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Series <I>Taken</I> to Appear Only on DVD

19 May, 2003 By: Joan Villa

Just in time for Halloween, DreamWorks Home Entertainment will explore the eerie world of alien abductions with the Oct. 21 release Steven Spielberg Presents Taken.

The DVD six-disc boxed set will contain all 10 episodes of the Sci Fi Channel's highest-rated program. It marks the first time the studio has released a major title on DVD only. Bonus features include a featurette of Spielberg discussing his inspiration for the epic story, a showcase of special effects including the creation of the alien characters and a making-of look behind the scenes.

The set prebooks Sept. 9 at $89.95 (MAP).

As part of a promotional partnership, the Sci Fi Channel will re-air the series about three weeks before the DVD release to “reacquaint” viewers and promote sales, said Kelly Sooter, domestic head of DreamWorks Home Entertainment. The programs will be followed by a direct-response consumer offer exclusive to the network that Sooter predicts will heighten consumer awareness for the DVD at retail.

“What we have found over time is direct response truly drives retail sales -- it doesn't seem to have any cannibalizing effect on retail because it sort of runs as one big advertisement,” she said. “The vast majority of sales go through the retail cash register.”

In fact, past TV airings of DreamWorks movies such as Gladiator have caused a spike in retail sales, she said. While the price at which Sci Fi Channel will offer Taken has not yet been determined, Sooter promises it would “never be less than retail, because our goal is to make sure we're driving sales at retail.”

The series will target what Sooter calls the “very strong, loyal audience” of sci-fi enthusiasts with national broadcast and print ads, radio promotions and online efforts. However, with anticipated Emmy nominations and the visibility of the Spielberg name beyond sci-fi fans, DreamWorks anticipates broad appeal beyond the 5 million households that viewed the series on cable.

To that end, the studio will be releasing Taken to the rental market also as singles so packaging is available on all discs, she said.

“We absolutely believe the rental market is the way a lot of people will find out about this, so it's an important channel for us and ultimately will lead to more sales,” she added.

Two other bonus featurettes in the set will explore how each of the 10 directors hand-picked by Spielberg approached the making of their episodes and a “Time Warp” that documents how the production team captured the essence of cultural and social changes that took place throughout the story line.

The box art sports iridescent foil with the distinct floating person in silhouette that is the trademark of the series. Aggressive marketing will aim to drive consumer awareness through the holidays, Sooter said. DreamWorks is betting Taken will be highly collectable.

“There was a lot of buzz around the series itself, but making the commitment to watch 10 consecutive days is a big obligation on people's part, so we have a lot of people who are familiar with it but may not have watched all of it or part of it,” she said.

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