paidContent - Will The 'Twilight' Franchise Be A Virtual Bestseller, Too?

This story was written by Tameka Kee.
The Twilight franchise is epitome of a pop culture blockbuster: The first novel, Twilight, was the biggest-selling book of 2008, the movie grossed $383 million at box offices worldwide, and teens in North America have gobbled up the DVDs to the tune of $162 million in sales thus far (per The Numbers). So what’s next? A virtual experience, complete with branded virtual goods, of course.

Twilight is crossing into teen-friendly virtual world Habbo, and Summit Entertainment, the production company behind the movie, will find out if the franchise proves to be just as lucrative virtually. Habbo will launch the branded space in conjunction with the premiere of New Moon, the second movie in the franchise, this fall. 

Summit’s EVP of marketing Jack Pan told me the company chose to license the franchise to Habbo—over rivals like WeeWorld or Second Life—for three key reasons: Helsinki-based Habbo could develop multiple environments and branding platforms, the world’s teen demo is Twilight’s sweet spot, and its user base is especially global. “Twilight began with core fans here in the U.S., but that quickly accelerated overseas,” Pan said. “Habbo also has a large global footprint, which means we can serve and connect fans here and abroad.”

Pan said it was a rev-share deal, though didn’t offer up details; Habbo sealed a similar deal to develop an American Idol-branded virtual world in January. I asked him whether the Habbo deal was part of a bigger push to grow the franchise’s digital revenues—for example, was this just the precursor to Twilight-themed virtual goods on Facebook, or casual games on sites like Seventeen.com?

He said no, and that Summit was actually being very cautious about future licensing opportunities. “Digital media and social networks are a huge part of our marketing strategy. Twilight’s Facebook page has nearly three million fans; on MySpace, there are over 700,000 friends, and those are active communities,” Pan said. “But we need to manage the franchise carefully to prevent overexposure.” As for gauging the success of New Moon in Habbo, Pan said the preliminary metrics would be time spent, rates of sharing, and of course, whether teens are buying the virtual goods.

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By Tameka Kee