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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween Is Entertainment

        Halloween is a celebration.  The day is one that is filled with fun and festivity.  We've looked at the nuts and bolts of Halloween-- the consumer goods that provide the tools of the tricksters and treat-seekers-- the costumes, candy, and all the fun things that adorn the event.  We've seen how billions of dollars are cycled through the economy in order to supply this special day.  Why?--  Because people like to have a good time. Halloween is entertaining, which directly connects it to one of America's biggest revenue generators: the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY.
        Throughout history humans have set aside special times for celebration.  People today have more expendable time available and some celebrations of old have become grander and more lavish. The Entertainment Industry has recognized this and uses Halloween to its advantage. The build-up to the day is big and Halloween inspired events occur over the two months that precede the big day and promotions for the events sometimes even longer. All segments of the Entertainment Industry are stakeholders in Halloween in one way or another.
          During the month of October there are several thousand haunted attractions that open throughout the United States. These include haunted houses, hayrides, cornmazes, and many other imaginative attractions. Some might be small affairs in someone's backyard, while others may be operated as a fundraiser or part of an organizational function, and still others are highly professional big money operations. Some are open only for a day or two while some stay open throughout the month. All of these have spent money putting together their creations.  And a great many of these hire workers to man the attractions.  As reported by Reuters the Haunted House Association projects that these haunted attractions will generate one billion dollars in revenue and provide tens of thousands of temporary jobs in 2009.  Think about your own community: How many attractions open up each year? Then multiply that by all of the communities in the U.S.  Many of these attractions have been operating for several years.
           Back in 1973 Knott's Berry Farm  (a major theme-park attraction in Buena Park, CA) had a one night Halloween event that became such a hit that it was repeated annually and expanded to last the entire  month or October.  Now the park transforms itself each October into "Knott's Scary Farm", staying open throughout the entire month charging attendees about $40 average admission. The park spends a considerable sum to decorate in the Halloween theme and hires over 1000 seasonal workers to entertain guests.  Knott's was eventually bought by Cedar Fair, the giant amusement conglomeration that owns many parks throughout the United States and Canada.  Now nearly all of the other Cedar Fair attractions are dressed up for Halloween like Knott's with multi-millions of dollars generated during a time of year when park attendance used to tradionally decline.  Now that's taking advantage of the season!
          Not to be outdone, other theme parks have followed suit.  Now it's accepted that theme parks need to dress up for the Halloween season in order to compete and shoot for some big bucks.  In Hollywood, Universal Studios, which has been doing Halloween events for several years, is specifically publicizing that they are going to outdo Knott's and they are going to use all of their movie studio big guns to do it.  But probably no need to worry about the competition because many of the Halloween fans can't get enough and attend more than one venue.  Even Disneyland has been jumping onboard the Halloween haywagon and this year has been airing slick television ads to promote what they are doing.  When Disney's onboard you know there must be a good reason which is all about money.
          The movie industry has long recognized the value of tying in their horror releases to the Halloween season. Each year scary movies are slated for release in October.  This year we are going to see the release of Michael Jackson's "This Is It".  Don't know how scary that is or if the promoters of the movie were thinking about Halloween, but I can guarantee you that The King of Pop will be well represented by the dress-up crowd and it probably won't hurt to be releasing that movie then. The movie industry has some special release seasons that they look forward to:  the summer blockbusters, Christmas holiday season, the end of the year Oscar contenders, and the Halloween season for fright films.
           Another way the film industry capitalizes on Halloween is via product licensing, which also is related to the trade show industry.  In order to present licensing opportunities to potentional licensees, large shows are organized. How big is this?  The Licensing International Expo, which will be held in Las Vegas in 2010, will have 500 exhibitors representing 7,000 products with thousands of attendees from 82 countries expected.  Major studios will be among those with licensing opportunites  to market in order to derive more income from the movies they produce.  Granted, the Halloween market is only one part of this vast licensing industry, but it is an important part.  How many Spidermen and Batmen do you think will be knocking on your door Halloween night?  If they are legal products, the companies that made them had to obtain a license. Costume licensing can go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the payoff for a hot licensed product can be substantial.  Disney, a major license granter for its many properties, reports that their "Princess" line of products now does  a four billion dollar business at the retail level worldwide.  Movie, television, and comic book characters are all popular Halloween costumes and to be the real thing a license is required.
         Actually, this article could go on and on in regard to Halloween and the Entertainment Industry-- we haven't even looked at bars, parades, parties of all kinds, community and school activities, and the other venues that provide Halloween entertainment.  Also, there are many entertainers who make some decent money attaching themselves to Halloween, for example special Halloween concerts.  As I said once before an entire book could be written on the subject of the huge Halloween Economy and I'm not writing a book.
But just start looking around and thinking about some of this.  Today I stopped in the supermarket and noticed how much they had related to Halloween beyond the candy---like Halloween Captain Crunch. Pumpkins--- the farmers that grow those must be very happy about Halloween. Paper product industry offers much tableware and decoration with Halloween themes.  But I will let it stop here for my part.  Now I'd love to hear what any of the readers have to say.  Have I missed something that you think is important? Do you have a contrary opinion?  Toss it out and let us hear it!

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