MGM details its Legally Blonde Turns 21 merchandise and interactive entertainment campaign

MGM has lifted the lid on its latest campaign, a commemorative celebration of the popular Hollywood film, Legally Blonde as it celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2022.

In honour of the first film’s milestone, MGM’s licensing and consumer products division has launched Legally Blonde Turns 21, a broad campaign featuring merchandising and interactive entertainment focusing on the film’s key tenets of empowerment, education, humour, and pink fashion.

MGM is encouraging fans to celebrate through a wide-ranging roster of blue-chip partners, with 21 licensing partners already on board across the US, Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile spanning apparel, accessories, collectables, interactive entertainment and more.

Some of the licensees to have signed with MGM for the Legally Blonde Turns 21 campaign, include Jerry Leigh of California for costumes and apparel, Park Agencies for apparel and hats, and POetic Brands for pyjamas, loungewear, and apparel. They are joined by Olympia Le Tan for designer bags and clutches, and Solent Brands Limited for home decor, health and beauty, stationery, and cell phone cases.

Meanwhile, Funko is delivering on the collectables space, while PlaySide Studios is readying a mobile game, and TCG Entertainment is rolling out its concert series.

“Legally Blonde continues to inspire fans around the world with its positive messages and confident characters and has led to some incredible pop culture partnerships and products over the years,” said Robert Marick, executive vice president of Global Consumer Products and Experiences.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the iconic film in 2022, and bring our dedicated fans new and exciting merchandise to honor the milestone.”

Over the past two decades, Legally Blonde and the bold and confident Elle Woods have become a part of pop culture, inspiring fashion collaborations, product launches and a first-of-its-kind Legally Blonde themed mobile game from PlaySide Studios.

Later this year, MGM is also set to launch a movie-themed concert tour to celebrate the fun music of this widely loved franchise. Legally Blonde is making its return to the big screen with Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor co-writing the script for the film’s third iteration, Legally Blonde 3which will see Reese Witherspoon reprise her role as the beloved Elle Woods.

Amazon reaches agreement to acquire MGM Studios in $8.45bn deal

Amazon has reached a deal to acquire MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, the second largest acquisition ever for the online goliath and one that sees Amazon take up MGM’s vast catalogue of some 4,000 films and blockbuster franchises, including James Bond.

The deal represents a major milestone in the tech giant’s push into the entertainment space, significantly strengthening the company’s portfolio of films and content, adding to the library that Amazon has already built through its own movie studio.

It is the latest acquisition to take place amid the ongoing battle for eyeballs among streaming giants like Netflix,  Disney, and the resultant streaming platform to launch following WarnerMedia’s acquisition of Discovery’s earlier this month. Other tech giants such as Apple and Netflix had reportedly eyes an MGM takeover, but passed on the chance.

The $8.45 billion deal marks the second largest acquisition made by Amazon to date, behind its $13.7 billion Whole Foods deal. It now gives Amazon access to MGM’s vast catalog of classic Hollywood films like Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, Rocky, Silence of the Lambs, and Pink Panther.

MGM also shares the film rights of the James Bond franchise with Eon Productions – a holding company owned by the Wilson/Broccoli family – which will retain creative control over the spy film series.

The announcement notes that the deal will be completed after “regulatory approvals.”

“MGM has a vast catalog with more than 4,000 films. . . that have collectively won more than 180 Academy Awards and 100 Emmys,” said Mike Hopkins, Amazon’s senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

“It has been an honor to have been a part of the incredible transformation of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. To get here took immensely talented people with a true belief in one vision. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the MGM team who have helped us arrive at this historic day,” said Kevin Ulrich, chairman of the board of directors of MGM.

“I am very proud that MGM’s Lion, which has long evoked the Golden Age of Hollywood, will continue its storied history, and the idea born from the creation of United Artists lives on in a way the founders originally intended, driven by the talent and their vision. The opportunity to align MGM’s storied history with Amazon is an inspiring combination.”

Amazon’s decision to acquire MGM comes hot on the heels of another major Hollywood tie-up in which AT&T agreed to spin off its media division WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery in a $43 billion deal. That deal aims to create a global streaming giant to rival the likes of Amazon, Disney and Netflix.

MGM Studios partners with PlaySide Studios to launch first Legally Blonde mobile game

MGM Studios has partnered with PlaySide Studios to develop and publish its first Legally Blonde themed mobile game based on the studio’s feature films Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.

The new game will be free to play on iOS and Android mobile devices as it rolls out to global audiences this year.

