Have you been searching high and low for an X-Men or Fantastic Four action figure and found them increasingly rare? Well, there may be a reason for that, and it’s not because the toys are popular – it’s because the movies are popular, and Marvel doesn’t like that.
According to reports from comicbook.com and moviepilot.com, Marvel is firing shots at its own franchises in order to get the movie rights back. The Spider-Man and X-Men movies have been doing very well in the box office, but the money doesn’t stop there. As Mel Brooks so eloquently put it in Spaceballs: “Moichandising! Moichandising! Where da real money from da movie is made.” However, the plan is about more than just money.
Rob Liefeld explains the strategy as thus: “X-Men: Days of Future Past will match if not exceed The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s domestic box office, meaning lots of eyeballs, but there are no toy tie-ins. … It’s not money that matters in this strategy, it’s the hearts and minds of kids/toy buyers, not-too-subtly communicating what’s ‘important.’”
So, how can Fox and Sony get the tie-in toys back on the shelves? The movies keep making money, so surrendering the movie rights back to Marvel would make them lose even more, but perhaps they could at least work together to tie them in a little. Let Wolverine and Spider-Man cameo in The Avengers, even if they don’t join the team; allow for some cross-studio appearances to further expand the Marvel cinematic universe, and everyone will benefit. After all, we do tend to love crossovers.
It may not be immediately clear if the strategy has any impact, but if it works, it will still have a visible effect. See how many kids are playing with figurines of Iron Man and the Hulk, then we’ll see if that affects which heroes and movies they prefer.