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Using Licensed Properties to Make New Licensed Properties

It’s a toy! It’s a movie! No, wait, it’s a toy! … It’s common for entertainment properties to spawn toys and for toys to spawn entertainment properties. Less common is for entertainment properties to inspire toys, which then inspire new entertainment properties, which then, in turn, inspire new toys.

But it’s happening. A leading example of the new paradigm is the collaboration among Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Entertainment and Mattel to create new animated movies and shorts based on Mattel toy lines that are based on DC Comics’ Justice League characters. The new entertainment programs will in turn expand the toy lines from which they sprung. Examples to be launched this spring:

  • Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s release “Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts,” an animated feature based on Mattel’s Batman toy line, direct to DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms. The studio will also release 22 stand-alone two-minute “Batman Unlimited” shorts online and companion apps allowing kids to interact with the properties.
  • Warner Bros. Animation will release 15 three-minute “DC Super Friends” shorts as an outgrowth of Mattel’s Fisher Price Imaginext DC Super Friends toy line, as well as companion apps that allow kids to advance the storylines.

In each case, Mattel’s toy lines will expand to include new Batman Unlimited and Imaginext DC Super Friends toys. Think of it as a licensing double double whammy, delivered by superheroes who’ve been around long enough to pull it off.

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