LICENSING EXPO 2017: Universal gets Fast and Furious at this year's big show

Hannah Mungo, country director, UK and Ireland, Universal Brand Development talks us through the firm's raft of big hit movie franchises.
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What are you showcasing at this year’s Expo?

Universal is showcasing a great portfolio of celebrated properties from the company’s film and television creative partners including Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation.

The line-up includes the Fast & Furious franchise, Illumination’s Despicable Me 3, and the newly imagined version of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Jurassic World is scheduled for release in June 2018 and a new Trolls movie has been confirmed for 2020 with new content across multiple media platforms planned to support the growth of the franchise between now and then.

We will also showcase new content from the DreamWorks Animation Television portfolio including one of Netflix’s most watched series Trollhunters, the highly acclaimed Voltron Legendary Defender and Dragons: Race to the Edge. Children’s favourites Dinotrux and preschool series Noddy: Toyland Detective, based on the classic British brand,also feature on the bill.

Why is 2017 a big year for you?

With our new in-house team in place in the UK we’re ready to maximize the opportunities that our amazing portfolio offers. 2017 got off to a very strong start with The Fate of the Furious setting global box-office records and surpassing $1B.

This was followed by the launch of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, and Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 premieres in June. We are also celebrating the growth of the Trolls brand with new products, new retail initiatives and fantastic new content scheduled to support the brand between now and the next movie release in 2020. We are working with some of the biggest family entertainment blockbuster franchises and that makes it a big year.

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

We’ve seen huge demand. It helps to have a strong range of franchise brands that appeal to a wide demographic and retail audience. First up, Despicable Me has reshaped global entertainment as we know it. 

The reaction from UK retail to the new product lines has been overwhelmingly positive. The combination of fan favourite characters, new additions and refreshed products that focus on tech and trends such as collectability will be irresistible for consumers this summer. Demand for the Trolls franchise is also strong. The movie grossed over £25 million at the UK box office, the DVD sold over 250,000 copies and Trolls was the number one toy property of 2016. A long-term, multi-platform content plan, supported by a UK cross category licensing programme, means that Trolls is here to stay.

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

We’ll be thinking big for 2018. We are dedicated to product innovation and creating range and depth at retail - a great example of this is the toy line for Despicable Me 3, which has been completely refreshed with a collective of best-in-class partners to deliver a deep range of products across all price points.

We are looking forward to building more of these engaging and successful partnerships. At Expo we’ll also be talking about plans further ahead for Jurassic World 2 and Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch in order to maximize licensing and retail opportunities in 2018.

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

Over the next five years Universal Business Development will launch its full portfolio across film, TV and lifestyle brands with a focus on developing a 365 day retail presence and tailored consumer product offerings for our diverse and ever growing fan base.

More specifically we’ll be continuing to work with partners to create innovative new lines- things like Mattel’s groundbreaking Fast & Furious toys and Movie Maker Appthat has created a unique early entry point into this franchise for boys.

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