The game will combine puzzle and choice-based narrative mechanics with themes of empowerment and positivity as protrayed in the Legally Blonde film franchise. The result, says MGM, will be an immersive mobile game experience that allows players to tell their own Legally Blonde story.

Legally Blonde continues to resonate with new generations of audiences today as the film turns 20 this year. MGM is building out a licensing line around the movie’s key tenets – empowerment, education, humor and of course, fashion. Additionally, Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor have signed on to co-write the script for Legally Blonde 3which will see Reese Witherspoon reprise her role as the beloved Elle Woods in 2022.

Collaborating with MGM to publish the Legally Blonde game marks a significant moment in PlaySide’s company history as it represents its first movie-based brand licensing agreement for a mobile title developed internally.

PlaySide’s CEO, Gerry Sakkas, said: “This is a historic occasion for PlaySide. Since the Company was founded, I have always wanted to bring a major Hollywood brand to the mobile space. I couldn’t think of a better partner in MGM, an iconic Hollywood studio with a rich 90-year history of premier movie titles, it’s truly an exhilarating time for PlaySide.”

Robert Marick, executive vice president, MGM Global Consumer Products & Experiences, said: “Legally Blonde is one of those iconic and inspirational brands that continues to appeal to new generations of fans around the world.

“We are thrilled to partner with PlaySide Studios to bring these trailblazing films to mobile devices, and offer consumers a new way to interact with one of our most cherished characters, Elle Woods.”

Rising Up: MGM Studios on how 45 years later the Rocky franchise is still packing a punch

The trumpets, the grey tracksuit, the run up the stairs and the timeless story of David vs Goliath, the underdog with the eye of the tiger; there’s very little about the Rocky franchise that isn’t iconic. It’s difficult to believe that it’s been… [checks notes]… 45 years since Sylvester Stallone first stepped into the ring as Rocky, and not so difficult to believe that over the course of four and a half decades, he has emerged as a staple image of popular culture.

The sentimental affinity that the world shares with the message and storyline of Rocky aside for a moment, the statistics alone for the franchise are as impressive as Rocky’s boxing career. This is a franchise that has accrued $1.3Billion at the box office; three academy awards and 10 nominations, two golden globes across six films, and has given rise to two spin offs in the form of the more recent Creed films. 

If ever there was a case of life imitating art, suggests Robert Marick, executive vice president of global consumer products and experiences at MGM, the rights holders and studio behind the franchise, Rocky is surely it.

News of MGM’s partnership with TCG Entertainment to bring live Rocky concerts to the global stage as part of the 45th anniversary celebrations of the Rocky franchise has already fired up the engines of its core audience base across the world; so word that this is just a part of the wider plans to celebrate the global cinematic, pop culture, and even sporting culture icon that is Rocky Balboa is certain to send it into fever pitch.

Here, talks with MGM’s Robert Marick to discuss a cultural icon, learn more about those 45th anniversary plans, and discover what kind of potential a brand that spans not only cinema, but pop culture, sport culture, lifestyle and more, has within the ever evolving licensing space.

People talk about iconic brands a lot in licensing, but Rocky without doubt is a true icon – of cinema, pop culture, and beyond – from the soundtrack, style, iconic film scenes, the script its story, and even the acting. Handling the licensing programme for something embedded in culture must be an exciting prospect?

To be honest, it’s a privilege. While everything you’ve mentioned is accurate, Rocky is so much more. From underdog to champion, there is so much depth to the franchise that appeals to its core audience. Because of the multi-dimensional nature of the franchise, it allows us to re-interpret the licensing program in so many ways.   

How do you begin to look at the licensing strategy for something so well revered the world over?

The Rocky franchise provides a multi-dimensional view and therefore a complimentary licensing strategy. In 2021, we’ve rallied around the theme “Champion”. As we developed the Rocky 45th licensing plan, we provided three opportunities. Train like a champion; Look like a champion; and Feel like a champion.

Each opportunity allows for unique product segmentation of licensed product. If you want to “look like a champion”, apparel and accessories is a natural fit. For those that want to “train like a champion”, gym equipment and interactive games such as VR games, workout systems allow fans to train like Rocky; If fans want to “feel like a champion” and show their fandom, publishing, collectibles and replicas will deliver on that aspiration.

In support of this strategy, we developed a bespoke style guide celebrating the 45th anniversary. Our licensing program is focused to rally the “everyday Rocky” to tap into their inner champion, celebrate champions in his or her community, and give fans new ways to show their love for the Rocky franchise all year long.

 You recently detailed the TCG Entertainment partnership, which seems to have fans really excited for the 45th celebrations. What other plans have you got for the anniversary? What aspects of licensing will the plans span? 

