The only toy-based blockbuster of 2007, Transformers, which opens July 4th, should be able to move a lot of merchandise.  Director Michael Bay previewed 25 minutes of the film at Toy Fair and it was very well received.  Nostalgia for the 1980s Transformers TV series and Bay's proclivity for cinematic pyrotechnics could well make this live action adaptation of a cartoon series a hit in spite of the fact that so many efforts to adapt other animated series like Rocky & Bullwinkle turned out to be ignominious failures.  Hasbro is fielding a wide array of Transformers toys and has licensed everything from books to pajamas -- and Wizards of the Coast even conducted a survey on its Web site to gauge interest in a possible new Transformers CMG, so there will be an abundance of Transformers merchandise available.


On July 13th, just nine days after the Transformers opens, comes Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  The Potter franchise may be getting a little long in the tooth especially in terms of stimulation of merchandise sales, but the combination of the release of the movie adaptation of the fifth Harry Potter novel and the July 21st publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series should set off waves of Pottermania.


Also in July is The Simpsons Movie, and while it's hard to imagine how the profile of this long-running property can be elevated any further, the movie should provide a boost while the TV series is in reruns.  McFarlane Toys is producing highly detailed figures from the film (see 'McFarlane Toys Snags Simpson's Movie'), while Bongo Comics continues to publish superb Simpsons comics as well as trade paperbacks that are always at or near the top in bookstore sales in the 'humor' category.


Disney's live action/CGI Underdog movie hit theaters on August 3rd and Mezco is producing a wonderful series of vinyl action figures (see 'Mezco's Underdog Action Figures').  The classic Underdog cartoons will also be available on DVD for the first time in August, and should have a strong nostalgic appeal.


A week later  on August 10th Paramount's film of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust debuts.  Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) and featuring a stellar cast that includes Sienna Miller, Claire Danes, Peter O'Toole, and Robert DeNiro, Stardust has the potential to stimulate major sales of Gaiman's Stardust as well as Titan Books' Stardust the Visual Companion (see 'Stardust: The Visual Companion').


Fanboys, which opens on August 17th, may not have much directly related merchandise, but it should appeal to the core direct market audience (and beyond) with its tale of teens making a cross-country pilgrimage to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch to see Star Wars Episode I -- and having Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) in the cast certainly won't hurt either.


Slated to open on August 24th, One Missed Call is a remake of Takashi Miike's Chakushin Ari (2003), one of the most interesting and innovative examples of the modern J-Horror genre.  Dark Horse has just published a manga adaptation of Miike's original, One Missed Call 1+2, by Yasushi Akimoto and Mayumi Shihou.


An adaptation of Steve Niles' graphic novel 30 Days of Night, an ingenious vampire saga set during the month-long darkness of the Alaskan winter, opens (appropriately) just a couple of weeks before Halloween on October 14th -- and is likely to be one of the top films of the year in terms of graphic novel sales.


Bob Zemeckis' motion-capture adaptation of the Old English epic Beowulf is based on a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, and when it opens on November 10th, savvy retailers can make the connection to Gaiman's substantial oeuvre -- and McFarlane Toys will be producing its usual highly-detailed, superbly sculpted action figures (see 'McFarlane Toys Gets Beowulf License')


The holiday season proved to be kind for New Line's Lord of the Rings trilogy, so who can fault them for opening The Golden Compass, the first film in what could be another major fantasy film trilogy, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, on December 7th.  Inkworks has Golden Compass Trading Cards (see 'Inkworks Has The Golden Compass') and Corgi has a wide range of merchandise from the film (see 'Corgi's The Golden Compass Toy Line').


Finally on Christmas Day Fox will release Alien Vs. Predator: Survival of the Fittest, the second teaming alien menaces that first took place in the pages of Dark Horse Comics.


While this survey may seem exhaustive, the fact is that ICv2 may have missed a number of pertinent movies and other films of major interest to pop culture retailers could yet be scheduled for the remainder of 2007.  Dark is Rising, an adaptation of one of Susan Cooper's five-novel fantasy series, could well debut this year, as could the long-awaited Southland Tales.  Director Richard Kelly has now published (via Graphitti Designs) all three Southland Tales graphic novels that are part of this saga, and now he is reportedly seeking more financing in order to finish the special effects for the film, which was shown in an incomplete form at last year's Cannes film festival.


For the part 1 of this story, click here.