With four blockbuster movies having hit cinema screens over the last few weeks, the NPD Group is predicting at least a three per cent increase on sales of licensed toys on last year's £729 million.
With the school summer holidays now in full swing, audiences for Cars 2, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Transformers 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are expected to swell further.
There are already signs that the movies are helping sales in the UK toy market. After a strong opening week at the cinemas in the US, Transformers 3 toy sales climbed to become the top property in the UK (week ending July 2nd). It was then overtaken by the Cars range one week later in the build up to the film release on July 22nd.
"With an already well established level of awareness with both parents and children, Cars has all the ingredients to be one of 2011's biggest winners," said Frédérique Tutt from NPD. "If Cars 2 delivers as expected, it will become one of the biggest licensed toy lines ever in Europe, and we can easily envisage toy sales across the five major markets in Europe reaching the £172 million mark.
"In fact, Transformers 3 is the only other toy line coming to the cinema with sales likely to challenge the success of Cars. Conversely, we predict sales stimulated by the other summer films will be short lived, as retailers are keen to maintain clean shelves."
However, Tutt did sound a note of caution. "Strong box office sales don't always equate to sales of merchandise. Avatar was the biggest box office success of all time, with ticket sales of £1.7 billion worldwide, but it only raised £2.3 million worth of toy sales in the UK last year."
NPD also pointed out that Moshi Monsters was the biggest new licence coming into the UK toy market in 2011.