Posted by Dale Buss on March 26, 2010 06:10 AM
The toy industry and Hollywood have been bedfellows for decades, back to the era of Saturday-morning cartoon shows. And the synergies between the two businesses nearly always have been significant, sometimes even explosive.
Now Mattel, the world’s No. 1 toy company, aims to take this “transmedia” symbiosis to its logical conclusion. New York magazine reports that Mattel has challenged its designers to come up with a toy line that can simultaneously be turned into a TV show, feature, film, or game, creating a powerhouse brand from the start. No more waiting for the toy or the movie to come out.
That makes a lot of sense. To date, the movie industry typically has developed pre-existing toys, such as G.I. Joe, into movies – sometimes decades after the toy brand has been established. But the Transformers franchise collapsed that timeline. And the stakes in this game have gotten a lot bigger since the gaming medium became part of the picture.
So there’s not really a good reason for the toy business and Hollywood to work in silos anymore – especially if they’re going to end up with the net result of trying to create brand synergies between their respective media and outlets at some point anyway.
Many critics, of course, will decry this development, but they weren’t going to be fans of the Transformers franchise whether the toy or the movie came first. There are a lot of things that movie critics don’t like, and many of them are very popular movies.
Reportedly, the first transmedia project out of the box under Mattel’s new paradigm will be the story of an alien civilization that’s been living in the depths of Earth’s oceans. But that may change: What’s so new about Atlantis?