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‘Land Before Time’ Series Stampedes Into a New Age

3 Aug, 2001 By: Jessica Wolf

Twelve years after a group of young dinosaurs joined to find a new home in 1988’s The Land Before Time, the franchise is still going strong. The Land Before Time has spawned seven direct-to-video spinoffs, and with the newest release, The Big Freeze, which streets Dec. 4 (prebook Nov.6; DVD Oct. 30), the whole line is getting a packaging facelift.

Universal Studios Home Video is dropping the numerical part of the series name and redesigning the box art so the subtitle is moreprominent.

“A lot of people felt that the stories were a continuation of eachother,” says Ken Graffeo, Universal’s senior v.p. of home video. “But you don’t need to own the previous one to buy this one.” The stand-alone nature of each installment will open the franchise up to an even broader consumer base, he says.

The Big Freeze marks the third Land Before Time release to come out day and date on DVD and it includes special interactive elements like a DVD-ROM game, a downloadable screensaver and interactive sing-a-longsongs and read-along materials.

Beefing up the interactive quality of kid DVDs is something the company will continue to work on as DVD penetration spreads, says Louis Feola, president, Universal Pictures franchise development.

The Big Freeze also comes with the opportunity to buy a “Land Before Time Prehistoric Playhouse.” With a video proof-of-purchase, customers can buy the cardboard playhouse for $9.95 plus shipping and handling — the first such offer for the series, which opens the door for kids to buy and play with Land Before Time licensed toy products, Feola says.

Land Before Time has proven to be an enduring series for Universal, andepisodes nine and 10 are already in the works. The first DTV followup came out four years after the original and still was a hit in the kidvid market, Feola says. Last year’s installment, The Land Before Time: TheStone of Cold Fire streeted in November and is still sitting on VideoScan’s top 10 kidvids for the year.

Land Before Time was the first animated feature-length film greenlit as an animated feature length direct-to-video,” Feola says. The series very nearly beat Disney to the DTV sequel punch, he says, as Aladdin and the King of Thieves was originally intended to be a made-for-television movie, until its video release.

Feola says the longevity of the series owes to “really endearing characters.

“We’ve managed to put them in really compelling stories and the marketing has been very consistent over the last 12 years,” he says.

Universal is cross-trailering and promoting the newest Land Before Time on the latest installment of its other kid serial, Beethoven’s 4th(street Dec. 4, prebook Nov. 6 VHS, $19.98; Oct. 30 DVD, $24.98). Customers will get $3 off when they purchase both videos.

Beethoven’s 4th is back to a sellthrough price. The studio experimentedwith a rental price for the previous installment, Beethoven’s 3rd, theonly title in the live action series to not come out at sellthrough. The VHS is priced at $19.98, DVD $24.98.

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