I stopped by McDonald's on the way to work this morning. I had to look over some financial documents before I hit the office and didn't want to be disturbed. As I approached the front door to 'America's Cafeteria', I saw a large poster for the latest "Shrek" film
Once upon a time, back in the 40s and 50s, films were produced and distributed in this country on their own merit. They were an art form, with the various studios seeing who could make the better picture. It was a form of artistic competition that was very expensive and produced some of the greatest films in history. Think of films like 'Ben Hur', 'Gone with the Wind', 2001: A Space Odyssey' and you get my drift. These were blockbusters that didn't need a lot of advertising.
But the entertainment industry has changed quite a lot since then. Now, even the most meager 'mega-film-wannabe' has to have tie-ins. Every large budget film (especially if it ties into a demographic under the age of 30) has to have toys, clothing, music, video games and fast food franchise tie ins. The concept being that market saturation increases profits from the licensing of the film title.
Once little Timmy sees the latest Pixar film, it is assumed he will want the 'Nemo' pajamas, the 'Woody' doll, the 'UP' video game and the 'Cars' Happy Meal. And Pixar gets a percentage of every one of those items. Hey, I suppose it costs a lot to pay those CGI animators to create those cute little creatures on the big screen.
So this got me thinking a few months ago. This all has to be planned out at a very high level in order to bring everything to market at the time of the films release.
I am sure that there are factories in Taiwan and China that are turning out thousands of little plastic caricatures of the next big budget kiddy film to be released in August. They will be loaded onto container ships, sail to L.A. and be trucked to various fast food outlets within the next 3 months so that they can be on hand when the hoards of little rug rats exit the theater and start clamoring for a 'Nemo' or 'Woody' of their very own. The samples and orders had to be placed for these toy figures no later than late 2009.
So I have to assume that there are high level meetings going on right now, to see what toy companies and burger chains want to 'bid' for the rights to the next big budget Hollywood film. So I am going to make some predictions here and see if I can guess which fast food chains are willing to shell out the big bucks in order to be tied in with the next potential blockbuster. Lets see if I am right:
June 2010 - "The 'A' Team" - Burger King
November 2010 = "HarryPotter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" - McDonalds
December 2010 = "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" = McDonalds (again)
December 2010 = "Tron Legacy" - Burger King (again)
January 2011 = "The Green Hornet" - Taco Bell