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THE MORNING BUZZ: A New Twist on Exclusives

15 Apr, 2002 By: Stephanie Prange

Last week during a sweep of stores for her weekly merchandising column, associate editor Jessica Wolf uncovered a new twist on retail exclusives. Several Universal discs sold at a local Best Buy sported an exclusive bonus disc with extras for the theatrical release The Scorpion King, including cast and filmmaker interviews, behind-the-scenes and "making-of" footage, and a Godsmack music video.

Best Buy and other mass merchants have in the past offered exclusive, limited quantity trinkets or storybooks with video releases, particularly family fare. But this new exclusive offers both the retailer and studio a unique opportunity. DVD extras, which are increasingly popular with consumers, are a malleable added-value item that can be targeted to a particular retailer and can even serve to boost a theatrical release, as the Scorpion King bonus disc does. Many an advertising campaign masquerades as a "making-of" feature. Practically the whole lineup on cable network E! Entertainment is advertising disguised as programming, and consumers eat it up. Studios often have this stuff waiting around to be placed on the DVD. Some smart cookie over at Universal evidently thought, "Why not release it early on exclusive bonus discs to prime the theatrical pump and toss a bone to a favored retail customer?"

I've written in the past about the untapped potential of DVD ("DVD Can Do So Much More, But There Are Roadblocks," Video Store Magazine, March 10-16). Retail exclusives are yet another area of possible experimentation. While studios find it hard to package entire soundtracks or video games with movie DVDs because the music and game industries don't want to surrender those strongholds, studios might be able to strike deals that offer a taste of the soundtrack or game in a retail exclusive. To a record or game company, the extra could be pitched as an advertising vehicle – a music video single to offer a taste of an album or launch a new group or a snippet of gameplay to launch a new video game, particularly one tied to the movie.

While DVD is five years old, its potential as a promotional medium is in its infancy. Retailers anxious for an edge in the DVD market may begin to insist on exclusive DVD bonus discs, and with the programming sitting around from various television specials and other material in preparation for DVDs, studios may increasingly oblige.

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