“2019 has been a whirlwind for Universal,” says Hannah. “It is continuing to build momentum with so many of its properties and the team are looking forward to a great 2020. That’s due to some great wins for us this past year. The strong box office performance of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World really boosted the entire CP programme, led by Universal’s master toy partner Spin Master. That success really reflects upon our ‘always on’ approach to content. We know it’s not just about having a movie out every couple years; we want to keep the brand top-of-mind and we achieved that with the Dragons series airing on both Netflix and BBC.
Another highlight for us is our U Vault portfolio. Nostalgia has never been more of-the-moment. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that properties like Back to the Future, Jaws and E.T. would have such incredible staying power, but there is no denying it. They have had such a cultural impact and it just keeps going and going. This year was a big moment for us, as we started to move beyond T-shirts and apparel into a slew of other categories including gift and accessories. I expect that whole area to continue growing in 2020 and beyond.
We are very excited for 2020; we have two, big movies to bolster our major franchises with the release of DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour on March 20th, and Illumination’s Minions: Rise of Gru, hitting cinemas on July 3rd. The track record for those two franchises is really strong and the timing is set to make an impact worldwide. I also think that 2020 will be a great year for our TV output. DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free is a great, unique property for girls, as it offers something beyond what has been on the market before.
Finally, 2020 is the 35th anniversary of Back to the Future and that will be a real boon for our U Vault division. That IP has built up a several generations of real equity and we know fans are going to want to mark the anniversary.”
The read the full interview in the October issue of Toy World, click here.