Okay so people must remember a time when movie merchanidising was squarely aimed at kids: when I was younger it seemed that the film-related merch was all tacky little dolls, t-shirts with strange slogans and catchphrases on them and a whole load of other twiddly, cheap crap that they’d sell in the cinema (because at the time my local cinema had a merch section. It’s now a pick’n’mix section).
Now it’s not so simple. It’s also covering a whole range of the financial spectrum. You must know what this is a still from:
If you don’t then you’ve clearly been living under a rock for the past few months. It’s Javier Bardem and Julia Roberts in the adaptation of “Eat Pray Love” which was released in the US just recently. Basically, a woman leaves her husband and goes on a journey of self-discovery, doing those three things that the title would suggest. But aside from that all-important ticket to get in to actually see the movie, there’s a whole load of merchandising that’s been tacked on alongside it.
I was first exposed to this merch while waching “The Daily Show”, where, on it’s “Back In Black” section we were given a whole load of products from those home-buying networks to look at and, yes, maybe even laugh at. Some of this crazy crap includes: prayer beads, necklaces, t-shirts, make-a-wish bracelets, fragrances, special travel packages, more t-shirts, more jewellery aaaaand special tea. So there’s no denying that these products perhaps have some kind of tie-in with the movie but do we really need to be going around wearing bracelets and necklaces that have the words “Eat. Pray. Love” stamped on them?
Of course, this is actually a bit of an epidemic in terms of merch. When “Sex In The City 2” came out we were bombarded by promotions, not least from Muller and other yoghurt companies who plastered the branding all over their 8-packs. Then there was “Alice In Wonderland” which resulted in many kids in my town carrying bags and other such obvious merch around with them (although my suspicion about this surrounds “The Nightmare Before Christmas” which hasn’t stoped producing tween-goths since it tooks its first steps in the merch world. “Alice” has taken eerily similar steps).
I suppose it means that Hollywood could be taking their older female audiences a little more seriously: market research shows that the biggest cinema-goers are between the ages of 16-25 yet we’re given merch for a film that’s clearly aimed at a much more specific audience, perhas indicating that people think promoters think they’re a market that needs to be catered for. On the other hand, I don’t think we need all of this stuff on sale. It would be better to buy something without the labelling on it so it would last longer and not fade into obscurity a few months later when the film finishes its run.