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Studios Revisit Using DVD as a Promotional Tool

18 Mar, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sony Pictures and Best Buy just bowed a co-promotion in which the Minneapolis-based mass merchant will distribute for free 500,000 DVD previews featuring footage, behind-the-scenes material and interviews with the cast and crew of the April 2 theatrical release of Hellboy.

Yesterday, when I was at my gym, I noticed a stack of promotional DVDs for ABC's new romantic comedy “Celeste in the City.” Whether it was guerrilla marketing or some crosspromotion between the gym and ABC wasn't clear, and after watching the disc and inquiring at the front desk, I wasn't any wiser.

Besides the fact that Best Buy reportedly received no financial compensation for promoting Sony films months before they will reach its retail shelves, the concept of promoting theatrical releases by DVD first surfaced during the dotcom heyday by a company called Hollywood Previews.

A quick call told me that the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, which had a business model that paid theater owners to distribute promotional DVDs of future theatrical releases, was still in business, only now it had diversified its distribution channels to include newspaper polybags and retail.

A spokesperson said Hollywood Previews was not associated with the Sony/Best Buy deal, although similar retail initiatives would be forthcoming.

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