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How MGM is taking The Addams Family franchise to the next level

Source talks to evp global consumer products and experiences, Robert Marick about the ‘unofficial first family of Halloween’.

Firstly, can you run through how the licensing programme currently stands for The Addams Family?

Based on the famous New Yorker creations of Charles Addams, the Addams Family licensing programme is first and foremost a multi-generational program with robust portfolio of opportunities.

First, Classic Addams, which encapsulates the classic 1960’s TV series. Classic Addams targets those fans that love that retro black and white imagery with a cool and hip appeal. Second, Evergreen Addams, which, as the name implies, takes the ‘unofficial first family of Halloween’ and expands the programme year-round and brings seasonal licensing opportunities, such as the winter holidays, Valentine’s and more. Based off the very successful 2019 Addams Family theatrical release, the rich CGI graphics, kooky characters and relatable storyline, offers unique long-term licensing opportunities.

And finally, with the anticipated release of Addams Family 2, we will be expanding the licensing programme to focus on its new characters, funny plot and, of course, our favourite family with special emphasis on Wednesday Addams. You won’t want to miss it.

The programme will be licensed either directly or through our global network of agents including Wildbrain CPLG, IMG, Brandgenuity and more.

With 11 months to go, we currently have 33 licensees, across eight major categories and growing. Based on the property appeal and the proven success of last year’s merchandise programme, we are confident we will significantly increase our licensee base around the world.

While it’s too early to share all our new licensing partnerships, I am happy to announce that we will be entering, for the first time, both the home and beauty categories. In the interactive games space, we will be announcing our first-ever console game, as well as expanding our licensee base in apparel, costumes and collectables.

There will be a special emphasis on Wednesday Addams for the second movie.
There will be a special emphasis on Wednesday Addams for the second movie.

What were some of the key successes from 2019?

We were extremely pleased with the initial Addams Family licensing programme. Considering the franchise hadn’t had any new film or TV releases in almost 25 years, the film and licensing programme introduced the franchise to a new generation of fans.

With 30 licensees, we had broad category coverage (apparel, accessories, plush, toys/collectables, confectionary, seasonal costumes, publishing and mobile game), with over 130 items developed in the US alone and solid distribution across all retail channels. Our licensees included a diverse range of brands. such as Amazon, Rubies Costume Company, Cost Plus World Market, Pixowl, Scholastic, Harper Collins and Funko stylised toys among others.

How is MGM looking to further build on this in 2020? Are there specific plans/deals on the merchandising programme that you can share with us, especially around Halloween? What are the key categories that you are targeting? Have plans needed to change at all to take into account COVID-19 restrictions around the globe?

Initially, our plan was to build off the 2019 film and create a ‘bridge’ licensing programme between films. And then COVID-19 happened.

Like everything in our lives today, 2020 Halloween will look very different and will also vary across the globe. We’ve tried to adapt between licensee manufacturing and shipping distribution challenges to retailers not knowing how to plan for demand. Fortunately, we entered the year with a strong licensing base and are partners have ‘spook-tacular’ products across multiple categories that are just as fun if you are stuck at home.

For example, our mobile game, The Addams Family Mystery Mansion game continues to be a fan favourite. Our partner Pixowl, continues to invest. They have introduced new seasonal events and have added new game play for deeper engagement. Our publishing partners, Harper Collins continue to release new young-adult novels to their already broad offering of picture books. And, for those who want to adventure outside, Rubie’s will continue to offer the Addams Family costumes in both the classic and animated editions.

Funko is among the current licensee roster for The Addams Family.
Funko is among the current licensee roster for The Addams Family.

We understand there is a movie coming in 2021 – will there be a specific programme around this?

Absolutely, as mentioned earlier, everyone’s favorite spooky family is back in the new animated comedy sequel The Addams Family 2.

In this all new movie, The Addams get tangled up in wacky adventures and find themselves involved in hilarious run ins with all sorts of unsuspecting characters. Always staying true to themselves, the Addams Family bring their iconic spookiness and kookiness wherever they go. The film will open up many new licensing opportunities.

In support of this programme, we will be releasing the initial Addams Family 2 style guide this Halloween and will follow with two additional supplements next year leading up to the October, 2021 release.

How do the programmes differ for the 1960s TV series and the movies?

They are quite different. Originally filmed in black and white, the TV series brings a nostalgic/retro live action feeling to the brand. This DNA is easily recognisable in its monochrome colour and sophisticated style usually appealing to an adult audience.

The current Addams Family animated film encompasses state-of-the-art CGI technology lending itself to more vivid colors and bold wacky action scenes. With its off-beat humor and multi-generational appeal, it offers a broader licensing programme ranging from young kids to the older ‘kids-at-heart’ adults.

How much have you seen Halloween grow as a licensing opportunity over the past few years? Is the event now taking up a greater portion of your plans each year? Has it opened up new retail and licensee/partner avenues for the brand?

It’s unbelievable to see how big Halloween has grown and expanded around the world. More than just one day in October, the Halloween season has grown exponentially in the last decade to a staggering $10 billion industry. It’s also satisfying to see how the Halloween season has grown internationally.

Our own experience with the Addams Family licensing programme saw strong sales in many of the European markets. With the increased demand in Halloween seasonal sales, we expect robust Addams Family retail sales up to October 31.

Originally filmed in black and white, the TV series brings a nostalgic/retro feel to the brand.
Originally filmed in black and white, the TV series brings a nostalgic/retro feel to the brand.

What are the longer-term plans when it comes to building The Addams Family brand? What is the ultimate aim for MGM?

As the unofficial first family of Halloween, our goal is to build the Addams Family into an evergreen licensing programme that will find its way every Halloween season, but will also provide unique licensing opportunities all year long.

Families love to celebrate all sorts of holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, summer and more. So do the Addams Family, but of course in their own unique kooky way.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The Addams Family has entertained fans for over 75 years. Anchored by the irresistible and instantly recognisable finger-snapping theme song, the groundbreaking series has been adapted across television, film and stage, making it accessible across generations.

Few companies have the brand power and storytelling tradition of MGM, so we are proud to take this beloved franchise to the next level and share the Addams Family offbeat humor, kooky characters, close-knit and loving family through our merchandising programme and beyond.

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