LICENSING EXPO 2017: Sony talks VR, Ghostbusters and Emojis

Robert Hutchins

By Robert Hutchins

May 19th 2017 at 9:44AM
UPDATED May 21st 2017 at 4:19PM
LICENSING EXPO 2017: Sony talks VR, Ghostbusters and Emojis

Jamie Stevens, EVP, worldwide consumer products and licensing at Sony Pictures Entertainment talks to Licensing.biz about the excitement around licensed VR experiences.

What are you showcasing at this year’s Expo?

Consumer products has become an area of renewed focus for Sony Pictures. We have a strong line-up of consumer-product friendly films, which we’ll be showcasing at Licensing Expo.

Key properties include the Hotel Transylvania franchise, and new animated films such as The Emoji Movie, which hits theaters in July 2017, and Peter Rabbit; a live-action/CG motion picture based on the internationally beloved series of books, debuting in February 2018.

Additionally, at the booth, we’ll be demoing our new Ghostbusters VR for PlayStation®VRfor PS4™, which is an incredible VR experience that extends the reach of the beloved franchise, and gives fans the opportunity to experience being a Ghostbuster. We’ll be debuting the second chapter of Ghostbusters VR soon.

Looking forward, virtual reality is an area where we see aggressive revenue growth in the years ahead. We’re beginning to envision products that integrate our properties into VR experiences, with the technology resource of our gaming experts at Sony.

Another example of a great VR integration we’re developing is for The Emoji Movie. We’re partnering with a soon to beannounced production studio and location based virtual reality company to develop an "Emoji Movie" branded experience.  Consumers can play the VR experience in locations that will pop up globally surrounding the movie release.

Why is 2017 a big year for you?

It’s a big year for us because we have a strong opportunity to grow our consumer products and licensing business. We’re focused on developing merchandisable films and franchises, which will lead to long-term revenue potential for the studio.

We have a roster of very consumer-product friendly films coming out this year, including live-action titles such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Dark Tower as well as the highly anticipated Emoji Movie. We are also committed to growing the franchises that already exist in our library.

In 2018, the third film in the Hotel Transylvania franchise will hit theaters, and we have big plans to ignite the franchise throughout the year. It used to be that monsters were tied to Halloween, but now they’re very much a part of pop culture and relevant year-round.

We have a fresh pipeline of Hotel Transylvania content across multiple platforms including a new animated TV series premiering this summer on the Disney Channel as well as a Hotel Transylvania short film called PUPPY that will be tied to The Emoji Movie globally.

Our content strategy aligns perfectly with our consumer products strategy, which is to bring the Hotel Transylvania property to life 365 days a year. We have a new master toy partner who will roll out an innovative Hotel Transylvania toy line, inspired by new and classic characters from the franchise, that will hit shelves leading up to the release of Hotel Transylvania 3.

What demand have you seen for Sony’s properties this year?

With 92 per cent of the online population using emojis, The Emoji Movie provides a unique opportunity for licensees and retailers who want to capitalize on the emoji phenomenon. We have had fantastic responses from licensees and retailers globally. We’ll be announcing soon the master toy partner along with licensee partners across multiple categories to support the film's consumer products program.

What are you hoping to achieve at this year’s show?

We look forward to connecting with new and existing partners to explore opportunities that will lead to the development of innovative products that bring our properties to life in the most enterprising and exciting ways.

What can we expect to see from you this year and beyond?

We are committed to making our properties as relevant as possible to today’s consumers so you can expect to see us creating more content across digital, interactive VR, short form content, and more, based on where and how target audiences are consuming content.

There are so many great opportunities, particularly in the digital space, to extend the life of our IP. At Sony, we are nimble so we are able to quickly adapt to changes in media consumption, which is beneficial for our partners and the overall business.

In terms of the global marketplace, we see a tremendous opportunity to grow our business in emerging markets. This year, China is a region that we are focused on expanding in. We have recently appointed a Licensing Director in our China office who can help us grow our licensing business throughout the market.