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Easter, Passover Titles: The First Signs of Spring

8 Feb, 2005 By: Meryl Schoenbaum

While most of the country is feeling the bite of winter, home video suppliers are already getting ready for spring.

In recent years, suppliers have been steadily increasing their offerings of children's titles focusing on Easter and Passover. Some are new titles, at least to DVD; others are repromotes.

“The pre-Easter window is traditionally a strong selling period for family and children's titles, hence The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and our new Candyland DVD launch,” said Martin Blythe, publicity spokesperson for Paramount Home Entertainment.

“Of course, titles themed more specifically to the Easter holiday also sell very well during that window,” he said. “It isn't only the evergreens like It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown; it is also newer titles like Dora's Egg Hunt.

Easter flowers on video
First Look Media offers the animated The Easter Egg Adventure (street date Feb. 22), with voice talent including James Woods, Brooke Shields, and music by Natalie Cole ($14.98 DVD). The story follows the residents of Egg Town as they seek to retrieve Easter eggs from thieves.

Warner Home Video Feb. 8 releases Yogi the Easter Bear ($14.96 DVD, $9.93 VHS), in which Yogi Bear and his friend Boo Boo try to rescue the Easter bunny. On the same date, Warner is repromoting Baby Looney Tunes' Eggs-traordinary Adventure ($14.96 DVD, $6.93 VHS) and Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies ($6.93 VHS), a mix of new and vintage animation.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment gives flight to The Littlest Angel's Easter March 1 (prebook Feb. 8, $9.98 DVD, $4.50 VHS). The story involves a mischievous little boy who finds that heaven is a place filled with magic and wonder, but where angels have forgotten how to play.

MGM Home Entertainment's basket includes The Adventures of the American Rabbit, streeting Feb. 8 ($14.95 DVD). Rob the Rabbit discovers the value of teamwork and the belief that there's a hero in everyone as he fights for justice as a superhero.

Paramount Home Entertainment March 1 offers Max & Ruby: Springtime for Max & Ruby ($16.99 DVD), including 12 new episodes from Nick Jr.'s TV series. Among the episodes is “Max's Chocolate Chicken,” in which the main characters go on a chocolate egg hunt and make some unexpected discoveries. Already available from Paramount's stable of Easter children's titles is Dora the Explorer: Dora's Egg Hunt ($16.99 DVD) and Nick Jr.: Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring, which includes both titles in its compilation ($16.99 DVD). And what would Easter be without Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang? The perennial classic It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown ($19.99 DVD) is available as well.

Classic Media/Sony Wonder has a mix of old and new holiday offerings. The latest release for Easter is Baby Huey's Great Easter Adventure, due Feb. 15 ($14.98 DVD), featuring the lovable 7-foot talking duck. Another new entry is VeggieTales: An Easter Carol, streeting March 8 ($14.98 DVD, $12.95 VHS) with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber working at an Easter egg factory. The DVD has bonus features including an Easter egg hunt game. Also available is the classic story Here Comes Peter Cottontail, due Feb. 15 ($14.98 DVD).

For teens, Buena Vista Home Entertainment offers the ‘PG-13' (for some violence involving the crucifixion) title The Gospel of John ($29.99 DVD), the story of the life and death of Jesus as told by the apostle John.

Ventura Distribution brings Fat Albert to the Easter parade of videos with the Fat Albert Easter Special, streeting March 8 ($9.99 DVD). The program was originally a primetime TV special and is now available for the first time on video. It features Fat Albert and the Cosby kids doing something nice in the spirit of Easter when their good deed gets sidetracked by a practical joke.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment offers The Easter Story Keepers ($14.98 DVD, $6.98 VHS).

Good Times Entertainment has The Great Easter Egg Hunt, streeting Feb. 22 ($5.95 DVD). It's the story of a brave little stuffed bunny on an adventure to find the Great Easter Egg that will make the little boy who owns him feel better as he suffers from a terrible fever.

Delta Entertainment takes children to Easter in Bunnyland ($9.99 DVD). In this adventure, Flip Rabbit and his friends discover that their friend the Easter bunny has been kidnapped, and they must figure out a plan to free him in time for the big day.

The Story of Passover
While not as numerous as Easter DVDs, there are several Passover titles also making their way to stores.

Classic Media/Sony Wonder offers the performance art Passover title Lamb Chop's Chanukah and Shari's Passover Surprise ($19.98 DVD), featuring puppeteers Shari Lewis, her daughter Mallory and the famous sock puppet Lamb Chop.

SISU Home Entertainment offers two Passover-themed children's titles: The Seder on Planet Matzah Ball ($18.95 DVD/VHS) and Shalom Sesame Show No. 10: Passover ($16.95 VHS only), featuring Sarah Jessica Parker and the “Sesame Street” characters in a magical search for the missing matzo that they need to start their Seder (Passover dinner).

Are Passover titles in demand?

Just ask SISU president, Haim Scheininger, who said the company's “Shalom Sesame” series, featuring the “Sesame Street” characters, is among its most requested titles. SISU was formed 17 years ago. The company's Jewish-themed videos are sold at Tower Records and Video, Barnes & Noble and Borders, and can be purchased through distributors such as Baker & Taylor, Ingram and VPD, as well as specialty distributors such as Facets Video. The titles also are widely available at Judaica stores and are advertised in Jewish publications.

“We target the major metropolitan areas, where our demographic can be between 5 percent to 9 percent of the population,” Scheininger said.

“Hollywood Video has our Seder on Planet Matzah Ball title in 40 percent of its stores.”

The title originally appeared on PBS last year and will be shown again this year.

“With the ‘Shalom Sesame' series, we have the distinction of having an exclusive partnership with the Emmy award-winning writers and directors from ‘Sesame Street' TV show,” Scheininger said.

He added that the company works closely with schools and libraries to offer its products through catalog sales.

And sales are not just brisk during holiday time.

“The Internet has made year-round sales possible,” Scheininger said.

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