This morning, instead of going directly to my office, I made a stop in Times Square, which was overrun by Vikings… could be a little scary… but they were all smiling, taking pictures and generally enjoying the fact that their big Viking Boat (40 ft) was grounded in the heart of NYC. (Since I’m a native New Yorker, I have to say it was grounded in the heart of America).
After taking a few pictures… trying to hear what actress America Ferrera (Ugly Betty and the voice of Astrid) was saying to the cameras, I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Walmart’s SVP and General Manager of Entertainment, Gary Severson.
So how does America’s giant retailer decide when and how much muscle to put behind a new movie launch/property, well, Gary gave me some insight.
There are a lot of great movies that come out every year, but not all translate into merchandise, specifically toys, very well. But the How to Train Your Dragon property has such appeal, especially to boys, that it was clear that this was something to look at. Dragons are a terrific play pattern, and there is a demand for this type of product. Compound this with the studio behind the movie, DreamWorks, and the first toy partner to see the potential—Spin Master—well Walmart knew that this could be something big.
This great partnership launches today in Walmarts around the country and in theaters this Friday. Will your kids love this movie? …the answer is yes! They will love the story about Hiccup, a Viking teenager who just doesn’t fit in and the dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to look at the world differently. And, they will love the array of products that will be available at Walmart exclusively, such as toys (helmets and swords of course… made of foam), snacks, apparel, and other products to keep the story alive. We’ll see the DVDs later in the year so be ready to add it to your holiday list!