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Artisan Reveals Release Slate at Annual Las Vegas Event

31 Jul, 2001 By: Stephanie Prange

Billing the studio as “The Independent Alternative,” Artisan Home Entertainment president, sales and marketing, Jeff Fink told retailers at the studio’s annual Las Vegas event today that diversity of product, DVD and a strong theatrical slate would make Artisan “the independent leader in the home entertainment marketplace this year.”

The home entertainment division made $200 million in revenue in 2000 and was “on track to duplicate that” this year, he said.

DVD, he said, already accounts for one-third of revenue. And in late 2001 through 2002 Artisan will release special edition versions of such catalog hits as Basic Instinct and Total Recall, both due Sept. 18 in uniquely designed packaging; the Rambo trilogy, coming in March 2002 in a 20th anniversary edition; and the indie classic, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, coming in July 2002 in a 10th anniversary edition new director’s cut.

Also coming on special edition DVD Dec. 4 (prebook Nov. 7) is the first season of David Lynch’s seminal TV series “Twin Peaks” with a director’s commentary and packaging that reflects the series’ dark underbelly theme. A smiling picture of Laura Palmer on the cover folds out to reveal a picture of her dead face covered in plastic.

Artisan will also bow a special edition of Down From the Mountain, about the music featured in the Coen brothers acclaimed film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Family Home Entertainment franchises like “Clifford,” are bolstering Artisan’s sellthrough slate. FHE president and Artisan executive v.p. Glenn Ross said “Clifford” has sold more than 1 million units and is on track to sell 1.5 million units by year-end. The series airs on PBS. Ross also noted that FHE’s “Baby Einstein” series of baby tapes is in 13,000 stores and that it is on track to sell 2 million units by year-end.

Then there’s Barbie. Artisan and partner Mattel are throwing considerable marketing muscle behind her first movie, the direct-to-video Barbie in the Nutcracker, created with computer-generated imaging demonstrated in an impressive clip that illustrated the beauty and detail of the animation. In addition to tie-ins with McDonald’s and rebate tie-ins with the Nutcracker Barbie, among other marketing initiatives, Artisan will hold a star-studded Hollywood premiere for the title. Barbie in the Nutcracker debuts Oct. 2 on VHS and Oct. 23 on DVD at $19.98 each.

Other upcoming sellthrough titles include the Discovery Channel’s When Dinosaurs Roamed America, timed to coincide with publicity for Jurassic Park III and coming out on VHS and DVD in August; and such Hallmark releases as Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, airing on CBS, and Snow White, starring Miranda Richardson and airing on ABC.

In the fitness market, where Artisan has come out of nowhere to dominate VideoScan market share on the fame of Denise Austin, the studio is bowing a new series, “Yoga Fusion,” featuring newcomers Kim Haegle and Teigh McDonough. The series will launch with a 60-second infomercial to build awareness.

On the rental side, Artisan, true to its diverse theme, is presenting both theatrical and DTV titles.

The theatrical comedy Made, starring Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn of Swingers fame, is billed as a cross between “The Sopranos” and Swingers. The film, screened during the event, has already earned $1.3 million in theaters and will hit video Nov. 13 (prebook Oct. 16). The special edition DVD, with commentary from Favreau and Vaughn, will retail at $24.98. Other theatrical titles due on video in the fourth quarter include the erotic Center of the World, which earned $1.1 million theatrically and is out in December; and the acclaimed documentary Startup.com, which $1.19 million at the box office and comes out on video in September.

With a $15 million production budget, Artisan’s October release Replicant, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, is perhaps one of the biggest budget DTV rental titles this year. The studio also plans to release a DTV Steven Seagal actioner Ticker in November.

Of Artisan’s commitment to DTV when many studios seem to be pulling back from the category, Fink said, “There’s still a market out there for higher quality direct-to-video titles with star power.You have to spend $20, $30 million in [promotion and advertising] just to get a nationwide release theatrically. It’s more profitable on video.”

Artisan’s upcoming theatrical slate includes Soul Survivors, starring Wes Bentley (American Beauty), Eliza Dishku and Casey Affleck; Novocaine, with Steve Martin, Helena Bonham Carter and Laura Dern; Good Advice, starring Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards; and Van Wilder: Party Liaison, a comedy in the vein of American Pie.

Video Update chairman of the board John Jump, attending the Artisan event, praised the studio for its strong lineup and “street” knowledge. “They’ve got good stuff coming,” he said. “They’re working hard.”

For exclusive photos from the Artisan event, click here. ARTISANEVENT

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