'Avatar' merchandise strategy going long-term

Fox Consumer Products plans more for fall, holidays

NEW YORK -- "Avatar" has made $153 million in retail sales, but Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products believes it can continue to roll out licensed product even without firm plans for a sequel and make "Avatar" a long-term retail blockbuster.

The licensing arm of the News Corp. entertainment unit  announced a longer-term "Avatar" merchandise strategy Wednesday at Licensing Show in Las Vegas. It is in line with the Fox consumer products leadership's new focus on franchises and long-term strategies.

During its initial release, "Avatar" was supported by what Fox said was one of its most extensive merchandising programs ever with more than 125 licensed products across four major categories -- toys, apparel, publishing and video games.

This fall, Fox plans to offer more "Avatar" merchandise for the key back-to-school, Halloween and holiday shopping seasons, including costumes, board games and bedding items.

"Avatar is a true game changer. I don't think the world has seen anything like it and the best part is that it's just the tip of the iceberg," said Robert Marick, executive vp of Fox Consumer Products. "We know that 'Avatar' can thrive at retail independent of new movie releases, and we are developing creative ways to engage fans throughout the year."

Fox's consumer products division also sees further upside in "The Simpsons," which has had more than 400 licensees and garnered worldwide retail sales topping $8 billion.

At Licensing Show, Fox touted recent partnerships with the likes of Coca-Cola and Nike. The latter had Homer Simpson meet Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo in its "Write the Future" commercial, which has become a viral video hit.

Fox Consumer Products plans to extend merchandising programs for the "Simpsons" both at home and abroad.

Said Marick: "Our aim is to find quality brand extensions and merchandise that make sense for The Simpsons and also fits the sensibilities of fans."