Universal Unveils Holiday Gift Sets9 Oct, 2008 By: Thomas K. Arnold
Universal Studios Home Entertainment this week is announcing an ambitious ramp-up in its home video gift set initiative, hoping that the secret to success in these rocky economic times lies in the hearts of collectors.
The studio has unveiled an unprecedented slate of 11 gift sets aimed at holiday shoppers, encompassing both new theatrical releases and catalog titles. And for the first time, Blu-ray Disc is a factor; last year at this time, Universal was still an exclusive supporter of the doomed HD DVD format, which finally conceded defeat in the high-def format war last February.
“Universal has designed some exceptionally eye-catching, must-have collectible packaging that truly reflects and enhances the filmed content inside,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “We’ve learned from experience that home entertainment enthusiasts eagerly look forward to such collectible editions of their favorite films and TV shows.”
Universal’s 2008 gift-set lineup is highlighted by three new theatrical releases coming to home video in both the DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats: The Incredible Hulk, coming Oct. 21; Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, due Nov. 11; and Wanted, arriving in stores Dec. 2.
The Incredible Hulk DVD and Blu-ray Disc gift sets each feature hours of bonus content, including an alternate opening scene and extensive background information about the film and its characters, as well as digital copy for play on portable movie-viewing devices. The Blu-ray Disc version comes in collectible 3-D packaging.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army will be released as a three-disc DVD and a two-disc Blu-ray Disc gift set. The set includes a digital copy and hours of in depth bonus features, all encased in limited-edition 3-D packaging. The gift sets also come with a director’s production journal, a poster and a collectible Golden Army statue.
Wanted, an action thriller with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, will be issued in a deluxe gift set, also in both DVD and Blu-ray Disc versions, that includes a digital copy, hours of bonus content, a book of assassins and collectible postcards. The set comes in collectible packaging pierced with a bullet, creating a shattering effect to the outer case.
“People appreciate the added value and fun provided by this kind of packaging,” Kornblau said.
Popular catalog titles are featured in eight other gift sets, albeit on standard DVD only: The High School Flashback Collection, now in stores, features three all-new special editions of iconic 1980s films The Breakfast Club, Weird Science and Sixteen Candles, all from director John Hughes. The collection includes new interviews with cast members, deleted scenes and audio commentaries, and comes packaged in a collectible tin designed to look like a high school locker.
A three-disc collector’s edition of the 1942 Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire classic Holiday Inn features an all-new color version of the film, along with the original black-and-white theatrical version. The set, arriving in stores Oct. 14, also comes with a CD soundtrack featuring holiday songs by famed composer Irving Berlin.
Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection ships Oct. 28 in a collectible trunk; the set features all 28 comedies the duo produced for Universal and comes with an exclusive 44-page book on the legendary duo’s comedic exploits. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas follows Nov. 4 in a gift set featuring the two-disc special edition of the film and a limited-edition Grinch snow globe.
A 10th anniversary edition of The Big Lebowski, packaged in a limited-edition bowling ball case, kicked off Universal’s 2008 gift set initiative in early September; coming Oct. 28 is a 30th anniversary edition of Animal House, packaged in a Delta House box and including two exclusive new Scene It? games, a new documentary and an exclusive yearbook.
Also in the gift-set pipeline are hefty complete-series sets of classic TV shows “Knight Rider,” in sleek black collectible packaging featuring K.I.T.T.’s trademark swirling red light with a sound chip of the show’s iconic theme song, and The Incredible Hulk, in a Hulk-like box. Both are scheduled to be released Oct. 21.
“With the array of unforgettable titles Universal is offering in deluxe gift sets this holiday season, movie fans will find that there truly is something for everyone,” Kornblau said.