Mumbai: The release of the movie Iron Man 3 in India will be accompanied by 15 merchandising tie-ins for various products such as watches, skates, scooters and even bed linen carrying the superhero’s image, the first time that a Hollywood release will see the launch of such a wide range of items, according to The Walt Disney Co.

The third part of the movie series based on the Marvel Comics character will release on Friday across about 1,100 screens in India, a week before its US debut, Disney said. The movie, starring Robert Downey Jr, will be dubbed in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil and shown in 3D and 2D.

The merchandise is expected to earn around 150 crore in retail sales, according to executives who didn’t want to be named.

“We have presence across all major product categories, including apparel for men and boys, accessories, toys, home solutions, back-to-school products and much more," said Roshini Bakshi, managing director, consumer products and retail, at Disney UTV. Marvel, which produced the movie, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney in 2010.

The merchandising agreements are with partners such as Cotton World, Myntra, Bioworld, Zovi and Max for Iron Man apparel; Titan will launch a special range of Zoop watches; Simba Toys and HM International will launch a range of school products; and D’Décor will launch a range of bed linen.

Disney has also tied up with the Indian Premier League’s Mumbai Indians team for a special range of cricket merchandise.

According to industry estimates, the licensing and merchandising business in India is worth around $350 million annually, of which movie merchandising is around $25 million.

While Hollywood films have a less than 10% share of the Indian box office, iconic franchise movies such as Spider-Man and Batman have gained a foothold outside the metro cities as they are increasingly being dubbed into regional languages, trade experts said.

“While the primary objective of movie merchandising is both revenue growth and to popularize the franchise, I believe that merchandising helps keep a brand alive much beyond its theatrical release," said Jiggy George, founder and CEO of Dream Theatre Pvt. Ltd, a company that has the merchandising and licensing rights to the movie properties of studios such as DreamWorks and also represents brands such as Angry Birds, Warner Bros, WWE and PowerRangers.

“So, in case of a superhero film, merchandise combined with rollouts of home video, satellite playouts etc., keep the brand resonant until the next movie of the franchise hits the screens," George said.

The first instalment of the series in 2008 earned around 11 crore from the Indian box office while 2010’s Iron Man 2 grossed about 17 crore.

“A huge reason for the increasing acceptance of Hollywood content in India is the new generation of 15-24 audiences who have grown up in an age of 24x7 satellite television and the Internet, giving them direct and immediate access to a wide array of content from around the world, thus broadening the taste for content that is not local," said Siddharth Roy Kapur, managing director, studios, Disney UTV. The movie is being distributed in India by UTV Motion Pictures, which is owned by Disney.

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