) sold more than 160 million copies in the U.S. and over 450 million worldwide. According to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey, retail sales of licensed publishing products were up 3.3% from 2014 to reach $3.65 billion in 2015. Sales for 2016 are expected to increase thanks to Cursed Child and other mega franchises.

The play is currently running in London’s West End Palace Theatre and continues where the story left off in the Harry Potter series. Written by playwright Jack Thorne with input from original author J.K. Rowling and the play’s director John Tiffany, the plot unfolds 19 years after the original series. And there is still more to come; the current book will be be replaced with a definitive edition to be published early 2017.

As reported by Publishers Weekly, Nielsen BookScan showed the mass merchandiser channel as the biggest winner for first week sales. While book clubs and retailers enjoyed a solid jump, mass merchants such as Walmart, accounted for 33% of sales. That share of is much higher than typical, with 17% cited as an example. But the channel is still struggling with book sales; even with the 40% increase in sales courtesy of Cursed Child, unit sales were down 4% through Aug. 7 compared to the same period in 2015.

Fantastic Beasts

All this is expected to further fuel the run-up to Fantastic Beasts. The film centers on Newt Scamander, the author of a Hogwarts textbook, and takes place in America in the 1920s. Slated for two sequels, the first will be released in 2018. Click here to see TLL‘s full list of upcoming films with licensing potential.

Here are some of the latest additions to Wizarding World program, which spans a robust publishing program, inspired-by apparel, toys, collectibles, housewares, stationery and more:

  • All films in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise—the eight Harry Potter films as well as Fantastic Beasts—will have a new U.S. home beginning July 2018. NBCUniversal’s multi-million dollar deal with Warner Bros. will take off shortly after Disney’s rights to the films expire and cover commercial television rights. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal is rumored to be as high as $250 million, which would make it one of the largest such deals in history.
  • The Noble Collection extends their longstanding partnership with a new collection of merchandise based on Fantastic Beasts.
  • Walker Books U.K. joins the Fantastic Beasts roster thanks to a sub-license agreement with Insight Editions. The publisher will roll out a line of interactive children’s books in October simultaneously with Walker Books Australia. The company joins current master publishing partners Scholastic, HarperCollins and Insight Editions.
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