Locked In

When we last covered the escape room phenomenon, in June of 2017, the industry was well established, but licensing was still relatively new to the sector. Things have changed since then, with a wide variety of entertainment/character licensing now in the mix and new examples still joining the fray on a regular basis.

Some of the examples that have come to light in 2019 and 2020:

  • Asmodee and Fantasy Flight Games licensed Hourglass Escapes of Seattle to produce an Arkham Horror Files escape room, based on the board and card game franchise set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. The deal was announced in February of this year. Hourglass is also the licensee for an escape room connected to Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn; it opened in February 2019.
  • Toho and Legendary paired with 60Out for escape rooms in Los Angeles associated with the upcoming film Godzilla vs. Kong. The announcement was made in February 2020. Among 60Out’s other offerings is a room tied to Sony Pictures Consumer Products’ Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
  • Sony also paired with The Riddle Within for an escape room in the U.K. tied to the TV series Breaking Bad. Announced in January, the “Escaping Bad” experience is set to open in June 2020.
  • Warner Bros. announced in November 2019 that it had teamed with Escapology for a Scooby Doo escape room in Orlando. It also offers the same experience in other U.S. cities.
  • Lego opened its first escape room, a free, child-friendly (for ages 6-12), two-day pop-up at a mall in Roseville, Minnesota, in November of last year. It moved to Los Angeles for its second stop.
  • Endemol Shine Group paired with Escape Live for two themed escape rooms in Birmingham, U.K., dubbed “The Raid” and “Double Cross,” based on the TV series Peaky Blinders, which is set in that city. The experiences opened in August 2019.
  • Netflix’s Stranger Things has been featured in an Escape Woods escape room at Sleepy Hollow Farm outside Atlanta since August 2019. The game takes place in Hopper’s Cabin, a location familiar from the show.
  • Simon & Schuster and Mystery Escape Room announced a Nancy Drew experience in Salt Lake City in October 2019. The same location offers a room tied to Downton Abbey, which opened in July 2019, and one for The Sword of Zorro, which debuted in April of the same year.
  • Creative Licensing signed BoydEscapes for a Bill & Ted escape room, in a deal announced in July 2019, timed to the original film’s 30th anniversary. The Arizona-based experience joined another partnership between Creative and Boyd, for Terminator 2.
  • The BBC selected Escape Hunt to develop a Doctor Who escape room that hit towns across the U.K. starting in January 2019.

Other licensed escape rooms have involved the movie Saw, the French TV series Oggy and the Cockroaches, and, in Japan, the classic Godzilla franchise, among others. While not exhaustive, the list provided here gives a sense of how important this experiential segment has become for licensors of TV shows, books, toys, and games.

An addendum to our last post, published Monday, March 9, about decades-long-but-still-growing licensing programs tied to botanical gardens: The day after publication, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, one of the programs mentioned in the piece, announced two new licensees, Flame Tree Publishing for a calendar featuring imagery by Victorian artist Charlotte Cowan and Caithness Glass for collectible art glass.

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