Warner Bros. sets licensing for 'Batman' classic TV series
Rights issues resolved on Fox's campy 1960s series
By Marc Graser
As a blitz of merchandise hits store shelves for "The Dark Knight Rises," Warner Bros. is turning to a campier source for a new Caped Crusader product: the 1960s "Batman" TV series.
For the first time in 40 years, Warner Bros. Consumer Products will be able to use the likeness of the show's stars, including Adam West, Burt Ward, Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith, on everything from apparel to toys, home goods, publishing and promotions.
WBCP will introduce the new "Batman" product opportunities to potential partners and retailers at next week's Licensing Expo, running June 12-14 in Las Vegas. First products will launch in the spring.
Retailers had requested a larger merchandise line tied to the show over the years, but studio arm had previously been able to use only the series' logo, POW!-packed animated opening sequence and the Batmobile for product, not the actors, due to rights issues as the series was produced by 20th Century Fox. As a result, studio was limited to a small line of T-shirts and a die-cast Batmobile made by Mattel.
Studio began negotiating with Fox, West and the estates of the show's other thesps for the rights to their likenesses in August 2009. Batman is a DC Comics character.
Division is eager to exploit the "Batman" series, which aired on ABC from 1966-68, especially its colorful characters, gadgets like the Bat phone and Bat boat, and kitschy humor, an easier sell for retailers than the darker, more serious and gritty tone of Christopher Nolan's film trilogy.
Company is talking to department stores about carrying exclusive lines of "Batman" show merchandise, the way Bloomingdale's turned to its household brands like Marc Jacobs and Psycho Bunny to tap into the 75th anniversary of DC Comics.
"For the first time in over 40 years we will be able to offer fans a full merchandise program that captures the classic, kitschy look and feel of the original 'Batman' TV show," said Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products. "This new licensing program allows our partners to take advantage of the characters, gadgets and humor that made the show a smash hit in its day and a perennial favorite decades later."
Warner Bros. also will promote "Man of Steel," the next two "Hobbit" films, "The Looney Tunes Show," "The Wizard of Oz," "Scooby-Doo" and "ThunderCats" TV shows at the Licensing Expo.