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UPDATE: Columbia House Joins Movie Tie-In Trend

9 Jul, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Operating on the theory that a rising tide carries all boats, more and more studios, home video suppliers and theater chains are looking to raise the water level with cross-promotions that benefit them all.

The latest version of this promotional linkage is direct marketing club Columbia House's partnership with Loews Cineplex Entertainment, in which movie ticket stubs and concession receipts will become the frequent flyer miles of the movie theater industry, racking up points for those who return them to Columbia House for credit against discs.

The pilot will start with 10 Loews theater sites, which will have posters advertising the initial promotion. The offer in all theaters will be one free DVD when you join, with a commitment to buy two more within one year.

“Five will have tabling which will have a take-away flyer that customers can fill out at the theater or take home and return via the [return envelope] attached to the flyer. The other five will have a promotion that will be tied to the sale of combos at the concession stand,” said Bill Ostroff, chief marketing officer for Columbia House.

At the second group of theaters, consumers who buy concession combos will receive flyers directing them to a Web site, www.chloews.com (the site is scheduled to go live in August). There, they will be able to claim the free DVD, Ostroff said. Loews' executives were “immediately receptive” to the idea when Columbia House representatives approached them, he said.

“We don't believe that the DVD club competes with the theater chains,” Ostroff said. ”It is a logical fit in the distribution chain. Columbia House has a member base that comprises avid movie consumers, and Loews wants to target these members. Similarly, Loews' customers are avid movie watchers who want to build their collections.”

Studios have been putting movie tickets for sequels and related films into DVD packages for the last couple of years, and it's happening with increasing frequency. New Line Home Entertainment packaged tickets for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in extended DVD editions of The Fellowship of the Ring; 20th Century Fox paired tickets to Daredevil with discs of X-Men 1.5; Universal did likewise with The Fast and the Furious: Tricked Out Edition DVD and tickets for the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious. MGM departed from the sequel format, packaging tickets to Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde in the DVD of A Guy Thing.

In a new hybrid of the pairing promotions, DreamWorks Home Entertainment got together with Canned Interactive to create a John Cleese-narrated Shrek honeymoon storybook CD-ROM, which will be given to children attending DreamWorks' animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in the first five days of its theatrical release.

The promotion is designed to entice viewers into theaters for Sinbad as well as keep Shrek in front of audiences until the sequel arrives next year. It also includes the short film shown at the Universal Studios theme park's new Shrek 4-D attraction.

“You get read-along storybook on a CD-ROM, It's an 8- to 12-minute storyline about Farquhad's ghost trying to intervene with Shrek and Fiona on their honeymoon,” said Doug Textor, managing director of Canned Interactive. “This is 3-to-10- year-olds. It has virtual pages turning, one page for every one or two sentences. It's to read along and teach you to read. If you use it in a regular CD player, it will just read the story.”

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