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Gift Sets Multiplying

5 Nov, 2004 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Hollywood has come down with a bad case of gift-set fever. Spurred by studies that show bonus materials are a key selling point — and the emergence of diehard DVD collectors — suppliers are cranking out elaborate DVD packages at a record clip.

Indeed, over the past four years the number of DVD releases consisting of three or more discs has more than quintupled, from 92 in 2001 to 516 this year, according to The DVD Release Report.

This year's crop — much of it streeting in the fourth quarter — ranges from single-title “ultra” special editions, like Warner Home Video's new four-disc Gone With the Wind package, to ambitious collections, like a 14-disc set of Oliver Stone movies, also from Warner.

There's even 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's eight-season set of “The X-Files,” which lists for just under $800. Even at that price, it's a bargain, said Steve Feldstein, SVP of marketing communications for Fox. “You're looking at eight years' worth of some of the best entertainment programming around,” he said.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is making a strong play for collectors this year, with elegantly packaged five-disc Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields compilations and a collection of James Stewart films, among other offerings. President Craig Kornblau said internal research shows collectability is important: “Among buyers who have bought a new release without having seen it first, 80 percent said it was because they wanted to add it to their collections.”

New Line Home Entertainment president Stephen Einhorn agrees. That's why his company is once again going the gift-set route with the third and final film in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Dec. 14, the studio will release a four-disc extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as well as a five-disc gift set that includes more bonus material and a sculpture of Minas Tirith. “DVD collector sets take the film experience to an entirely new level,” Einhorn said.

Among the other new gift sets arriving in stores in time for the holidays:

• Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is offering consumers a Spider-Man 2 Gift Set the same day the regular DVD hits stores (Nov. 30). It includes a reduced-size reprint of the original comic book in which Peter Parker decides to give up being Spider-Man and a limited-edition portfolio of Spider-Man-inspired artwork.

• If the two-disc special edition of Aladdin ($30) isn't enough, Buena Vista Home Entertainment also offers a “DVD collector's gift set” ($50) that includes seven character portraits, a companion book and a film frame.

• The same day it is releasing Shrek 2 (Nov. 5), DreamWorks Home Entertainment is releasing Shrek: The Story So Far Gift Set ($40), a four-disc package that includes Shrek, the sequel and Shrek 3-D, a 16-minute animated “bridge” between the two movies.

• MGM Home Entertainment Nov. 9 is bundling Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2 together in a hot pink gift box ($40) with a matching pen and notepad and magnets sporting “Elle-isms.” Also in the pipeline from MGM: The Rocky Anthology DVD Gift Set (Dec. 14, $63), with all five Rocky films and a bonus disc.

• Warner Home Video has The Martin Scorsese Collection (five films, $60) and a 15-disc Super Bowl I-XXX Collector's Set (Nov. 2, $173).

• Fox, which has just scored big with the original Star Wars Trilogy, has Studio Classics: The Best Picture Collection ($30), with several Oscar-winning flicks; Farrelly brothers movies; and an Ultimate Chick Flick Collection.

There's also a little studio one-upmanship. Last year, Fox released the Alien Quadrilogy, with the four “Alien” movies in a nine-disc boxed set. This year, Warner is releasing The Ultimate Matrix Collection (Dec. 7) with the three “Matrix” films — plus the animated compilation The Animatrix — on 10 discs.

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