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Universal Plans a Mammoth 'Lost World' Marketing Blitz

Company Town

February 11, 1997|ROBERT STRAUSS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEW YORK — Demonstrating the continued power of movie merchandising, Universal Studios on Monday announced a licensing campaign for its upcoming film "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" that it hopes will lead to more than $1 billion in sales.

The announcement coincided with the beginning of the 1997 American International Toy Fair, the annual exhibition of the toy industry's new wares, which continues through Monday. Many of those new toys and games--as much as 50% in dollar terms by several industry estimates--will be tied to movies or TV shows.

The "Lost World" line includes among its two dozen toy licenses action figures from Kenner and board games from Parker Bros. (both subsidiaries of Hasbro Inc.); Super Soaker guns from Laramie; and radio control cars from Tyco.

Tyco, which unlike other toy companies had been shying away from movie tie-ins, signed on with Universal for "The Lost World." "There was limited risk with this product," said Tyco spokesman Bruce Maguire. "The first movie did very well, and there are recognizable characters in the sequel."

"The Lost World" will premiere May 26 with Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as scientist Ian Malcolm. Steven Spielberg returns as director.

"Jurassic Park" is the all-time highest-grossing movie, with $913 million in sales, according to Cynthia Cleveland, president of merchandising and licensing at Universal Studios. Cleveland said the licensing rights grossed "about the same amount."

"The movie is the most important thing, certainly," said Jim Klein, president of Universal's Consumer Products Group. "But marketing is more and more a part of the game. We want to create brands with our properties."

By spring, consumers will see promotional tie-ins for the Universal film with such companies as Kodak, Timberland, Tropicana and Burger King.

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