World's first Simpsons store set to open in China as franchise eyes expansion
Fox has announced that The Simpsons is going global with the launch of flagship stores in Beijing and Shanghai.
Opening in March, the space in China's capital will be the first ever bricks-and-mortar Simpsons shop in the world, with the Shanghai store set to open for business in June.
The choice to debut themed stores for the 27-year-old show was based on its "familiarity among Chinese audiences and the success of the Simpsons products", according to China Daliy.
"This year will be an important one for us as we are opening the first Simpsons store along with our Chinese partners," Jeffrey Godsick, president of 20th Century Fox consumer products, told the paper.
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The stores will stock around 200 products, from T-shirts to stationery, and build upon Fox's previous collaborations with fashion brands such as Joyrich. Godstick said that between 25 to 50 per cent of Simpson's merch will be sold exclusively in-store and that the firm expects to open around 100 shops in the future.
China has a tumultuous relationship with one of America's most famous families; the country's Communist Party banned foreign cartoons from peak-time TV in 2008 "to protect the country's homegrown animators."
However, critics of the ban claimed it was an attempt to keep The Simpsons off air following a controversial episode from season sixteen. The storyline saw Homer and his family visit Tiananmen Square and pass a sign which said: 'On this site, in 1989, nothing happened', in reference to the Tiananmen massacre. The episode titled 'Goo Goo Gai Pan' also depicted Lisa Simpson as a Free Tibet activist.
It returned to screens in 2014, when Chinese web service Sohu inked a deal with Fox to stream the show online.