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Big Fish Line Up for Holiday Sellthrough

7 Aug, 2003 By: Dan Bennett

When searching for home-video holiday gifts this year, consumers are promised they will be able to find Nemo -- and then some.

Hits are on the home-entertainment agenda for fourth-quarter 2003, with some of the biggest 2003 theatrical titles making their way to retail. One of the biggest of the biggest fishes is, of course, the box office smash Finding Nemo.

“This is a two-disc DVD devoted to lovers of the film,” says Lori MacPherson, VP of brand marketing for Buena Vista Home Entertainment. “It's a widescreen presentation with a lot of behind-the-scenes information. We'll also have a family-friendly full-screen version. These will have games and learning activities.”

The promotions will be oceanwide in scope.

Nemo is going to be our biggest campaign ever, even bigger than Monsters, Inc.,” MacPherson said. “We're going to have unprecedented partnership support and also huge support on the Disney Channel.”

Also making a run at the gold will be Buena Vista's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which has kept its sea legs at the box office.

Pirates is a two-disc release chock-full of extras, including the deleted scenes everyone wants to see,” MacPherson said. “Both are really strong titles appealing to families, and also broad enough to capture nonparent consumers.”

The Lion King special edition, meanwhile, is more than a year in the making, while Sleeping Beauty will be the next in the studio's Platinum DVD series.

Lord of the Holidays?
Of course, some titles almost promote themselves, with a big push from studio marketing departments. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Edition and a Collector's DVD Gift Set both arrive from New Line Home Entertainment Nov. 18. The extended edition will feature four discs, with the longest version of the film spread across two discs, and two discs of new special features. The collector's set will include the same, along with extra items, such as a sculpted Gollum statuette.

“The Lord of the Rings property is so big, even people who wouldn't say they are fanatics are interested in the special editions," said Justine Brody, VP of marketing and promotions at New Line Home Entertainment. “The title is coming out a month before The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in theaters, so the title will really complement the theatrical release, and vice versa. The synergy here works particularly well.”

There are some good titles scheduled for the fourth quarter, Brody said, and the competition and higher awareness helps everybody.

“With the high-profile titles and the increasing DVD player penetration, everybody in the industry is going to benefit,” she said. “You can really have some impactful promotional opportunities with DVD. Our motivation is to design the promotions that satisfy the consumer as much as possible.”

Of course New Line's parent company, Warner, is enjoying a big year with the “Matrix” franchise, and coming from Warner Home Video will be The Matrix Reloaded, an Oct. 14 arrival that'll hit stores just before the third film in the series arrives in theaters.

Then there's The Hulk. Flexing its muscles for a fourth-quarter release, the Universal Studios Home Video title promises to be an attention-grabber.

DreamWorks Home Entertainment, distributed by Universal, has confirmed that Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas will also be a fourth-quarter release.

CTHE on Full Throttle
Several solid titles will receive support from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, including Anger Management, Daddy Day Care, Hollywood Homicide, Bad Boys 2 and the Oct. 7 arrival of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

“We have a variety of family and action titles this year,” said Tracey Garvin, VP of marketing for Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. “We're excited about the fourth quarter, because that's when the foot traffic is up, and most of us in the industry are also optimistic about what we call the fifth quarter, because we're expecting strong sales into January.”

Fans of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle will have intriguing options, including both rated and unrated versions of the title. With this and other titles, Columbia TriStar will work all marketing angles.

“There are so many marketing and partnership angles available now,” Garvin said. “You can really devise a solid package for consumers, because of the growth and strength of DVD. A few years ago you had to ask companies to partner, but now they are finding you.”

Columbia TriStar is also looking for respectable business from its line of smaller titles originating theatrically from its Sony Pictures Classics line and other art-house labels.

“Fourth quarter really goes beyond the great big blockbuster theatrical releases,” Garvin said. "Whale Rider is a wonderful family film, and Winged Migration did almost $6 million at the box office. It's a beautiful documentary that was nominated for an Oscar last year. We're placing it in the holiday shopping period because we want to offer something for everyone.”

MGM's Holiday Push
Progressive thinking is also behind the push at MGM Home Entertainment for such titles as the upcoming Fargo special edition.

Fargo is fully loaded, and coming out right before the new Coen Brothers movie Intolerable Cruelty,” said Amy Zwagerman, director of library marketing at MGM Home Entertainment. “We have a huge consumer print campaign going, with a coupon special. The Usual Suspects became a must-have when it came out in special edition, and we're expecting the same with Fargo.

MGM has special editions of Escape From New York and several James Bond packages, as well as such children's favorites such as It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Concerning the latter title, Allyssa Moore-Del Piano, executive director of family marketing, said film has been reinvigorated, in part because of the popularity of the stage musical.

“The movie is also going to air on network television for the first time in five years,” Moore-Del Piano said. “It will air on ABC's ‘Wonderful World of Disney' during fourth quarter. The DVD release will include a making-of documentary and some fun games, a 32-page storybook and some innovative packaging.”

To accompany its Agent Cody Banks release, MGM is sending a large, mobile detective-themed maze out to malls and parks nationwide as a promotion. In addition, MGM is repromoting some of its popular gift packages, including the “Rocky” titles and films made by director Billy Wilder.

“We're becoming even more aggressive in our offers for fourth quarter,” Zwagerman said. “It makes sense, because fourth quarter is stronger.”

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