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Grizzly Adams Productions Enters DVD Market

10 Mar, 2005 By: Lyndsey Shinoda

Grizzly Adams Productions has left its paw print on family-friendly feature films, television series and specials. Now the company is expanding its tracks to the home entertainment market with Grizzly Adams Family Entertainment, a full line of home video and DVD product.

Dave Balsiger, senior producer and VP of Grizzly Adams Productions, said the company's foray into home entertainment was only natural.

“We're an independent production company. We've been that for 30 years,” Balsiger said. “We used to only reinvent ourselves every 10 years, but now you have to reinvent yourself every three or four years because of the technology and the changing marketplace. The big change has been everything moving to DVD. If there's a change in technology, we want to be there to embrace it.”

Balsiger said that in the past, TV license fees made enough money to cover Grizzly Adams' budget, but license fees have since gone down 80 percent, and foreign contractors are licensing less, making DVD a key market.

In an age in which decency standards seem to be under greater scrutiny, family-friendly entertainment has a niche.

“Family-friendly fare is defined in a couple ways. If it's a type of show that the entire family can watch without embarrassing language or toilet humor,” Balsiger said. “It's the type of show you take grandma to. It's either ‘G'- or ‘PG'-rated. That type of entertainment has some sort of message. You go away feeling good.”

Although Grizzly Adams would like to be known as “the family-friendly values show producers,” for the past 10 years they've been heavily producing what Balsiger calls “faith-based” or “Bible entertainment” shows, rather than religious shows.

“Biblical entertainment is a show that is developed around a biblical concept, such as heaven,” he explained. “Faith-based is, ‘why do bad things happen to good people?' In these 30 years, we've produced 87 faith-based/bible entertainment shows, and some of those are our most profitable. We watched Mel Gibson's The Passion [of the Christ] clean up in the theater and on DVD.”

And Grizzly Adams is hoping to clean up with a production on Noah's Ark and another on the 12 apostles that picks up where Passion left off.

What sets the company apart from others is that they use Gallup polling to test what audiences really want to see, Balsiger said.

“In tracking the audience, we are able to keep up a good pulse on the audience, usually about 18 months out,” Balsiger said. “Using this system, in 30 years, we've never lost money on a show. Maybe next year, it might be all family-friendly shows that have no direct biblical or major faith theme. We follow our testing and determine what the public wants and we try to fill that need.”

Grizzly Adams is currently marketing two titles: Breaking the Da Vinci Code (street March 22), which explores whether Dan Brown's novel is fact or fiction; and The Search for Heaven (prebook March 22; streets April 19), which looks past faith to see if heaven really exists.

“If you are purely religious, you are endorsing one faith or another. In our “Heaven” show, we have Protestants, Catholics and nonbelievers,” Balsiger said. “We try to stay away from anything that steers toward only one faith. When we do any type of faith-based productions, we don't want to offend anyone. We go through screenings with people from various faiths to see if there's anything offensive. If so, we take it out in the script stage.

“The one thing we do know is that we've been getting a very good response to these two shows. Looking at our data, the market is there to consume these types of faith-based and family products at least for the foreseeable future. Any trend stays around for two to three years. So we think the market will be strong in this genre. But we're always prepared to turn on a dime.”

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