In January, the month before the movie was released, Black Panther merchandise was in 87 percent of stores in retail tracking service NPD’s point-of-sale panel, according to NPD’s Julie Lennett.
“Black Panther” merchandise was already moving off store shelves pre-release faster than items from any other movies in the last year except “Star Wars” and “Transformers,” Lennett said.
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But a closer look at the stores carrying Black Panther merchandise revealed that only 11 toys on average were in stock -- half the number of toys carried on average for Justice League, one-third of Power Rangers, and one-quarter of Spider-Man.
“Not planning for a broader assortment of Black Panther toys might have been a miss in this case,“ Lennett said.
"Black Panther" is on its way to hitting the $1 billion mark at the box office according to predictions of industry experts .
The movie has been breaking records since its initial release on Feb. 15, but fans looking for licensed merchandise have been disappointed with the offerings in stores.
While some shoppers said Black Panther merchandise is in abundance at their local big box stores, others found empty store shelves or were unable to find product at all.
Several industry insiders have suggested that Disney is using extra caution in deciding how to translate the movie into merchandise.
"They have reached out to influencers of color and wanted to get feedback on, 'Hey, where are we going with this? Do you think this idea for having this costume or this makeup line would be appropriate to market to mass audiences?'" said Jamie Broadnax, founder of the website Black Girl Nerds and co-founder of the Universal Fan con, in an interview with Marketplace.
Disney has made some missteps lately, most notably when it pulled a costume based on a character in the film "Moana" after consumer complaintsof cultural appropriation
Lennett of NPD is hopeful that the toy industry will turn things around when it comes to Black Panther merchandise.
"With these initial figures coming in for January and several weeks of February, it looks like Black Panther is going to not only be a success at the box office, but will also be a success story for the toy industry, which so badly needs a feel-good story right now," Lennett said.
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