Box office and product faceoffs loom as studios scramble for tentpole slots through 2012.
The Hollywood studios are aggressively drawing the battle lines for summer competition at the box office and on retail shelves for 2009, 2010 and beyond. (This summer's plans, of course, have long been set.)
TLL's semi-annual review of upcoming feature film licensing plans (pg. 4-6) reveals a plethora of well-known franchise films and sequels, plus a sprinkling of original or lesser-known projects that will require greater sell-in to consumers and retailers.
Noteworthy aspects of the schedule include:
* Fox's Ice Age franchise--whose previous two installments had March release dates that generated solid box office but relatively small consumer products sales--makes its first foray into summer in 2009. It's currently slated to open the extended July 4 weekend.
* The opening of the 2009 summer season--which has moved progressively earlier into May each year--is expected to revolve around four major films, three of them sequels or franchise films: X-Men Origins (May 1 from MarveI); Night At the Museum 2 (May 22 from Fox); Terminator 4 (May 22 from Halcyon) and Up, a Disney comic adventure (May 29). Soon after comes another installment of the Fast and Furious franchise from Universal (June 5).
* Hasbro is hoping to bear the fruit of two of its big franchises in summer '09, with a second Transformers film in July--the first helped turn Transformers into one of the top boys' licensing properties of 2007--and the first GI Joe movie in August.
* Summer 2010 shapes up as another clash of the franchises, highlighted by a face-off between Shrek Goes Fourth (May 21 from Dreamworks) and Toy Story 3 (mid-June from Disney/Pixar).
* As we've reported (TLL, April 21, P.2), the majority of Disney's and Pixar's tentpole films through 2012 will be shot and projected in 3-D.
One note of uncertainty is the fate of films that had been scheduled by New Line Cinema. While we've included two New Line films on this chart, including Inkheart which has been slated for January 30, 2009, New Line's absorption into more direct control by Warner Bros. leaves the fate of licensing plans for those films at least somewhat up in the air (see News and Notes, P.2).
As always, we caution that this chart is a snapshot of current plans. Particularly given the fallout from the recent writers' strike, productions dates can be shifted, release dates changed, and films can fall in and out of the schedule.