Editors and licensing acquisition executives from publishing houses including Lerner, Bendon, Candlewick, Random House, and others are among the attendees roaming the show floor at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, which runs June 9-11. In addition to meeting with licensors about existing publishing programs, they are looking for potential new properties that might lend themselves to books and graphic novels.
Some of the licensed publishing deals announced at the show include Penguin Young Readers Group adding Powerpuff Girls to its Cartoon Network Books assortment and Bendon signing with the Fred Rogers Company for coloring and activity titles based on Daniel Tiger, which airs on PBS Kids.
Licensees and retailers attending the Expo have high hopes that TV shows such as the upcoming reboot of Powerpuff Girls and movies such as Universal’s Minions will drive sales of consumer products, including publishing, in the coming years. Minions, the next movie in the Despicable Me franchise, is expected to be a big merchandise hit as its July 10 release date approaches, according to many observers; publishers include Little, Brown and Bendon.
Attendees are also keeping an eye on a raft of celebrities and entertainment properties emanating from YouTube and Amazon, both first-time exhibitors, as well as Netflix. Several licensors and agents were prominently touting the fact that their properties were being streamed on and supported financially by the latter.
Despite the high profile of emerging social media brands, as well as entertainment franchises from the big studios and networks, licensees and retailers also are open to properties with roots in literature. “There seems to be some heat with literary properties at retailers like Target and Kohl’s,” says Joanne Loria, chief operating office at The Joester Loria Group. Her agency is preparing for the 50th anniversary of Eric Carle’s Brown Bear in 2017, launching a licensing effort featuring all of Carle’s bears (Polar Bear, Panda, Baby Bear, and Brown Bear), with merchandise expected to hit the market in time for holiday 2016.
Chronicle Books is back at the show after an absence of several years, featuring Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site; Lately Lily; Happiness Is….; F in Exams and other properties with licensing potential.
Among the other publishers and licensors of publishing properties exhibiting at the Expo this year include Penguin, which opted for a private meeting room instead of the big booth it has had for the last few years; Scholastic’s media division; Dr. Seuss Enterprises, whose booth featured a new street fashion/tattoo theme; and Viz Media, which was highlighting its manga properties including Doraemon, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Terraformars.
Warner Bros. is using the show to officially launch its merchandise program for the J.K. Rowling-penned film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.