Despite a lukewarm (or “dismal” as the LA Times put it) box office reception which is blamed with helping Disney get cold feet over The Lone Ranger *, COWBOYS & ALIENS will live on via licensing, if Platinum Studios has anything to say about it. A new press release has announced a deal with KKM Global Brand Strategies which will license all aspects of the property.

Oh, except the movie.

Luckily, “The potential for COWBOYS & ALIENS extends well beyond the feature film,” says KKM CEO Ken Markman, who hopes to target “core fans aged 18-24, followed by trend-conscious teens and, ultimately, children 8-11” with branding based on the graphic novel.

Markman has already lined up several partners for mobile gaming apps, eBooks, and a product known as “light-up confections.”

To be honest, we like that Cowboy vs spaceship key art better than the Daniel Craig with his wrist thingie — the comic art says “Fight!” — the movei art says “morose James Bond with glowing wrist.”

According to recent SEC filings, Platinum made $500,000 from licensing for the dreadful DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT, so it’s likely that an A-lister like COWBOYS & ALIENS could be way more lucrative.

Platinum has a few more titles in the pipeline, Variety wrote last week:

“In addition to “Cowboys & Aliens,” Platinum Studios is developing “Unique” at Walt Disney Pictures with “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman, “Vice” with producer Andrew Lazar and Top Cow Productions, Inc., a feature film project at Sony Pictures Animation, and “Blood Nation” with producer Alexandra Milchan. Platinum Studios is also developing “MetaDocs” for TV with Syfy, FremantleMedia and Landscape Entertainment.”

Platinum stock has been hovering somewhere between 1-2¢ since hitting a 7¢ high just before the movie opened.

Complete PR:

Platinum Studios has retained KKM Global Brand Strategies as its brand strategist and licensing agent for Cowboys & Aliens. The graphic novel, created by Platinum Studios CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, is the inspiration for the feature film released July 29 by DreamsWorks and Universal Pictures starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, which was the top grossing film on its first weekend. KKM and its CEO Ken Markman will develop and implement a licensing program based on all aspects of the property, excluding the film. Markman has extensive experience, having worked with Mattel, The Simpsons, and Glee, and is currently working with Universal and Warner Brothers.
“I have known Ken for a number of years and am incredibly impressed with his high rate of success and attention to detail,” says Rosenberg. “His creative branding strategy is ideal for a property such as Cowboys & Aliens and a company like Platinum Studios.”

“The potential for Cowboys & Aliens extends well beyond the feature film,” comments Markman, who has been working with Platinum Studios as a consultant on the property for eight years. “The title is high-concept in and of itself and the mash-up of genres is very appropriate given today’s parallel trends of authentic nostalgia and technological innovation. The property reflects so many archetypal stories that resonate culturally, both in the U.S. and abroad. We are excited for the opportunity to create a truly multigenerational property across many platforms and territories.”

The original Cowboys & Aliens graphic novel was published in 2006 and debuted as the number-one graphic novel in the U.S. It Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, has published a reprint edition of the original graphic novel in hardcover and paperback, both of which have hit The New York Times graphic novel bestseller lists. Platinum Studios’ own online digital version of Cowboys & Aliens has attracted more than three million views.

Deals already are in place with FreePlay Labs for iPod touch, iPad and iPhone gaming apps; Gameloft for mobile games, primarily for international markets; Orbit Media Group for the an interactive e-book “Cowboys & Aliens: The Kids,” with a portion of proceeds going to the Starlight Foundation; Barnes & Noble and Graphicly for an e-book for the Nook e-reader; and Quantum Media for light-up confections.

KKM’s licensing strategy will focus initially on core fans aged 18-24, followed by trend-conscious teens and, ultimately, children 8-11. Key categories will include apparel and accessories, consumer electronics, mobile devices, music peripherals such as earbuds and audio-enthusiast sound systems, musical instruments, home decor, sporting goods including skateboards, bikes and extreme sports equipment, backpacks, sport carriers for cars, camp gear, and food such as travel mix and health bars.

* PS: I firmly believe that it wasn’t just the western trial going cold that gave Disney pause. As I predicted after watching PotC III, I don’t think Gore Verbinski will make a movie for a long, long time, and no the animated Rango doesn’t count.


  1. As far as comic book publishers go, Platinum Studios is about as shady, vacuous, and unprincipled as they come (surpassed, perhaps, only by Bluewater). They are the very definition of “perceived value” vs. real substance. They way they reimbursed retailers on large orders of the Cowboys vs. Aliens book in order to fabricate a “#1 best seller” spot to then use to shop the movie around was just plain slimy. And as someone who participated in their inaugural “Comic Book Challenge,” I can attest to the fact that the event had everything to do with publicity and raising their Hollywood profile, and zilch to do with actually wanting to publish a comic book.

    The comic book industry, I feel, is better off without their brand of hucksterism. Hollywood can keep them.

  2. Googling Ken Markman turns up this article on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-markman/the-advent-of-brand-cultu_b_664317.html) which I think is hilarious stupid ad-nonsense. Summary: “They are Millennials. Their values, attitudes and demographic characteristics are different than all previous generations. Successful products offerings enable Millennials to participate in their own experiences. It is tribal; technology is the acoustic rhythm to their narrative. Millennials are setting the new social agenda, in a context called BrandCultureTM. We are just beginning to witness the nuances and shifts of their consumer behavior. The real ah-ha will arrive when we unlock the coding of this generation and the hardwiring of their brains. Okay. I get it. We know Social Media is important. But, do you really know why? The importance of realism amid such heightened realities in worlds of fantasy make characters, specifically heroes and their powers, when stripped away, real to an audience that wants to believe they really exist. This transformation is a blurring of “reality’s” fantasy.”

  3. I thought the film was entertaining, but I wish Bruce Boxleitner’s “Frontier Earth” was adapted first. There was definitely more character and plot developments.