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MGM to Base Urban Clothing Line on Its Movies From '70s


When it comes to merchandising, Walt Disney Co. has Mickey Mouse and Warner Bros. has Harry Potter. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. has something decidedly different: Foxy Brown.

The struggling studio is digging deep into its extensive film library to license a clothing line inspired by black-oriented films from the 1970s, including "Foxy Brown," "Cooley High" and "Coffey." It's part of a strategy to market MGM merchandise to niche groups.

In this case, the studio is hoping to sell to a hip, urban audience. Future efforts could target fans of its western, science fiction or horror titles.

MGM is turning to the past because it hasn't produced the kinds of blockbuster movies recently that translate easily into dolls, lunchboxes and key chains.

"One of the challenges we have is that we haven't in the past done a lot of major theatrical releases that have big merchandising campaigns," said Travis Rutherford, head of the consumer products division at MGM.

In its most recent quarter, MGM posted a net loss of $121.8 million. No one expects the merchandising plan to have a major effect on that bottom line.

MGM is targeting urban youths at mall specialty stores and hip-hop clothing outlets in major cities.

The first fruits of the strategy will be seen as urban clothing company Willie Esco rolls out denim jackets and jeans, athletic gear, sweatsuits and other items based on MGM's "Soul Cinema" collection. The films include titles such as "Foxy Brown," "Hell Up in Harlem," "Black Caesar" and "Coffey."

Most of the clothing items will carry the MGM logo only on a tag or packaging. "It would be wrong for us to slap MGM on the product itself," Rutherford said. "MGM means great movies, but it doesn't necessarily mean a great fashion apparel line."

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