Harry Potter made his publishing debut back in 1997 with the roll out of JK Rowling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Since then, the seven book series has gone on to shift a phenomenal 400 million copies worldwide.
Since then, of course, Harry Potter has become the biggest film franchise in history – with all five of the previously released movies ranking in the 25 top grossing films of all time worldwide – and the licensing programme racking up more than $7 billion in retail sales globally.
It’s a staggering success story – and one which Warner Bros. Consumer Products is looking to continue. With three movies left, plus the accompanying DVD releases, the focus will be shifting to establishing Harry Potter as an evergreen brand, a process which has already started and will really move up a gear with the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in cinemas this week.
WBCP has outlined a calendar of events that it says will ensure that the Harry Potter brand remains a viable licensing opportunity long after the final movie is released.
Dubbed as ‘global scale events’ by the company, they began on April 30th with the opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The 10,000 square foot exhibition space offers fans of the property a first hand look into Harry’s world and includes more than 200 authentic costumes – such as Gryffindor school uniforms and elaborate costumes worn at the Yule Ball – and props from the movies, such as Harry’s original wand and eyeglasses. The artefacts are displayed in settings inspired by the film sets, which include the Great Hall, Hagrid’s hut and the Gryffindor common room. The exhibit will be updated to include artefacts and costumes from the final instalments of the film series once production on them is complete.
The exhibition will move on from Chicago in September, with the next venue due to be announced shortly.
The sixth film - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – rolled out to cinemas worldwide on July 15th, with the DVD release planned for quarter four. Moving into 2010, and the spring will see the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida; Christmas 2010 will see the cinema release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, followed by Part 2 in summer 2011.
Throughout the next four years, the merchandise programme will also be building. Action figures, wands, sticker albums, children’s books, dress-up, board games, video games, gifts and collectables are all part of the licensing campaign. Much success has already been enjoyed by WBCP partners DeAgostini and Panini and both firms are upgrading their efforts this year for Half-Blood Prince.
DeAgostini’s Harry Potter Figurine Partworks collection will launch this year throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia. The firm has sold more than 23 million units of its Chess partworks to date. Meanwhile, Panini has notched up sales in excess of one billion stickers. An in-store promotion has also been taking place in 300 WH Smith stores, highlighting the vast range of Harry Potter licensed publishing products available from BBC Children’s Books and Panini.
Other retailers involved with key promotions surrounding the launch of the Half-Blood Prince include Asda, Argos and Sainsbury’s.
Meanwhile, in the interactive sector, Electronic Arts is already enjoying success with the video game of the Half-Blood Prince, while TT Games and the Lego Group are working on Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 – based on the first four books and films – which is due for release in 2010.