Gift Sets Over Flowing This Holiday Season6 Dec, 2010 By: Thomas K. Arnold
The Black Friday sales frenzy, in which consumers snagged hundreds of thousands of DVDs priced as low as $2 and Blu-ray Discs as low as $5, certainly suggests that the home entertainment business has become increasingly price-sensitive.
But on the flip side, another segment of the business that studio executives and retailers alike say is booming is the gift market — elaborate movie and TV “complete series” gift sets aimed at the holiday shopper or the collector. These gift sets generally command premium prices and are issued in limited quantities — and their margins are such that studios don’t have to sell millions of copies to make a decent profit.
That makes it an increasingly tantalizing proposition.
“The high-end DVD/BD gift set business has never been better for both labels and consumers,” said Jeff Baker, EVP and GM of theatrical catalog for Warner Home Video.
Since its release in September 2009, a Wizard of Oz gift set, which includes a watch, commemorative booklet and reproductions of the movie budget and original campaign book, has sold more than 225,000 units, generating more than $10 million, Baker said.
“And it’s not just family content that has consumers willing to pay upwards of $100 for a gift set,” Baker added. “Last February, we released a tribute commemorating Clint Eastwood’s 35 years, and 35 films, with Warner Bros. That set already has sold 70,000 units, and by next February we expect that number to approach 100,000 sets.”
Already, Warner is planning three more “expansive” gift sets for 2011, including a 40th anniversary gift set of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and a gift set of Ben-Hur.
The following is a selective list of some of the many new gift sets consumers are finding in stores (and online) this holiday season, as well as other releases that are being marketed as gifts. Some are already out, while others are due within the next week or two.
The African Queen, Paramount ($43.99 BD, $34.99 DVD): Director John Huston’s 1952 adventure classic finally made it to disc this year in a commemorative, limited-edition boxed set. The package includes the film, which took six years to restore, along with a new documentary, a Lux Radio Theater broadcast of the original play, and reproductions of both a Senitype film frame and star Katharine Hepburn’s out-of-print memoir.
Alien Anthology, 20th Century Fox ($139.99 BD): This megaset not only includes all four “Alien” movies, but also includes two versions of each film plus more than four hours of previously unreleased material. Among the highlights of the six-disc set are Sigourney Weaver’s original screen tests.
Apocalypse Now: 3-Disc Full Disclosure Edition, Lionsgate ($59.99 BD): The epic war film from Francis Ford Coppola makes its Blu-ray Disc debut in a special gift set with the film presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio, along with the acclaimed making-of feature documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.
Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition, 20th Century Fox ($54.99 BD, $34.98 DVD): The year’s biggest movie, which also happens to be the all-time box office champ, has just been reissued as a three-disc set that contains three versions of the film, including an all-new extended cut and more than 45 minutes of deleted scenes.
Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition, Walt Disney Studios ($39.99 BD/DVD combo pack, $29.99 DVD): Disney’s most requested film is finally back on the market after a seven-year moratorium.
The Bridge on the River Kwai: Blu-ray Collector’s Edition, Sony Pictures ($34.95 BD): This classic war film has been fully restored and remastered for its Blu-ray Disc debut. Sony Pictures has prepared a host of compelling new extras, including four featurettes, a documentary on the film’s 1957 premiere and a rarely seen appearance on “The Steve Allen Show” by stars William Holden and Alec Guinness.
The Elia Kazan Film Collection, 20th Century Fox ($199.98 DVD): This ambitious 16-disc set consists of 15 of the famed director’s most notable films, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), On the Waterfront (1954), East of Eden (1955) and Splendor in the Grass (1961). Five of the films have never before been issued on disc. The boxed set also includes A Letter to Elia, a documentary from Martin Scorsese.
Elf: Ultimate Collector’s Edition, Warner ($49.99 BD, $39.92 DVD): This hilarious Will Ferrell starrer marks the third time the creative minds at Warner Home Video have packaged Christmas movies in collectible holiday tins and surrounded them with trinkets (the others are National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story, both still available). In this case, buyers get an Elf CD soundtrack sampler, a holiday stocking, gift tags and a magnetic picture frame.
The Elvis 75th Anniversary DVD Collection, Warner ($74.92): This boxed set of Elvis films includes 14 of the King of Rock’s most famous movies, including Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas, as well as three documentaries.
Fantasia and Fantasia 2000: 2-Movie Special Collection, Walt Disney Studios ($45.99 BD/DVD combo pack, $39.99 DVD): Disney’s 1940 classic Fantasia is bundled with its 2000 sequel in a special gift set that offers both films on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. The Blu-ray also includes the Oscar-nominated short Destino, a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.
The Films of Rita Hayworth, Sony Pictures ($59.95 DVD): Due Dec. 21, the set contains five films starring Hayworth, including Cover Girl, Gilda and three others never before available on disc: Salome, Miss Sadie Thompson and Tonight and Every Night.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Ultimate Edition Year 3 and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Ultimate Edition Year 4, Warner ($49.99 BD, $39.92 DVD): Warner’s second installment of three-disc “Harry Potter” gift sets include not just the movie but also new hour-long making-of documentaries.
