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Warner Bros.' 'Man of Steel' Nabs $170 Million in Promotional Dollars

Man of Steel Henry Cavill - H 2013
Warner Bros. Pictures
"Man of Steel"

The Superman reboot has 98 partners -- more than "The Dark Knight Rises" -- with Sears playing a "dramatic role" in the film, plus action figures (Mattel), razor blades (Gillette), cars (Chrysler), shoes (Converse) and even the National Guard.

This story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

It's a bird! It's a planet! It's an ad!

Warner Bros. has booked a whopping 98 promotional partners worldwide — so far — that are providing about $170 million in support (on top of paid ads) for Man of Steel. That’s even more than The Dark Knight Rises’ $150 million in third-party promos last summer. In addition to those already on board, Warners sources say even more international partners are expected before the movie takes flight June 14 in the U.S. and elsewhere this summer.

Warner Bros. would not discuss their third-party promotions or provide any figures but did confirm some of those who are involved. Sources say that Man of Steel has been a much easier movie to pitch to partners than The Dark Knight Rises, which was darker in theme and plot.

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Clark Kent’s alter ego may not be as joyful as the singing penguins who created a marketing glow that helped propel Happy Feet into merchandising history, but Superman is seen as an all-American figure, a real hero and someone whom people of all ages can admire. That makes the reinvented hero someone advertisers want to associate with.

Along with DC Comics regular partners like Mattel, with a line that includes a variety of action figures and collectibles (priced from around $10 to over $100), a partial list of partners includes toys from Lego, JAKKS Pacific (collectable figures) and Fisher Price (Super Friends for toddlers), shoes from Converse, costumes from Rubie’s, Hallmark cards, as well as apparel collections from Kinetics, Junk Food and Bioworld.

In the U.K., Chrysler is offering two new series of vehicles inspired by Man of Steel. The S-Series comes with oversized black alloy wheels, a dark steel grill and interior accents and a matte-black roof and hood.

Chrysler is also producing two, and only two, concept cars, that will have everything from embroidered carpet mats to a Man of Steel-branded key fob. They will be part of a contest in the U.K. with the cars going to two lucky winners.

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There are also Nokia phones and interactive apps, Carls Jr. Super cheeseburgers, Hershey’s Twizzlers on Facebook (where fans create and star in a personalized video) as well as two retail partners -- which is unusual -- Walmart (selling licensed merchandise and tickets to a special screening) and Sears (one of whose stores features in a dramatic twist in the film).

Even the U.S. Army National Guard has enlisted with a Soldier of Steel promotion.