Walt Disney Expects 'Cars 2' Merchandise to Eclipse 'Toy Story 3'

11:22 AM PST 06/09/2011 by Georg Szalai
Disney/Pixar

The 'Cars' franchise has crossed $10 billion in total retail sales, and Mickey Mouse remains the largest licensed character with projected $9 billion in sales this fiscal year as the company plans a Disney Baby store.

NEW YORK - Merchandise for the Cars franchise has generated total global retail sales of more than $10 billion since its launch, making it one of Walt Disney's top franchises, the company said Thursday.

Earlier in the year, the company had mentioned that it had sold more than $8 billion in product at retail.

The rollout of retail merchandise for summer theatrical release Cars 2 began in mid-May, and retail projections show that it will exceed the performance of Toy Story 3 last year to become the largest merchandise program in licensing industry history, according to Disney. Toy Story 3 contributing around $2.4 billion in merchandise sales last year, according to License! Global magazine.

In an online presentation Thursday ahead of the annual Licensing International Expo 2011 next week, Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products, said sales of Disney-branded merchandise have risen at a compound annual rate of 12 percent over the past decade. DCP retail sales for fiscal year 2010 hit $28.6 billion, keeping Disney at the top of a list of top licensors, according to License! Global's annual ranking.

To continue its growth momentum, the entertainment giant is focusing on building Disney Baby as a brand and launch a related retail presence
, among other things. The first concept store is set to open in Glendale, Calif. in the fall of 2012. The goal is to participate more aggressively in the newborn and infant segment as "connecting with new families is probably more valuable to Disney than to any other brand," the company said.

Mooney also mentioned new content and merchandising programs for classics, including Disney Princess and Winnie the Pooh, as well as original programming from Disney Channel and the Disney Junior and a continuing push of Disney Fairies, Toy Story and Cars.

Mooney also highlighted the lasting appeal of Mickey Mouse, the world'
s largest licensed character, and friends, saying the evergreen is on track to generate $9 billion in global retail sales for Disney's fiscal year 2011.

“Our primary objective in franchise development has been to diversify our portfolio to connect with a broader range of consumers," said Mooney. "We’ve not only grown the number of Disney franchises from only two in the year 2000 to 13 in 2011, but classic franchises have not suffered because of it."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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