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TOYS IN HOLLYWOOD


With Pixar and Universal’s Minions absent in 2014, and Star Wars, Bond and Avengers holding off until 2015, this year will see toy brands become some of the hottest properties in Hollywood. Billy Langsworthy talks to firms behind The LEGO Movie and Transformers: Age of Extinction to see why toys on the big screen can translate to big sales at retail


WHILE 2015 stands out due to its rolling list of blockbusters (Star Wars, The Avengers 2, Bond), 2014 has became noticeable due to some high-profile absentees. Next year will be the first since 2005 to come and go without a Pixar movie, after The Good Dinosaurwas delayed until 2015. While last year’s Despicable Me 2broke box office records for Universal, the studio has also pushed the spin-off Minionsmovie to 2015.


What this does now mean is that when it comes to blockbusters in 2014, toy properties make up some of the biggest releases of the year. We have The LEGO Movie, Transformers: Age of Extinctionand Max Steel. Elsewhere, a new straight-


to-DVD Barbie movie will be released along with Monster High’s Frights, Camera, Action! DVD.


BRICK FLICKS One of the biggest movies to come out in Q1 2014 is The LEGO Movie. The film uses existing


LEGO sets and Minifigures, as well as a host of new characters voiced by the


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likes of Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson. LEGO believes the launch of the movie, both in cinemas and on DVD, will be music to retailers’ ears as it looks to drive new The LEGO Moviesets as well as existing products featured in the film. “The LEGO Moviesets will


be very closely tied to the film,” LEGO senior director, head of marketing, Rebecca Snell tells ToyNews.


pre-promotion and it’s going to bring the vast LEGO fan base to cinemas. “Whilst there is an


immense sales opportunity for The LEGO Movierange, it’s clearly going to benefit sales of LEGO overall. There will undoubtedly be a halo effect across the brand. “The LEGO Moviedoesn’t


just feature the new characters; it also features well known characters that are part of existing sets, so it


A lot of toys are about role-play, and what you’re able to do with a movie is really bring that to life for your fans. Rebecca Snell, LEGO UK


“The LEGO Moviesets


replicate scenes, buildings and vehicles in the movie. Fans will be able to build the sets and act out the scenes from the movie or recreate their own versions. “The LEGO Moviemeans


there will be a huge amount of noise around the brand, both in terms of the theatrical release and the DVD launch in June. “There’s a significant


marketing budget behind this so there will be a lot of


will also help to drive those franchises as well.” While The LEGO Movieis the first big screen adventure for the world’s second biggest toy company, it has previously featured in several straight- to-DVD movies, a process the firm believes was key in bringing about the birth of The LEGO Movie. “The straight-to-DVD


movies were a very important part of coming to The LEGO Movie,” adds Snell.


Michael Bay is bringing Transformers back to the big screen in Transformers: Age of Extinction.


“We’ve produced mini-


movies for straight-to-DVD release and promotional purposes in the past and these have been extremely well received by consumers. “Content in itself is a


great way of engaging the consumer in the stories behind our brands. Whether that is DVDs or content online, it always gets an incredible response from consumers. “So what better way to go than to develop a feature length movie that is a LEGO world on the big screen?” While some big screen adaptations of toy properties can seem tenuous (We’re looking at you, Battleship), LEGO believes the role-play element of the brand makes it a good fit for the cinema. Snell continues: “The idea


that you can build anything your imagination desires is at the heart of the LEGO brand and role-play is a huge part of that building experience. “The movie takes the imagination aspect of LEGO to new heights as with the Minifigures as the characters and movie sets being LEGO bricks, the movie really does bring the LEGO brand to life.


www.toynews-online.biz


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