Summer Movies Deliver Big Returns for UK Licensing

Posted by Kelvyn Gardner on August 25, 2015

The revival of movies in the UK licensing sector, which began with the sweeping success of Frozen at the end of 2013, and has widely been predicted to continue in 2015, looks truly to have come to pass. In box office terms, both Minions and Jurassic World have now surpassed the £41m take of Frozen. Jurassic world, in fact, has now become the eighth highest box-office earner in UK film history. There’s also no doubt that the king of Dinosaur brands is delivering on the licensing front, with many UK licensees expressing delight (and, maybe, a little surprise) at their success.

The case of Minions is an even more interesting one. There was huge anticipation throughout 2014 and in the build-up to the release this year of this movie’s licensing potential. Key retailers were clamouring to be regarded as the ‘destination store’ for Minions merchandise. The licensee list has more names on it than the list of Barons who witnessed the signing of Magna Carta 800 years ago this June (old joke: Where was the Magna Carta signed? Answer: at the bottom).

An impressive and well- supported sell-in has been followed by fantastic sell-through across the board. Minions toys are reported to have even overtaken Frozen as No 1 in the category as the summer has gone on. Licensees I’ve spoken to are backing this up unanimously, with some astonishing sales reported. Intriguingly, however, the UK Minions box-office numbers, at £43m, whilst impressive, have not actually yet surpassed those from the earlier film in this franchise, Despicable Me 2, which grossed £48m in 2013.

Whilst the little yellow fellows seem to everyone’s favourite, could it be that, without their boss, Gru, they’ve lost a certain something? More likely, it would seem to me, are two other factors. The first, which I’m sure is the point of view of Universal, is that Despicable Me/Minions is now the sort of franchise that can continue to grow in merchandise terms year-on-year. We’ve already heard hints of shorts and web content coming along in 2016, officially a ‘down year’ for movie output on the franchise. In this case then the DM/Minions brand will live outside the cinematic content.

Another factor is the huge number of younger children who are into Minions. The film is, no doubt, a ‘family favourite’. It would not surprise me, however, if the home entertainment release is even more successful later this year, and that, in turn, providing the younger fans with endless options to watch and rewatch the movie will drive merchandise sales even more strongly. If that does come to pass, then Minions will be moving tons of merchandise just at the time that Star Wars Episode VII kicks in. Indeed, ‘Force Friday’, 4th September, will be the kick-off for this even more widely anticipated licensing hit.

One thing’s for sure, in the UK licensing, movies are back.