While the full roll out plans are still being finalized, I can tell you that we are planning a year-long celebration which will include new and exciting merchandise, interactive games, licensed advertising and location-based entertainment activations.  One example is the Rocky Run. In its seventh year, the Rocky Run unites fans from all over the world to Philadelphia, with like-minded fans, and for a day, step into Rocky’s footsteps where they are able to train, look and feel like a champion leading all the way up those famous stairs.

How much will the current global situation influence the plans and licensing roll out? How do you think it has shaped innovation within licensing, and will you guys be tapping into any of the trends here?

We don’t want to capitalize on this global situation and proactively push the point. Instead we want to focus on the future and getting through it by having Rocky fans express their own Rocky moment and using Rocky to motivate and inspire them to persevere and go the distance. It needs to be and should be organic. 

Can you talk us through the new partners you’ve got lined up for the brand, what categories will you be spanning? What of the current partnerships will you be expanding upon?

Boxing/Athleisure has been identified as a new Fashion Trend. Boxing remains mainstream, trendy and relevant for men and women and Rocky’s signature grey hoodie has made a major comeback. We are looking for key collaborations that can bring together two powerful brands. As for new categories to explore, we are looking at pet, jewelry accessories and location based and live entertainment.

Rocky and Creed are in a unique position that they cover both pop culture and sporting markets, you’ve mentioned the Rocky themed running events in the works – how far will you be taking the sports and entertainment crossover? What potential does this offer?

A great example of this cross over is the Rocky / Creed Rise to Glory VR game by Survios. It’s become an evergreen title, that – similar to the Rocky Run – gives fans a chance to step in the ring and train and feel like a champion. I am excited to share that the hit, Creed: Rise to Glory VR game will be available on console platforms in time for the 45th anniversary. Other opportunities in this area are vast and we are currently exploring our gym and fitness equipment.

Why do you think Rocky continues to resonate with fans across the globe? 

The Rocky franchise is a global phenomenon! The story has so many themes such as ambition, determination, courage, being the underdog and rising to the top etc., and that all translates across generations, demographics and cultures around the world. Everyday people can relate to Rocky in some shape, way or form. Today, more than ever, Rocky is beacon of hope and inspiration around the world. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 45 years since fans saw Rocky hit enter the ring for the first time. Looking back over the years, it’s amazing what Sylvester Stallone accomplished. Just like the Rocky character, the franchise and Sylvester Stallone, beat all the odds at the time as an up-and-coming writer, director and actor. 

The statistics are staggering. $1.3Billion at the box office; three academy awards and 10 nominations; two golden globes across six films and two spin offs with the Creed films. In this case, lifeimitatesart. What a champion!

David Lynch’s Blue Velvet turns heads at Paris Fashion Week with Italy’s Off White collection

The David Lynch American neo-noir mystery Blue Velvet has become the focus of a new licensed fashion line, created by the Italian luxury label, Off White. The collection – developed in collaboration with MGM Studios – was unveiled at Paris Fashion Week.

It includes stylish tees and slacks that feature imagery from 1986’s Blue Velvet, and has been styled to capture the essence of a cult classic film and is set to debut at retail this August 2020.

Blue Velvet is one of only a select few entertainment collaborations created by Off White, an Italian luxury label founded by Virgil Abloh, who also serves as the Men’s Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton.  The items featured as part of Paris Fashion Week included Autumn Winter 2020 runway collection looks adorned in varying blue shades and silver embellishments.

More specifically, the line featured a midnight blue, off-the shoulder gown with silver chainmail belt complemented by scalloped, blue velvet heels, a silver embellished blazer and cerulean blue, leather trousers, and a silver sequin, asymmetrical gown paired with midnight blue velvet scalloped heels to evoke the essence of silver screen glamour.

Directed by David Lynch, Blue Velvet is widely considered a cult classic. It stars Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, and Laura Dern, and is named after Bobby Vinton’s 1963 song.

Robert Marick, executive vice president, global consumer products and experiences, at MGM said: “Off White is one of the most influential fashion labels on the market right now and is universally recognised for its unexpected and fresh designs.

“We knew they would have an artful take on Blue Velvet and are thrilled with the line they’ve created, which really captures this amazing film in an authentic and unique way.”

The collaboration with Off White is part of MGM’s growing licensing program to leverage its library of more than 4,000 films, along with its iconic trademark lion logo, to create meaningful programmes around trending genres including horror and Sci-Fi, anniversaries such as the 45th anniversary of Rocky, and more.