The Goonies: 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, Warner ($49.99 BD, $39.92 DVD): The family classic returns to DVD and debuts on Blu-ray Disc in a brilliantly restored version that comes packaged with a new board game, collectible storyboard prints and a 1985 souvenir magazine about the actual filming in Astoria, Ore.
Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection, Warner ($99.98 DVD): This elegantly packaged boxed set contains 24 of Bogart’s most famous films, two per disc. Among them: The Big Sleep, Casablanca, Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Maltese Falcon. Bonus materials include 15 full-length commentaries, 14 historical featurettes and 15 “Warner Night at the Movies” episodes featuring newsreels and cartoons that were played in theaters prior to the actual film. A 13th disc contains The Brothers Warner documentary about the studio that launched Bogart’s career.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: 35th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition, Warner ($49.99 BD, $39.92 DVD): The Oscar-winning drama starring Jack Nicholson comes packed with more than four hours of extras and an assortment of collectibles.
Shrek: The Whole Story, Paramount ($49.99 BD, $34.99 DVD): Paramount has packaged all four of DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek” films into one neat, compact boxed set, and is releasing it Dec. 7 at a low price. All four films feature hours of new extras, and the gift set also includes the new “Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular” holiday program.
The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition Limited Collector’s Set, 20th Century Fox ($89.99 BD): The classic musical has been meticulously restored and remastered for its Blu-ray Disc debut. New extras include an interactive tour of the movie’s Salzburg filming location, an interview with the real Maria von Trapp, a sing-along, and a full-length documentary about the original stage production, hosted by actress Mary Martin. Fox has packaged The Sound of Music in an oversize, numbered box packed with such goodies as a 100-page scrapbook, a reproduction of the original 1965 souvenir program, a hand-painted “My Favorite Things” music box and a CD soundtrack.
Toy Story: Ultimate Toy Box Collection, Walt Disney Studios ($100): Disney has packaged the new Toy Story 3 with the two original Toy Story movies in a gift set that includes Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digital copy versions of all three films.
24: The Complete Series, 20th Century Fox ($249.98 DVD): Time to toss out all those bulky season sets. This 57-disc package includes all eight seasons of the celebrated TV series. The set includes a bonus disc with a special good-bye from the cast and crew and other extras.
Glee Season One: Gleek Gift Set, 20th Century Fox ($59.98 DVD): The complete first season of the hugely popular TV series comes with all sorts of extras, including a dance tutorial, a sing-along, full-length audition pieces and a music jukebox.
Lost: The Complete Collection, Walt Disney Studios ($279.99 BD, $229.99 DVD): The hugely popular TV series also has completed its broadcast run and is now available in a gorgeous gift set. The pack contains all six seasons of the show, along with more than 30 hours of bonus materials — including a full disc of extras only available in this gift set.
Monk: Complete Series Limited Edition Box Set, Universal Studios ($249.98 DVD): Another great series that is now available in its entirety, this set features all 125 episodes of the popular drama’s eight-season broadcast run.
The Pacific, HBO ($99.98 BD, $79.99 DVD): This HBO miniseries, about the Pacific theater during World War II, won eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries.
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Collection, Image ($39.98 DVD): Wacky Paul Reubens in all his 1980s glory stars in this 11-disc set with all 45 episodes from the Emmy Award-winning comedy series, as well as the cult-fave Christmas special.
Sex and the City: The Complete Collection, HBO ($249.99 DVD): HBO has repackaged the popular TV series, initially released in fuchsia packaging, in a white leather-like case, and tossed in the two movies the series begot, as well.
Thriller: The Complete Series, Image ($149.98 DVD): Fan demand prompted Image to release this classic 1960s horror anthology series, hosted by the legendary Boris Karloff. The 14-disc set includes all 67 episodes, remastered and uncut.
The Tudors: The Complete Series Box Set, Paramount/CBS ($144.99 DVD): Showtime’s expansive history of King Henry VIII’s reign in England is available as a hefty 16-disc boxed set.
America: The Story of Us, A&E ($49.95 BD, $39.95 DVD): The 12-part History Channel series from the creative minds behind “Planet Earth” covers 400 years of American history, from the early explorations and colonizations to the present. The series includes an introduction from President Barack Obama and interview clips with such prominent Americans as newsman Tom Brokaw, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, musician John Legend and actor Michael Douglas.
Baby Einstein Discovery Kits, Walt Disney Studios ($15.99): Baby Einstein, known for its various video programs aimed at infants, this holiday season is launching a new product line to help parents introduce babies to music, nature and animals. Each Discovery Kit — and six different ones are available now, with three more to come in early 2011 — includes a DVD, a music CD and a picture book or set of cards to encourage interactivity between parent and child.
The World at War, A&E ($149.95 BD): What many consider the consummate history of World War II makes its long-awaited Blu-ray Disc debut with not just the 30 hours of original programming — all of which have been restored and refreshed from the original source materials — but also more than 12 hours of bonus features. “The World at War,” narrated by Laurence Olivier, was produced by Britain’s Imperial War Museum in partnership with Thames Television and was broadcast beginning in 1973 on the BBC.