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Artisan Touts <i>Reservoir Dogs,</i> Barbie Release

16 Jul, 2002 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Artisan Home Entertainment's traditional pre-convention party this year touted an eclectic mix of product in the pipeline, from a sexy teen comedy to a riveting thriller, from a compelling drama making its DVD debut to a rich lineup of family product highlighted by a second Barbie release.

The product preview came while Artisan executives entertained key accounts here in Las Vegas with a Sunday night cocktail party and a Monday golf tournament, sit-down dinner and screening of the upcoming theatrical release Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a critically acclaimed documentary about the original musicians who played on the Motown recordings in the 1960s.

“It's an excellent opportunity for us to bring in our key retail and distribution executives from around the country and get their focus and attention on our release slate for the upcoming year,” said Jeff Fink, Artisan's president of sales and marketing.

On Aug. 27, Artisan will release a special 10th anniversary edition of the groundbreaking Quentin Tarantino thriller Reservoir Dogs on both DVD ($26.98) and VHS ($14.98).

The new DVD, which follows by five years the film's original appearance on disc, will include an interview with Tarantino, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast. The film has been newly remastered in DTS 5.1 surround sound and will be packaged in five different boxes, one for each heist character in the film (Mr. White, Mr. Brown, etc.). The “brown” package will be a special limited-edition Quentin Tarantino version.

Reservoir Dogs has a successful selling history, and this takes the movie to a new plateau, with features that have never been seen before,” Fink said. Orders are due July 30.

Artisan also is touting the Aug. 20 release of National Lampoon's Van Wilder, its $22 million box office spring theatrical release. The teen comedy, which prebooks July 23, will be available in rated and unrated versions. The unrated version, billed as “Van Gone Wilder,” contains “outrageous footage not seen in the theatrical release and, most importantly, unrated menus in which the viewer has the option of seeing the actress who plays Naomi topless,” Fink said.

In November, the acclaimed drama Glengarry Glen Ross will make its DVD debut in a special edition. “This is one of Entertainment Weekly's most requested movies that have yet to be released on DVD,” Fink said.

The Monday night dinner featured a half-hour presentation by Glenn Ross, executive VP of Artisan and president of its Family Home Entertainment division.

Ross talked up the label's lineup, which includes “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “Hallmark Hall of Fame” programming, and singled out several upcoming high points.

What promises to be the biggest release on the horizon is Barbie as Rapunzel, a follow-up to last year's Barbie in the Nutcracker, which sold 3.4 million units and boasted a 94 percent sellthrough rate, Ross said.

The video will be out Oct. 1, with orders for singles due Aug. 20 and packs, Aug. 8.

Family Home Entertainment plans to take full advantage of the growing transition of the family market from VHS to DVD, with the video coming out on the same day on both formats.

“Last year our sales were about 90 percent VHS and 10 percent DVD,” Ross said. “This year it's looking more like 50-50.”

The DVD will include a sampler of a new Barbie video game as well as an art gallery and several interactive play elements in which set-top users will be able to decorate Barbie's castle with famous paintings and dress up the character.

“This is another instance in which Barbie is a real strong role model for girls,” Ross said. “In Barbie in the Nutcracker, she introduced viewers to ballet and music; in this one, she introduces them to paintings and art. Instead of Barbie lowering her hair to get out of the tower, she uses her imagination to paint her way out, so there's really a strong sense of culture and empowerment.”

The Barbie as Rapunzel video release will be supported by a massive advertising campaign (35 percent bigger than last year's campaign for Barbie in the Nutcracker) that begins before street date and runs through the end of the year, Ross said.

A photo of the video box will be prominently featured on 5 million toy and doll packages, and consumers get a $5 rebate if they buy both Barbie videos and a $10 rebate if they buy the new video and the CD-ROM game.

Family Home Entertainment also is gearing up for two more Hallmark Entertainment releases: The Snow Queen, with Bridget Fonda, and a biopic on Hans Christian Andersen. Release dates have not yet been set, pending determination of broadcast dates.

“Hallmark is a major brand for us,” he said, “and these will both be major TV events.”

Ross also previewed Family Home Entertainment's first theatrical release, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, which opens Oct. 4 on about 1,100 screens.

“This is one of the most successful children's franchises in the market,” Ross said.

“VeggieTales” videos have sold upwards of 30 million units, he said, and the characters have just completed a 50-city tour. The franchise extends to books, music and license goods.

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