I have always had a love of comic books. My Dad’s store sold them so we fortunately always had one of each issue stored in a big box under the bed in my older brother’s room. As a result, I always get a little excited by a new character or a new development for an old one.
That was why I took notice last week when DC and Marvel announced their planned movie releases through 2020 (see: The Movie Wars; DC vs. Marvel). As a product guy, however, my excitement turned to apprehension when I took in the sheer number of characters to be consumed.
I have reason for my concern. Comic book product tie-in sales have generally trended down over the last few years. There are a number of reasons cited: Too many movie parts 2, 3 and 4; consumer exhaustion with an overload of costumed characters as well as too many super hero movies being released in the same year.
I think the bigger issue is that though studios are great at creating ticket sales they are not so great at moving movie product tie-ins off the shelf. For example, Marvel has loaded up the summer of 2015 with three big releases: Avengers: Age of Ultron; Ant-Man and Fantastic Four. That means in a four month period, the movie-goer will be presented with the following characters: Quicksilver, Black Widow, Ultron, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, The Hulk, Nick Fury, Ant-Man, The Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Dr. Doom and The Human Torch.
I count 16 major characters. Isn’t that a lot to choose from in a short time? Maybe not for teen and adult fans but it seems a bit overwhelming for the 7 year old movie-goer. Does that array of character choices and subsequent consumer decision making allow enough space in a child's brain to form an affinity around any one tie-in character?
If that looks like a traffic jam; consider the lineup in 2016; that in my next posting.