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Studios Roll Out Discs for Moms

Doctor Zhivago
Doctor Zhivago

By : Susanne Ault | Posted: 26 Mar 2010

Why bother with flowers for Mother’s Day when there is a bouquet of high-profile DVD and Blu-ray releases to give?

That’s the hopeful thinking of studios and retailers as they usher in a slew of female-driven films, plus broadly popular films to connect with moms. Mother’s Day, which falls on May 9 this year, isn’t as huge of a DVD/Blu-ray promotional opportunity as Christmas or Valentine’s Day. However, the home entertainment industry does believe it is one of the biggest times of the year for its product.

“It’s up there in the top five holidays,” said Jeff Baker, EVP and GM of theatrical catalog for Warner Home Video. “I think [DVD/Blu-ray] is a great gift item. Today it’s very difficult to find something that has any substance or consequence for the same price.”

Warner’s Mother’s Day centerpiece is the release of romance classic Doctor Zhivago on Blu-ray for the first time May 4. When adjusted for inflation, the movie ranks among the top 10 box office earners of all time. Helping drive buzz, Doctor Zhivago has scored a screening during the April 21-May 2 Tribeca Film Festival.

“This is a love story and a period piece,” Baker said. “But first and foremost this is a great story, and it obviously skews toward female persuasions.”

The studio also is rolling out another edition of its Mother’s Day program, where pricing is reduced on such themed catalog titles as The Notebook, P.S. I Love You and You’ve Got Mail.

Beyond the obvious romantic stories, there are also some non-traditional Mother’s Day titles that should please mom as well. Although Avatar is known as a sci-fi flick, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment thinks it would make a perfect Mother’s Day present. The movie, hitting DVD/Blu-ray on April 22, is the top-grossing modern movie of all time.

“Avatar’s romantic storyline and empowered female characters makes it an ideal gift for Mother’s Day,” said Mary Daily, EVP marketing at Fox. “Women of all ages have responded to the emotional connection and spectacular visuals of the movie like never before.”

Starting April 6, Fox is partnering with coupons.com to offer $2 savings on such mom DVD favorites as The Devil Wears Prada, The Family Stone, The Graduate and other titles.

Vivendi Entertainment has created a whole line of Mother’s Day product, featuring new-to-DVD titles that have previously aired on the Hallmark Channel. The May 4 releases —  Working Miracles, Bound by a Secret, The Nanny Express and Ladies of the House — are value-priced at $14.93 and feature holiday-appropriate pink ribbons across the box art. Also fun for moms, all the featured films boast such recognizable names as Vanessa Marcil, Meredith Baxter and Florence Henderson.

“These have enough star power for moms to pick up, and they are attractively priced to make a great impulse gift item,” said Norbert Hudak, SVP of brand marketing for Vivendi. “They are all approved by Dove [which promotes family-friendly films]. So the gift giver knows it’s a safe purchase for mom.”

Vivendi hopes the Mother’s Day campaign will mimic a similar Hallmark-based Easter DVD promotion it launched in mid-March. The supplier collectively shipped 100,000 units of four themed titles — a respectable amount for titles that already have aired on TV.

Although not as hot as Christmas, retailers also are rallying around Mother’s Day. It pushes studios to offer niche romantic or women-geared films that they might not release without the promotional hook of the holiday.

“I’m excited,” Mark Steiner, buyer at Seattle-based Scarecrow Video, said regarding Doctor Zhivago. “I’m not sure if there will be huge Mother’s Day spikes with it, but I’m glad that it gets these kinds of movies out.”

He is also jazzed for similar reasons with New Video’s upcoming remastered April 27 release of BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.

“If these titles are a marketing move, than that’s great,” Steiner added.

Besides hot catalog releases, retailers are also looking forward to the many new releases set for the April/May period.

“We will be featuring a number of popular titles perfect for a Mother’s Day celebration, including The Blind Side, Young Victoria, Nine and It’s Complicated,” said Gary Cohen, SVP of marketing and customer experience at Redbox. “And, for those movie lovers looking for the latest kids and family titles, we will be featuring Dora the Explorer: Explore the Earth, Wild Stallion and Go Diego, Go: The Great Panda Adventure, among others.”

Best Buy spokeswoman Erin Bix agrees, explaining, “We do have promotions planned specifically aimed at appealing to moms. … Leap Year and Nine release the week leading up to Mom’s Day (May 4) and It’s Complicated releases the week earlier than that (April 27). Avatar will have recently released as well (April 22) — which we think will be a great title for everyone.”


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