By Matthew McKibben | June 4, 2014
Have you ever wandered into a Target or Toys R Us and wondered where all the X-Men: Days of Future Past tie-in toys are? There sure seem to be tons of Robert Downey Jr. lookalike Iron Man toys and shelves of Captain America: The Winter Soldier toys, but no toy tie ins for the X-Men movies. Famed comic book writer Rob Liefeld thinks it’s a part of Marvel Entertainment’s overall corporate strategy. He recently took to Twitter and offered his two cents:
“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. The Fox shut out is real. 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.” Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 toys everywhere, X-Men – zippo. No promotions from toy aisles. Starve those properties. Makes X-Men [box office] comeback impressive! No emotion in these facts/reporting, it’s just numbers and business. But the messages are clear, X-Men: Days of Future Past toys would get in the way of upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy onslaught of toys. Bottom line, it’s a ballsy move to downgrade properties with high profile, big budget support in favor of stuff you control wholesale. Gotta respect it. And equal respect to those properties slugging it out without equal support across multiple platforms. You gotta understand, I love this stuff!! I love the business of comic films/brands and the unique situation Marvel has with their licenses. My un-informed prediction: Sony will split producing/financing w/Marvel on next Spidey film and open door for inclusion in Avengers 3.”
There’s no doubt a bit of bluster to his quote, however he does have a point. As a person with two small kids, I find myself in the toy aisle of stores almost every other week and have yet to see any X-Men: Days of Future Past toys. To be honest, although he says you can find Amazing Spider-Man toys, I don’t think I’ve seen many of those either. Sure there are plenty of X-Men and Spider-Man toys to be found, but nothing that directly ties the franchise to the toys.
With The Amazing Spider-Man doing mediocre box-office business and with Sony facing all kinds of monetary issues, it’s not hard to see what Marvel is doing. The worse these movies do, the more likely Marvel is to gain back the rights to the Spider-Man franchise. With 20th Century Fox, it’s kind of a different ballgame. While not mega-blockbusters, the X-Men movies are pretty profitable. So from a corporate consolidation standpoint, it’s brutal but strategically sound to see if you can smoke Spider-Man out and get those rights back. But in the meantime, it does kind of suck as a fan to be used as a pawn in a larger corporate chess game.
But these are high stakes, people. Disney didn’t become the number one entertainment company in the world on accident. If you’re Sony or 20th Century Fox, here’s a very real question you’re faced with: Warner Bros. and DC are partnered for their properties, and Disney owns the rights to Star Wars, Marvel Studios, and Pixar… what’s left?