Historically it has become very common for a film franchise to expect sharp declines in toy sales the year after a theatrical film release. For example, toys related to film franchises, like “Jurassic World” often experience large double-digit sales declines in the years following their initial film releases. But can subscription video on demand (SVOD) content stabilize toy sales years after theatrical release?
While most of the franchises (shown below) declined by at least 45% after the second year, the Jurassic World franchise (based on the 2018 film release) found a way to sustain strong performance in later years, despite the lack of a big blockbuster film release.
The effect of SVOD content on “Jurassic Park/World” licensed toy sales
At the beginning of 2020, the decline in sales for toys related to “Jurassic Park/World” was not a big surprise. After all, the last film from the franchise was released in theaters back in June 2018. However, in April 2020 we began to see a turnaround in performance at around the same time the overall toys industry entered a time of unprecedented growth, bolstered by the newly enacted CARES Act. Coinciding with the Netflix release window for the “Jurassic Park” trilogy in August, followed by “Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous” in September, the “Jurassic Park/World” toys franchise experienced its strongest growth during the second half of the year.
While year-over-year sales of “Jurassic Park/World” licensed toys had originally declined by 29% during the first half of the year, the property later recovered, rising by 20% during the second half of the year (with “Camp Cretaceous” items accounting for 29% of growth). All of this data provides clear evidence that the franchise’s original SVOD content complemented the strong sales performance for the toys.
Big shifts in SVOD content continue to emerge, with the debut of “Camp Cretaceous” and other spin-off originals. There is a lot of lingering uncertainty about when theatrical releases might normalize; however, the norm for early this year (at least) will be the hybrid environment of SVOD releases happening in tandem with, and independent of, theatrical releases.
Could this shift in how movies release become the next standard the industry adopts—or is it just a phase that will blow over once the industry reverts to its previous theatrical-release mode? While the current hybrid release situation could very well become the “new normal,” it remains to be seen which direction the industry might choose.