Books remain one of the simplest and safest ways to take advantage of the merchandising opportunities provided by hit movies and television series, particularly if a retailer is working with a distributor who will keep the books available so they don't have to be stocked heavily at the store level. The large number of movie/TV books available this season should provide opportunities for a wide range of pop culture stores. Here is a quick sampling of just a few of the many titles that were on display at this year's Book Expo America.
Newmarket Press is the leading publisher of movie tie-in titles. Retailers who didn't carry Newmarket's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon volume (see 'Crouching Tiger, The Book') or The Art of the Matrix definitely missed some prime opportunities. This summer Newmarket is offering A Knight's Tale: The Shooting Script (trade paperback, $17.95), which includes 50 full color production stills plus an introduction by director Brian Helgeland, who wrote the screenplay for L.A. Confidential. Even more spectacular is Newmarket's illustrated Moulin Rouge!, a deluxe $34.95 hardcover with over 250 color illustrations from Baz Luhrman's stylish musical. But the book with the most potential may well be Planet of the Apes ($22.95 trade, $34.95 hardcover), which features an introduction by director Tim Burton and over 200 color illustration. This volume takes the reader from production sketch to finished sequence in detailing what is sure to be one of the summer's biggest films.
Just because a film does well at the box office, it doesn't mean that it will necessarily move a lot of books. The Mummy Returns for example has done exceptionally well in the box office derby, but it doesn't have the story or the visual style that makes for a hot film book. On the other hand, a smaller movie like Terry Zwigoff's film version of Dan Clowes Ghost World (see 'Ghost World Looks Like a Summer Sleeper') has excellent potential, particularly in this market where retailers can sell both the movie edition of the graphic novel as well as an illustrated screenplay (by Clowes and Zwigoff, trade paperback, $16.95), which features a new comic by Clowes on the inside front cover and a lengthy color section.
Chronicle Books has a tradition of great design, and the two movie books on its fall list are no exceptions. The Art of Monsters, Inc. (hardcover, $40.00) is based on the Disney/Pixar collaboration that is due out in November. Monsters, Inc. looks like a monster hit and this volume will be a compendium of the best images from the film created by the folks who brought you the Toy Story films. Chronicle's other major movie book is The Wildlife of Star Wars (hardcover, $40.00), a meticulously detailed look at the otherworldly creatures who populate the Star Wars universe done in a style the perfectly apes the Field Guides prepared by our earthbound naturalists.
The first film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, is due out in December, and several excellent books about the film will appear early in 2002. But don't neglect the original Tolkien books that the films are based on, or David Day's Tolkien, The Illustrated Encyclopedia, which comes out in December in trade paperback from Simon & Schuster. This 8'x 11,' 240-page volume is illustrated throughout in full color and sports a very reasonable $25.00 cover price.
Television shows may not make the huge splash that blockbuster films do, but in general they last a lot longer. Case in point, Star Trek, which returns to the airwaves in a new incarnation, Enterprise. Just as the new series gets going in October, retailers will once again have the ultimate guide to the ships of the Star Trek universe, the Star Trek: Starship Spotter (trade paperback, $16.00), available from Pocket Books.
Another long-running series that will be back on TV in the fall is the X-Files, and Simon & Schuster has The Real Science Behind the X-Files ready for a late September release. Series creator Chris Carter provides the foreword for this gripping exploration of the scientific facts and theories behind some of the X-Files most intriguing episodes, discussing telomeres, cloning, the Hayflick limit, nanotechnology, endosymbionts, lentviruses, and other strange phenomena.