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Studios Wrap DVDs For the Holidays

5 Oct, 2007 By: Billy Gil

Limited edition "Saw" set

The fourth quarter of 2007 will be huge for packaged media, with “the greatest lineup ever,” according to DreamWorks Animation SKG CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Studios are gearing up for the season with packaging that ranges from the highly elaborate to the basic and minimalist.

The upcoming quarter brings the close of several franchises and trilogies on DVD, and studios have differing approaches to releasing them. Warner Home Video is celebrating the fifth “Harry Potter” film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, with several Potter releases Dec. 11. The most elaborate of the packages is the Harry Potter Limited Edition Giftset, available on DVD ($119.97), Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD ($149.99). The 12-disc sets have all five films, two bonus discs with games, three hours of extras, five souvenir bookmarks, four trading card packs and more.

A release of this caliber calls for such a set, as it is the most successful film franchise of all time, worldwide, according to Jeff Baker, GM and SVP of theatrical catalog for Warner.

Meanwhile, Warner's Nov. 13 boxed sets of the “Ocean's” franchise, in DVD, Blu-ray and HD DVD versions, come in a slimmed-down, hip, black, white and red boxed set.

Similarly, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's upcoming “Spider-Man” Blu-ray Disc set, timed to the Oct. 30 DVD release of Spider-Man 3, is attractively set in O-ring packaging, embossed with dull and gloss varnishes, but it is relatively slim, taking up about the amount of space of three Amarays stacked together.

“The ‘Spider-Man' titles will be made available for the first time on Blu-ray. I don't think there's anything else [that's needed] for that,” said Gregg Shack, VP of worldwide creative advertising for SPHE.

He added that it works case by case when it comes to conceptualizing video packaging.

“You're always trying to separate yourself on the shelf from other titles,” he said.


The fourth quarter also will see scads of eye-popping TV DVD sets, many of which are complete series. Nov. 6 (prebook Oct. 10) comes The X-Files: The Ultimate Collection (61-DVD set $329.98), from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Oct. 9 Fox and MGM will release Stargate SG-1: The Complete Series Collection, a 54-DVD set at $329.98. Nov. 6 Sony will release Seinfeld: The Complete Series, a 32-DVD set that comes with its own coffee table book, at $283.95.

But some TV DVD sets are taking a step further with packaging that reflects the series. Sony Nov. 6 will release The King of Queens: The Complete Series at $232.95, the 27-disc set comes in a mini delivery truck. Both the Oct. 30 release of Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Series set (HBO Video, 44-DVD set $279.98) and the Nov. 6 release of Full House: The Complete Series (Warner, 32-DVD set $169.98) come in miniature houses, reflecting their family sitcom status.

Cult Titles

The upcoming Sony release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition on Nov. 13 (prebook Oct. 11) includes such extras as a scrapbook featuring iconic art from the film. The $39.95 DVD and $49.95 three-disc Blu-ray sets also have all three versions of the 1977 film together for the first time — the original theatrical cut, the re-edited 1980 theatrical special edition and director Steven Spielberg's definitive director's cut, released in 1998 as the Collector's Edition.

Meanwhile, Warner's Dec. 18 release of Blade Runner: Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition (DVD $78.92, Blu-ray and HD DVD $99.98) comes in a briefcase, a reference to the briefcase the film's Deckard character carried, with collectibles galore inside. The title will street the same day in two- and four-disc DVD versions.

Warner Nov. 20 will release a four-disc collector's edition of Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same (DVD $44.98). The limited run edition will include a collectible T-shirt and re-created ticket stubs.

Retail Wants Extra, Extra

Steve Palizzi, president and founder of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Premium Concepts & Design Inc., produces promotional concepts for studios looking for something extra for their titles. These special editions, laden with such added material as toys and clothing, often appear at specific retailers looking for something extra to catch customer eyes.

“We are seeing a demand for very elaborate packaging,” Palizzi said. “For a Wal-Mart [for example] … there is a shelf space issue. But the common trend is that retailers are looking for more and more ways to be unique and stand out and draw traffic into their stories.”

Among the projects Premium Concepts is working on are a boxed set of the “Saw” films for Lionsgate that will feature a voice-recordable “Jigsaw” puppet, to be featured at such specialty retailers as Trans World; a version of the Reservoir Dogs: 15th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition (Lionsgate) featuring shot glasses with the characters from the Quentin Tarantino film; and a version of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (on DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 4) with a “Pirates” pocketwatch.

As for what the bigger retailers are looking for, that depends.

“The consensus is that there is a need for different types of packaging to meet different types of movies,” said Brian Lucas, a spokesperson for Best Buy. “We are really excited about the fact that there are some movies coming in the back half of the year that we can expect some unique packaging for.

“We're lucky because we have a lot of store space dedicated to DVD, so for us, it's not how many titles can you fit, but what conveys the excitement of the category.”

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