Long gone are the days when horror movies — and the merchandise they inspire — were relegated to the month of October. These days, films filled with spooks, screams, and supernatural happenings are popular year-round, and the team at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Studios is going all-in on the genre, and on making merch for the dedicated horror fanbase.
Robert Marick, executive vice president of global consumer products and experiences at MGM, says that the studio breaks down its expansive content collection into categories including anniversaries, decades, and genres. And when it comes to the horror genre, in particular, the studio has a lot to offer. Its catalog includes hit horror classics like Teen Wolf, Carrie, and The Silence of the Lambs; current horror titles such as the Candyman reboot (which hits theaters on Aug. 27) and the new show Clarice; and a collection of about 26 vintage horror titles such as Planet of the Vampires and Ghoulies that may be lesser-known but feature epic throwback visual effects and have posters that would look right at home on a T-shirt.
“So if people really want the gory stuff, we have it. If you want to see supernatural, we have it. If you want to see funny horror, we definitely have that as well,” says Ricardo Cruz, vice president of consumer products at MGM and a massive horror fan himself.
According to Cruz, the studio is undergoing a rebranding of sorts this year, moving to house all of its horror content under the moniker “Midnight Movies” and really expanding its merchandise offerings for the genre (yes, including T-shirts featuring those vintage posters).
In the past few years, Cruz says that MGM has seen major success with some of its more niche horror titles, especially Killer Klowns From Outer Space. “What’s really great is that even though there’s no anniversary, there’s no new movie for Killer Klowns, people just love this film,” he says. “It’s a cult classic. People definitely rediscovered it, and so have the streaming services.” In recent years, MGM has put on successful Killer Klowns activations at fan conventions and at Universal Halloween Horror Nights. Last year, the Klowns even got the Funko Pop! Treatment.
Marick and Cruz are hoping that some of MGM’s other vintage titles will find the same resonance with fans because, as Marick explains, vintage and retro content is very timely, which is why the vintage poster artwork is one major branch of the studio’s merchandising plans. “All of a sudden, if you start paneling many of these (posters) together, it’s a very cool thing,” he says. “As we look at our portfolio, we want to not just rest on the laurels of the key art, but really look at what fans are looking for and what’s on-trend.”
Continuing that desire to stay on-trend, MGM is also looking to blend the chibi art trend with its horror portfolio, imagining items like the ones pictured in the concept photos above. It may seem contradictory to see an adorable Hannibal Lecter, complete with tiny lambs as the whites of his eyes, but Cruz says this is really resonating with fans. “I think horror fans love cute stuff, too,” he explains. “ It’s fun! And I think at the end of the day, fans can imagine killer clowns being cute.” Marick also notes that many horror fans often love and prefer the villains of these movies, which is why these products put characters like Hannibal Lecter front and center.
And if you’re an avid horror fan, know that MGM is paying attention: Cruz says he is constantly spending time on blogs, listening to podcasts, and scouring social media to see what fans are saying about these properties and the genre to help inform their consumer product priorities and decisions.
There is already an assortment of merch available inspired by MGMs’s horror titles, including the items pictured at the top of this piece (snag a Hannibal Lecter bobblehead, a Killer Klowns T-shirt, Army of Darkness ReAction figures from Super7, and a Handmade By Robots Hannibal Lecter figure). However, his is just the beginning for these horror offerings, as MGM continues to expand its portfolio of partners. Funko, for example, recently announced a variety of Funko Pop! collectibles inspired by MGM titles including Carrie, which debuted as part of this year’s Funkoween celebration. Marick says the brand can also confirm partnerships with companies like Goody Two Sleeves, Nivo Toys, and Trick-or-Treat Studios.
Stay tuned for additional updates on must-have Midnight Movies merchandise throughout the year!