In an interview granted to Financial Times, and published this morning, Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney’s consumer products division, said that, altrough it should translate well into a computer game, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would not be “an enormous retail opportunity”. Lack of confidence or realism?

In this interview, Andy Mooney talks mainly about the new movie version of Narnia stories, an other story from a British author, CS Lewis. “The chronicles of Narnia : the lion, the witch and the wardrobe”, a live-adaptation of the first of the seven Narnia books, is due to be released at Christmas this year. “On a successful animated movie it is not unusual to do $500m to $1bn in retail sales for the lifetime of the product… We would except Narnia to be bigger than that because we have the advantage of phenomenal awarness around the world. The lifetimes (retail) revenues could be in the multi-bilion dollar range”. Aware of the “Phantom Menace” phenomenon (shops were left with unsold merchandise), Mr Mooney said the Narnia ties-in woul begin with interactive computer games before the launch of the film but would not turn into such a flood that consumers tired of the auction figures, stationery and other products well before the seventh and final instalment”.

Anyway, Hitchhiker’s movie merchandising will maybe go on after the theatrical release if it’s a hit. Variety reported last june that Andy Mooney “told a group attending the Licensing Show in Gotham (…) that big retailers have started hawking certain film-based toys more aggressively at DVD launch than at theatrical release. A proven property that’s already a hit in theaters is less risky, he said, and chains can also cross-sell discs and related product”. It seems that Disney’s consumer products division missed a good opportunity with the “Finding Nemo” DVD release, ant they obviously don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Right now, we still don’t know what kind of merchandise we’ll get for the Hitchhiker’s movie. It seems rather obvious that there will be a video game, and that a company should already work on this game if they want it in the shops at the same time, or even a few weeks before the movie’s theatrical release. And we already know that NECA will make some collectibles. But even if there won’t be some masssive merchandising, which is not a bad thing, we can expect other products to be anounced soon.