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"Twilight" Goes on Tour

Twilight
Twilight

"Twilight" is a true multi-media phenomenon. The best-selling book series spawned a low-budget runaway hit movie, grossing nearly $400 million worldwide. The sequel is set for an October release with more films in the franchise in the works. But why make obsessed teen girls wait and risk the brand losing steam? The studio, privately held Summit Entertainment, is wisely taking a cue from the crowds at last month's ComiCon Convention and is launching its own traveling convention. This weekend Twilight's traveling convention will launch in Parsippany N.J., before touring to a dozen cities around the country.

What better way to profit from obsessed teens and build buzz ahead of the release of the sequel than take "Twilight's" stars on tour, charging hundreds of dollars for a weekend-full of events. The lineup looks an awful lot like Comic-Con for tween vampire fans. It's this generation's version of a Star Trek Convention. Expect panel discussions, auctions, autograph lines, and of course, special merchandise. There will be a "vampire ball" Saturday night, which I can only assume is a costume party, and what's described as a "vampire court presentation." More than 2,000 teens are expected to turn out to Parsippany's Hilton Hotel, which, along with the convention, is sold out. A company called "Creation Entertainment," which also organizes Star Trek and Stargate conventions is organizing the festivities.

Beyond the boost to the Parsippany Hilton, from investing perspective, there aren't many obvious plays on this phenomenon. There's Summit Entertainment and a private toy licenser, NECA. The publisher of the Twilight books is "Little Brown" which is owned by a public French company, Lagadere. Hot Topic is a big retailer that's tapped into the Twilight phenomenon, with some exclusive Twilight-themed merchandise.

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But the real question is how other studios will follow suit. With DVD sales in decline studios are looking for new revenue streams, will this kind of traveling convention seriously bolster merchandise sales and create a new revenue stream of its own? Could studios like Warner Brothers look to tap into phenomena like "Harry Potter" with conventions to keep the excitement about the film alive in the stretch between installments? How about the fanboys for films like "Transformers" . With an "Iron Man" sequel coming up, does Marvel have the kind of following to hold smaller ComicCon type events over the rest of the year. These days studios rely more and more on franchise to provide predictable, ongoing revenue, it'll be interesting to see how they use these kinds of in-person events to build and sustain buzz.

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