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Movie Licensing

Sequels and Spinoffs and Standalones, Oh My; Studios are Developing a Wealth of Licensable Projects Through 2020

Sixty-nine sequels, 32 comics spinoffs, three new mummies, and two standalone spin-offs that don’t quite count as sequels, but should have some familiarity from their links to existing properties.

That’s the quick tally of feature film releases with strong licensing potential from May 2015 through 2020.

The semi-annual chart, which starts on page 3 of this issue, includes 118 titles; up from 82 since we last published a list in May. Studios are feverishly jockeying earlier and earlier to set their release dates and head off competition.

The big news, just as we were compiling this updated list, was back-to-back announcements from DC and Marvel, each with long-term slates seeking to create new franchises from existing comic characters.

Indeed, for our list, we designate these new spinoffs as sequels, since the characters have been introduced in other related franchise films.

“Look at our release schedule as ‘intent as of the moment’,” said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg on a recent analysts’ call following release of their third-quarter results. “Every time something happens in the marketplace, we’ll respond in the most offensive manner possible to protect the performance of [our] films.

“Marvel announced eight movies on eight release dates. We have not made any full analy- sis on that, but are going to stay diligent. There is a lot of flexibility and maneuverability on that [DreamWorks] release schedule.”

The studios are increasingly plotting out three and four sequels from the starting gate, though obviously which ones actually make it to the big screen will depend on how well the first ones do at the box office.

Two new developments with the current list:

First, there are three films with ancient Egyptian themes—The Mummy (Parts I and II that are the cornerstone for Universal’s Marvel/DC- like franchise to be built around monsters in the Universal library) and Anubis (a Fox production based on the novel “The Anubis Tapestry: Between Twilights” by Bruce Zick).

Second, there are two unusual spinoffs—a standalone Star Wars project from Disney that isn’t part of the new Star Wars series, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is an effort to build out from the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling is developing with Warner Bros.

In all, there are 18 original-to-film projects on the boards, including those last two.

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