VEGAS 09: Disney eyeing up further growth

World's largest licensor reveals new content and product lines at Licensing International.
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Disney Consumer Products is looking to pull even further away from its rivals, unveiling on the first day of Licensing International new content and product line extensions for its portfolio of character franchises.

Disney Channels animated pre-school series Handy Manny will see two prime time special debut this year and in 2010, plus a new 20-episode short form series, Handy Manny's School for Tools, in 2010.

DCP opened Licensing International with an appearance by Wilmer Valderrama, star of Handy Manny. The firm said it is looking to expand the consumer products line beyond toys into apparel and accessories, books, a magazine, home furnishings, stationery and food products.

Meanwhile, Hannah Montana has been renewed for a fourth season - apparently with a storyline twist in the works.

Backed by new content and company-wide initiatives, Toy Story is being primed for long-term growth opportunities. The first two movies are being re-released in 3D this October, followed by Toy Story 3 next summer. Beginning this autumn, new merchandise will launch including light-up apparel, home decor and toy lines such as a motor-powered Ultimate Buzz Lightyear robot which responds to 25 voice commands. Collectible figures, food, personal care, stationery and party items will also be launched.

Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh remain among the company's key character franchises, with new plans being revealed for both.

A new Winnie the Pooh film is planned for spring 2011 with DCP focusing the merchandising strategy on mothers of infants and toddlers, with a second focus on women. Other Disney businesses, including Disney Publishing, are also developing Pooh content.

Meanwhile, there's a new comprehensive campaign in place for Mickey Mouse, with different plans for different demographics. For pre-schoolers, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has contributed to a 60 per cent increase in merchandise sales at key retail accounts. New episodes and prime time specials are being planned, plus new title releases on DVD.

For kids and adults, Disney Have-A-Laugh is a new company wide initiative which will showcase the library of original Mickey cartoon shorts across a variety of formats and platforms, including TV, online and DVD. Finally, for young adults the focus will be on fashion. In 2010, Mickey By will launch, with DCP commissioning well-known artists to interpret the classic Mickey pose for art that will serve as the foundation for fashionable applications across many product categories.

Finally, Disney Princess and Disney Fairies will also be expanded. The Princess and the Frog will hit cinemas in November, followed by Rapunzel in 2010. Beauty and the Beast is also slated for a re-release from the Disney Vault. Meanwhile, a fifth film will be added to the Disney Fairies line - Tinker Bell: Race Through the Seasons (working title) is currently in development.


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