When it was released back in 2001, the chatter was all about the standard set by Pixar with Toy Story.
But over the past nine years, DreamWorks has built Shrek into a solid movie-based franchise, with product continuing to have a high presence at retail outside of the film releases.
Prior to the release of the fourth film – Shrek Forever After, which hits UK cinemas on July 2nd – the franchise had notched up in excess of $2 billion at the worldwide box office. On top of this, it has generated over $2 billion in worldwide merchandise sales at retail.
Licensee numbers are at a healthy level, with partners ranging from Aykroyd & TDP, Poetic Licensing, Smiffy’s and VMC in the apparel and accessories category; Activision, Gameloft, Vtech and Sky in the interactive sector; and Random House for publishing, through to Danilo and Panini for stationery; and Hasbro, Vivid and Ravensburger in the toy category.
The brand also has representatives in the fine art, gifts and collectables, health and beauty and housewares and home furnishings sectors.
“One of the benefits of an ongoing franchise is that you learn what works and what doesn’t,” Sheila Clark, head of international consumer products at DreamWorks explains to Licensing.biz.
“The programme for this last film has been designed to really tap into what consumers want and love about Shrek.”
The franchise actually originated from a book series created by William Steig, Kerry Phelan, head of worldwide consumer products and licensing at DreamWorks, adds. “This film is the final chapter in the Shrek book,” she says. “However, we expect the franchise to live on via the live Broadway show – Shrek The Musical – holiday TV specials like Shrek the Halls and Scared Shrekless, and spin offs like the feature film, Puss in Boots, which is scheduled for release in fall 2011.”
It sounds like there’s a solid plan in place for continuing the success of the brand long after the films have gone from our cinema screens. Clark is convinced of this: “Shrek is an ongoing evergreen franchise. We believe the success is due to the emotional connection consumers have made with the characters and the stories, plus they are just fun and funny.”