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Studios Set on Sets

14 Oct, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf



Gift sets are proliferating this holiday season as studios strive to offer consumers more buying options and boost sales and margins in a slowing DVD market.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in particular always mines its catalog for gift-giving opportunities, said George Feltenstein, SVP of theatrical catalog marketing. “In our particular corner of the world — that is, new-to-format catalog — we are seeing growth where others are seeing shrinkage,” he said. “It's not the double-digit growth of a couple of years ago, but our products are being very well received.”

Warner is releasing the holy grail for Superman fans Nov. 28 with the Superman Ultimate Collectors Edition ($99.92), a 14-disc set with every “Superman” movie's special-edition DVD release, including Superman Returns, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, documentaries, the 1940s Fleischer cartoons and exclusive bonuses.

“No gift set in the industry's history can parallel what we have put together for Superman,” Feltenstein said.

Warner saved some energy for other titles, too. Feltenstein is particularly proud of the elaborate Astaire and Rogers: The Complete Film Collection ($119.98), which streets Oct. 17 and includes all 10 of the pair's films, as well as the documentary Astaire and Rogers: Partners in Rhythm.

Much of what Warner decides to restore and release comes from fan appetite, Feltenstein said.

He thinks sci-fi lovers will be particularly pleased to see the Forbidden Planet: Ultimate Collector's Edition ($39.93), which streets Nov. 14 with a restored Forbidden Planet: 50th Anniversary Special Edition double disc ($26.99 separately) packaged with a collectible Robby the Robot replica.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment went all out for fans with The Da Vinci Code Gift Set ($80.95), streeting Nov. 14. It has the features-laden DVD plus a collectible cryptex and “Robert Langdon” journal.

But what may be the biggest gem in the Sony gift-giving lineup this year is The Premiere Frank Capra Collection ($59.95), due Dec. 5, said Mark Rashba, VP of catalog and TV marketing. The six-disc set includes the Capra classics Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, You Can't Take it With You, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, It Happened One Night and American Madness, plus a 96-page scrapbook of photos from the Capra family. Sony's been working on the set for nearly two years, Rashba said.

Putting out a handful of quality boxed sets can yield more attention from retailers and consumers alike during the busy quarter and beyond, he said.

“People have a certain amount of money they've budgeted for gift-giving, and it is sort of a challenge to get to the top of someone's list,” Rashba said.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is going back to High School Musical with the Dec. 5 Remix Edition ($29.99), which includes a dance-along feature, two remixed songs, three new music videos and new cast interviews.

Last year's holiday box office hit The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is cropping up again on DVD this holiday shopping season in Buena Vista's December release of a four-disc extended edition DVD ($42.99), which includes an all-new feature-length making-of documentary. There's also a new limited-edition gift set ($79.99) that includes the four-disc title with a pair of Narnia-themed bookends.

Cult TV hit “Alias” may be off the air, but Buena Vista is treating the show's rabid fans with the Nov. 21 release of Alias: The Complete Collection — Seasons 1-5 ($199.99). The set comes in a limited-edition, gold-foil replica of the “Rambaldi Box” with a new bonus disc hidden in a special compartment.

HBO Video Nov. 14 has prepped the elaborately packaged Six Feet Under: The Complete Series ($279.98). Things went well last year with HBO's similar “Sex and the City” release, said Sofia Chang, VP of marketing. These pricey sets get prime placement at retail in the fourth quarter, she said. HBO also is releasing a specially packaged “Ali G” set, Da Complete Seerez ($49.98), tying in to the irreverent comedian's upcoming feature film, Borat.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is wrapping a bow around the “X-Men” films, with the X-Men Trilogy set ($49.99), which streeted Oct. 3 alongside the DVD release of the most recent film in the series, X-Men: The Last Stand.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is revisiting King Kong with the Nov. 14 release of the Deluxe Extended Edition DVD ($34.95).

Paramount Home Entertainment has The Too Cool For School Collection, which streeted Oct. 10 with the Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller … Bueller Edition DVD, Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition and Some Kind of Wonderful: Special Collector's Edition. For fans of the long-awaited 1990s soaps “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place,” there's The Good the Bad & the Beautiful 2-Pack ($108.99) arriving Nov. 7, with the complete first season of each show.

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