Home / Entertainment / BLE 2019: Sony’s Jamie Stevens talks Ghostbusters, Spider-Man and why it’s not just about t-shirts and toys

BLE 2019: Sony’s Jamie Stevens talks Ghostbusters, Spider-Man and why it’s not just about t-shirts and toys

With Ghostbusters, Peter Rabbit, Outlander, and Cobra Kai under one roof – as well as the continued film rights for Spider-Man and plenty more in between, it’s an eclectic portfolio of properties that Sony Pictures Consumer Products finds itself heading into BLE with this year.

But a strong one, nevertheless.

Sony Pictures Consumer Products has found an ability to strike a balance – between the old and the new; the retro and the reboot and land with a global audience by catering to everyone, from pre-schoolers chasing Peter Rabbit on his follow-up big screen adventure in Peter Rabbit 2, to the retro-heads in Ghostbusters, in anticipation of a return to the roots of this 35-year-old franchise.

With such a mix of IP and a year of tentpoles ahead of it, Licensing.biz catches up with Sony’s EVP worldwide consumer products, Jamie Stevens to uncover the company’s plans…

So, Ghostbusters – it’s very exciting that you’ve partnered with Hasbro for the toy line. What will this partnership be bringing to the toy space?

We are very excited about our multi-year partnership with Hasbro. Just as the new Ghostbusters film is going back to its roots, we are going back to our roots in toys with Hasbro and Kenner (a division of Hasbro) who created the Real Ghostbusters toy line from 1986 to 1991.

In collaboration with Hasbro, we are working to develop a dynamic new toy line for fans around the world.

What are the wider plans for Ghostbusters in the licensing arena? It’s an iconic property that spans pop culture and its ‘heritage’ audience – how will you balance that core audience with new audiences today?

Our core fans are very important to us and have played a big role in keeping the Ghostbusters franchise a thriving property. The fans have helped us build a new generation of Ghostbusters fans by sharing the past movies and products with a younger audience.

We plan to have products across various categories that cater to fans of all ages.

What will be the key categories for the property, and what partners can you tell us about? How will be you tapping the IP into emerging trends in licensing?

We are still in the process of signing partners across categories globally. We are fortunate that we have a proven franchise with many long-term licensing partners. We will tap into that existing network of licensees as well as bring new partners on board.

We always strive to collaborate with our partners to bring excitement and innovation into our products.

What’s the ongoing saga surrounding Spider-Man? Where does the break from Disney leave you guys and the licensing rights?

Disney owns the merchandising rights to Spider-Man. Sony Pictures continues to control the movie rights, and we’re going to keep making kickass movies.

Can you talk us through the past 12 months for Sony Pictures Consumer Products – how has business been for you guys, what level of growth have you seen or what have been the standout moments of the past year for the business?

The past year has been a busy one for SPCP. We celebrated Ghostbusters 35th anniversary and have great products around the world: our very successful Transformers/Ghostbusters collaborations, designer collaborations with brands like Cakeworthy, fine jewellery with Bixlers, home and travel products from Cotton-On and unique adult and kids’ products with K-Swiss.

We also have a live orchestra tour that will be visiting cities globally through 2020. In addition to the 35th celebrations, we have been focused on the film side with Zombieland: Double Tap, Jumanji: The Next Level, and Charlie’s Angels, as well as our TV franchises such as Outlander, Breaking Bad and Cobra Kai.

What will you guys be bringing to BLE this year – can you talk us a bit through the portfolio for this year and next – what is exciting you guys at the moment, and what have you got going on that is sure to be exciting the licensing world?

In addition to the new Ghostbusters film, we are working on Peter Rabbit 2, Bloodshot, Monster Hunter, and Vivo – an exciting film from Sony Pictures Animation helmed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In addition, it is an exciting time in TV licensing and we will continue to develop programmes for Outlander, Cobra Kai, and Breaking Bad (especially with a new movie coming out this autumn).

We are very excited about the great response we have had to The Boys on Amazon Prime and are planning a lot of great products targeted to the tremendous fans we have cultivated for the show.

Licensing is going through a constant state of change… what are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the consumer products space over the past year?

There is much more competition with numerous forms of entertainment than in the past, and less shelf-space as retail evolves. We continually listen to our retail partners and licensees, and collaborate with them to develop products that excite consumers.

We are also focusing on our key markets internationally to make sure we have the right products to meet the needs of individual markets.

 How do think these changes are shaping the future look of the licensing and consumer products space? What is Sony doing to keep up with these shifts?

Consumers and fans will always want to experience their favourite entertainment properties and it is our job to provide them with those products. It is not only about t-shorts and toys anymore, we have to look at ways to enhance the consumer experience with newness, immersive experiences and new categories.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent some six years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@bizmedia.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobHutchins3 if ranting is your thing...

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