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Lighting Up DVD

26 Apr, 2008 By: John Latchem

A look at the "Mad Men" packaging

If critical acclaim and awards haven't got enough viewers buzzing about “Mad Men,” Lionsgate hopes its DVD release certainly will. The DVD version is packaged in a limited-edition metal case styled on a cigarette lighter, taking a cue from one of the show's trademark images.

Created by former “Sopranos” writer Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men” delves into the lives of those involved in the ruthless world of advertising in New York in 1960.

“People would go to work, have a smoke, pour a drink, work for about 20 minutes and then go to lunch,” said Jenna Sonenshein, brand manager for Lionsgate. “They'd smoke like you wouldn't believe.”

Many viewers may not have heard about the show until this past awards season, when “Mad Men” won Golden Globes for best TV drama and best actor in a TV drama for Jon Hamm, and also was honored by the directors and writers guilds. The show airs on AMC, not exactly known for its original dramatic programming, and attracts a demographic of high-income viewers age 35 and older.

“We're looking to grow the audience and grow the ‘Mad Men' brand,” said Sonenshein. “A lot of people are not familiar with the show. It was on AMC but didn't get a lot of visibility.”

Sonenshein expects that to change when the first season arrives on home video July 1 (prebook June 4). All 13 episodes will be available as a four-DVD set at $49.98 and a three-disc Blu-ray set at $49.99.

“You are definitely going to see the ‘Mad Men' DVD because of the packaging,” Sonenshein said. “It's going to jump off shelves.”

Lionsgate also hopes to capitalize on the interest surrounding the show's second season, which premieres this summer.

Sonenshein said Lionsgate chose the cigarette lighter because the studio was looking for an emblematic and iconic representation of the show and the era it depicts.

“Matt Weiner says the characters smoke and drink to the point where he found it disgusting,” Sonenshein said. “But he's trying to be true to the era. The look and feel of the show reflects the high style of the 1960s, and we wanted to carry that over to the DVD.”

The pyro theme is not a first for Lionsgate, which in 2006 released a special edition of Reservoir Dogs in a tin case designed to look like a gas can, with the DVDs in a faux matchbook.

The “Mad Men” Blu-ray release, which comes in standard packaging, continues Lionsgate's trend of pricing the Blu-ray only a penny more than the DVD “as a way to grow our Blu-ray product,” Sonenshein said. She said the special DVD packaging eventually will subside in favor of a more-traditional design.

Extras include audio commentary on all 13 episodes; a photo gallery with commentaries from the costume, hair and production designers; the featurette “Establishing Mad Men,” which looks at the world of the show; “Advertising the American Dream,” about the creative revolution in media in the 1960s; and an interview with composer David Carbonara.

The DVD set also includes a “Mad Men” music sampler.

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