Hollywood is in crisis. That spells trouble for movie-themed toys.

The summer blockbusters are postponed this year. But their tie-in toys weren’t.

July 21, 2020

The summer movie season is officially canceled — and there’s one industry besides Hollywood having a tough time stomaching that news: the toy biz.

Hollywood and the toy industry are pretty simpatico. Back in 2015, one analyst estimated that movie tie-in toys made up 21% of $20.4B in toy sales.

Toy companies had already planned dozens of tie-ins for the big blockbusters of 2020 — Minions: The Rise of Gru, Fast & Furious 9, Mulan, Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, and Top Gun: Maverick.

But when Hollywood scrapped those original movie release dates, it left the toys in retail purgatory.

Welcome to the great movie toy surplus

By the time COVID-19 hit, tie-in toys for summer blockbusters were already reaching retailers, The Toy Insider’s James Zahn tells us.

Big chains like Target could either store the toys until next year, which can get expensive — or they could try to sell them.

But it’s tough to get kids to buy toys for a film they haven’t seen. And toys for some big releases — like Mulan — have already hit the clearance bin.

‘Minions’ has a despicable problem 

NBCUniversal pushed back the newest film in the Minions franchise a full year, and now they have buckets of yellow toys to unload onto kids.

So they’re getting creative. Maybe you caught the recent Minions reruns on NBC? According to Zahn, those are ads for the toys in all but name.

Zahn says that he’s noticed a new trend on Instagram lately: “The past couple weeks, quite a few influencers seem to have received Minions toy packages.”

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle


How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.