You bought the T-shirt, now comes a whole outfit

Money/ entertainment sells; Casper's shape will be moulded into Heinz pasta, bubble bath, M&S cakes and ice-creams. The film's box office takings will be secondary.

IT USED to be just T-shirts. Now it is a whole wardrobe. Merchandising, exploiting the images of a popular record, band, book or film on throwaway clothing, is suddenly becoming mainstream fashion.

When Judge Dredd, the movie of the comic-strip futuristic lawman, reaches the cinemas this month, you may feel that the film itself is merely incidental: what will be seen on every street corner is the Judge Dredd Look.

Dredd fans may not be striding down the street in chrome boots and full superhero costume with armour (although Jean-Paul Gaultier has had a stab at translating comic-book heroes to high fashion this summer), but they will be wearing tiny T-shirts with "Law Breaker" and "Creep" logos printed in reflective ink, or short A-line dresses aimed at the young and streetwise.

Fiona Cartledge, who runs Sign of the Times, a mecca for clubwear buyers in London's Covent Garden, is excited at the idea of selling the right sort of film merchandise.

"Films are using exactly the themes - fantasy and sci-fi - that are running in fashion right now," she says. "The two worlds have collided."

Tank Girl has already shown the way forward. The comic-strip that became a movie has now become a British fashion label: MGM licensed the UK clothing range to Future Shooter, a small London-based company, last November, and the clothes went into the shops six months before the UK release of the film.

It is estimated that it will earn the company pounds 1m in sales this year, of which MGM will take 10 per cent.

Despite the film's poor takings at the box office, the range is selling fast. Tank Girl has become a brand name. She even has her own range of boots on sale at Shellys.

Of course, movie merchandising in the mid-Nineties means more than just clothing. For the UK launch of Judge Dredd, 27 companies have been licensed to produce anything from plastic kites and milk-chocolate sticks to pyjamas and acrylic tumblers. The barrage of Dredd paraphernalia will be sold everywhere, from local supermarkets to Marks & Spencer.

Tee White works as a freelance consultant for the Dredd range. She specialises in the new concept of making film licensing fashionable.

"It used to be so much easier when a film came out and a simple screenprinted T-shirt was sold to promote it,' she says. "The fashion area is new territory. A T-shirt is not enough for consumers any more."

Ms White is also working on another superhero movie, Batman Forever, due out on 14 July. The Warner Store in Regent Street is already crammed with bat ears, wings and cloaks, but a clothing range is still in the planning stages. Top Shop will be selling a range of fashion-credible Batman T-shirts to test the waters.

Batman Forever is expected to earn at least as much as the summer's other blockbuster, Pocahontas, which has made $400m so far.

It is estimated on Wall Street that Pocahontas will make $900m globally - and more than half of that amount will be from licensing deals.

But the film that promises to beat the $2.5bn made from merchandise by Jurassic Park is another Steven Spielberg extravaganza for all the family, this time about a friendly ghost, Casper.

It is not a film that will lend itself to clubwear, but the movie, starring the 14-year-old Christina Ricci, opens the same day as Judge Dredd and boasts the mother of all licensing deals with more than 50 products planned, right down to next year's Easter eggs.

Casper's shape will be moulded into Heinz pasta in tomato sauce, bubble bath, M&S cakes, and ice-creams. The film's box office takings ($71m in the first four weeks in the US) will become secondary. It seems that every child will own (or have eaten) a piece of Casper by the end of the year.

"The value of the business is frightening," says Francesca Ash, publisher of Licensing Today Worldwide. "Before the late Eighties, a film would come out and the T-shirts would be sold almost as an afterthought to make some extra revenue.''

Now, film budgets are so huge that merchandise, which can double the revenue of a film, is taken into account from the start.

The licensing industry worldwide is worth an estimated $111bn. The UK alone generates $5bn of that, 40 per cent of which is from the entertainment section.

But where does that leave the consumer? There are only so many characters, brand names and logos a person can take. In a month when cinema attendance figures are at their lowest for almost 10 years, movie-merchandise mania will hit fever pitch.

The under-25's clubwear market is a thriving one, and extra-small T-shirts will continue to sell as extra-large ones sold before them.

But if Judge Dredd, Batman Forever and Casper fail to attract the audiences they are hoping for, the merchandise machines could be left with a whole lot of unwanted junk on their hands: bat-shaped mugs, logo beach towels, and Casper ghost pens that glow in the dark.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot