TORONTO — Audiences may one day see Marilyn Monroe back on the big screen starring in new roles.
It’s a real possibility as technology evolves, says Toronto businessman Jamie Salter, who recently bought the rights to the image of the late 1950s Hollywood icon.
“We’re pretty comfortable that Marilyn Monroe, in the next couple of years, will be in a real feature film and be playing a part,” Salter said.
“I don’t know if it’s a 007 movie or if it’s action or it’s drama or what type of movie it’s going to be, but she’s going to be an actress that the director chooses, no different than Kate Hudson or Meryl Streep.”
Salter’s New York-based brand development and licensing company, Authentic Brands Group, announced two weeks ago it made the Monroe deal in conjunction with NECA, a global media and entertainment company.
Salter wouldn’t disclose a purchase price for Monroe’s name and likeness, but published reports say it was nearly $50 million.
“I can’t tell you the price of the deal but what I can tell you is we’re extremely happy with our purchase and we think it’s one of the better deals we’ve done over the last 20 years,” said the chairman and CEO, who splits his time between Toronto and New York.
Anna Strasberg — who managed Monroe’s estate and is the widow of the late star’s acting coach, Lee Strasberg — is a minority partner in the joint venture.
Strasberg and her son, David, approached Salter’s company last summer about how to rebuild Monroe’s brand into the iconic, glamorous and beautiful personality that she was.
The two sides decided to do with Monroe’s image what Salter’s company has done with the Bob Marley brand — steer it away from the souvenir business.
Instead, they want to bring Monroe’s brand into what Salter called “bigger categories,” including fragrance, personal care, beauty aids, apparel, footwear and handbags.
They also want to create an official Marilyn Monroe “hand tag” that they can put on all of their packaging and products.
Salter said they’ve already spoken with apparel companies in North America and Asia.
He predicts the first Monroe products to come out of the new deal will be personal care items.
“The souvenir side of the business is not our direction,” said Salter, who was born and raised in Toronto.
“I mean, a Hallmark card, I’m perfectly fine with. But a shot glass? I don’t think that’s good for her image.”
Salter said his company is also talking with the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles to represent them as they try to incorporate Monroe’s likeness into digital media.
He wouldn’t divulge names but confirmed that he’s “had conversations with some pretty big movie people in the last couple of months and there’s definitely an interest.”
“We really felt strongly that the digital game is going to change these dead celebrities,” said Salter.
“Digital media is incredible. There was an article that was just written (in which) George Lucas said that he’s going to do a movie bringing back dead celebrities because he can make them as real as they were when they were alive.”
Monroe was found dead of an overdose in her Los Angeles home in 1962 at age 36.