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This article is about the commercial release of a product or work related to another work. For the term used with respect to collegiate football in the United States, see Automatic bids to college bowl games. For the road term, see On ramp.

A tie-in is an authorized product based on a media property a company is releasing, such as a movie or video/DVD, video game, television program/television series, board game, web site, role-playing game or literary property. Tie-ins are a form of cross-promotion used primarily to generate additional income from that property and promote its visibility.

Kinds of tie-in products[edit]

This pannier bag is a tie-in product from the TV series South Park.

Common tie-in products include:

  • a movie tie-innovelizations of movies, television shows, or video games
  • original novels or story-collections featuring original stories inspired by the original property
  • re-branding of an existing book with artwork or photographs from a movie, television show, or other media release (such as movies made on and re-branding the books of The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia)
  • making-of books or television specials
  • a movie tie-in video game
  • a soundtrack, either featuring the film score, songs featured in the film, or occasionally songs "inspired by the film" or image songs based on the characters.
  • collectible merchandise, such as action figure toys or board games
  • fast food promotions based on movies, toys or games
  • merchandise of all types exploiting logos, characters, images, catch-phrases from the property. Such merchandise often has absolutely no connection to the property other than the use of logos or other trademarks to enhance sales (examples being apparel, particularly caps and T-shirts)
  • Advertising (particularly television advertisements) which feature the involvement of, and music of a musician.

Movie tie-in[edit]

A movie tie-in book is a book, frequently a paperback but occasionally a trade paperback or a hardcover, that has a direct relationship to a specific film. Usually, the cover of the book will bear photography of the film's stars, and slogans indicating that it is directly related to a specific film.

Tie-ins are often newly published editions of a book upon which a film was based that is published around the time of the release of the film, and even sometimes re-titled so that the book's title now matches the film's title. As an example, when Roderick Thorp's 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever was adapted into the 1988 film Die Hard, the novel was republished as a paperback tie-in under the Die Hard title with the film's poster on the cover. However, when Walter Wager's 1987 novel 58 Minutes was adapted into the 1990 film Die Hard 2, the novel was republished as a paperback tie-in that kept the original 58 Minutes title but prominently advertised on the cover the fact that the novel was the basis for Die Hard 2.

Movie tie-in books may also be novelizations of original screenplays. Novelizations of all six Star Wars films have been published, based on each film's original screenplay. Novelizations are generally published several weeks before a film's release, almost always feature the film's poster as cover art, and are usually never republished, with rare exceptions.

If a film is based on a story shorter than a novel — such as a short story, novelette, or novella — a tie-in book may be published featuring the adapted story as well as other stories from the same author. For example, when Stephen King's novella Apt Pupil was adapted to film, the book originally featuring the story — Different Seasons — was republished as Apt Pupil: A Novella in Different Seasons. Similarly, tie-in books were published to promote the films Minority Report and Paycheck, featuring the original "Minority Report" and "Paycheck" short stories, both written by Philip K. Dick. Other times, however, a novelization of the film based on the story may be published, such as Total Recall. A novelization written by Piers Anthony was published instead of a tie-in book containing the story that the film was based on, Dick's "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale".

In extremely rare cases, a movie tie-in book may also be a "re-telling" or abridgement of an original novel.[citation needed]

Movie tie-in books can be the beginning of a series of books that relate to a film or a series of films, such as Star Wars, though the content of the novels may have nothing to do with any existing film. An example would be the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, which is part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe; the novel takes place after the film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, of which a novelization was also published. These tie-in books may or may not be considered canon.

Video games[edit]

Some video games are tie-in licences for films, television shows or books.

Video game movie tie-ins are expensive for a game developer to license, and the game designers have to work within constraints imposed by the film studio, under pressure to finish the game in time for the film's release.[1] The aim for the publishers is to increase hype and revenue as the two industries effectively market one another's releases.[2]

Movie license video games have a reputation for being poor quality.[3] For example, Amiga Power awarding Psygnosis's three movie licenses (Dracula, Cliffhanger and Last Action Hero, all reviewed in June 1994) 36% in total; that magazine being cynical towards licensed games in general, with The Blues Brothers being one of few exceptions. One of the first movie tie-in games, Atari's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) was deemed so bad, it was cited as one cause of the video game industry crash.[4] Such poor quality is often due to game developers forced to rush the product in order to meet the movie's release date,[4] or due to issues with adapting the original work's plot into an interactive form, such as in the case of the games based on the last two films of the Harry Potter film series, where one reviewer criticised some of the game's missions and side-quests as being unrelated to the film's storyline.[5]

Video tie-in licences for novels tend to be adventure games. The Hobbit (1982) and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are text adventures, whilst I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995) is a point-and-click adventure and Neuromancer (1988) is a graphic adventure. Action games based on novels are less common (William Shatner's TekWar (1995), a first-person shooter). Novel tie-ins were published less frequently after the 1990s, with developers only taking risks with stories that had already been licenced for movies.[6]

Revenue and structure[edit]

Tie-ins are considered an important part of the revenue-stream for any major media release, and planning, and licensing for such works often begins at the very earliest stages of creating such a property. Tie-ins provide both an important way of generating additional income from a property, and a way of satisfying the desires of fans who enthusiastically support a popular media property.

The lineage of tie-in works can be quite convoluted. For example, a novelization might be done of a video game, which was based on a television show, based on a movie, based on a comic book which was the original media property. In several cases, a novelization has been released based on a movie which was in turn adapted from an original novel. In such cases, it is not uncommon to see the novelization and a movie release of the original novel side-by-side on the same shelf.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Review: Movie Tie-In Games Mostly Disappointing". foxnews.com. 2007-06-01. 
  2. ^ "Hollywood and video game industry profit from movie tie-ins". Canada.com. 
  3. ^ Stuart Campbell (May 1995). "Ready For Your Close-Up". Amiga Power. 
  4. ^ a b Musgrove, Mike (10 July 2006). "Movie and Game Studios Getting the Total Picture". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  5. ^ "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Video Game Review - PlayStation 3 Review at IGN". IGN. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Rich Knight (2007-10-08). "Why Are Books Never Made Into Games?". Blend Games. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 

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