KidScreen Retail: Lost World and Men in Black weigh in for home video competition

The heavyweights of the summer movie season are squaring off for a rematch in the home video arena....
November 1, 1997

The heavyweights of the summer movie season are squaring off for a rematch in the home video arena.

Columbia TriStar’s Men in Black and Universal’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the number one- and two-ranked box-office hits from 1997, are about to clash for supremacy again when the titles are released on home video this month. The Lost World will be released on November 4; Men in Black on November 25.

Each studio will support its respective release with comprehensive marketing and promotional campaigns that will make holiday shoppers as familiar with T-Rex and Agents J and K as Santa and Rudolph.

The two summer hits are expected to fuel a robust fourth quarter in the home video market that will also feature the debut of such summer blockbusters as Batman & Robin, Con Air, Face/Off, George of the Jungle and My Best Friend’s Wedding, and the direct-to-video Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.

As opening weekends are critical to movie releases, the first few weeks of sell-through are critical to the success of home videos. ‘It’s when the bulk of your business comes in,’ says Nancy Harris, vice president of marketing at Columbia TriStar Home Video. ‘Displays will typically stay up two to three weeks. After you start to lose your displays, there’s definitely a slowing of business.’

Studios may be casting glances at the rival releases coming out for the holiday season, but they are making sure to leave enough breathing room between major debuts to maximize exposure for each title. ‘It isn’t to any studio’s advantage to put something out at the same time,’ says Charlie Katz, senior vice president of marketing at Universal Studios Home Video. The three-week spread between The Lost World and Men in Black provides a window that should work to both studios’ advantage for the holiday season, as well as balance out retail excitement, he adds.

In the case of these two films, an overriding factor is Steven Spielberg, who directed The Lost World and executive produced Men in Black. ‘We have to be sensitive to the release date [of The Lost World] because of Steven Spielberg,’ says Harris. ‘It’s important to him that there be some spread between the two titles.’

Universal expects The Lost World to equal or exceed sales of Jurassic Park, which sold over 17 million units and ranks as the fifth highest-selling video of all time. The film will have a suggested list price of US$22.98 and a minimum advertised price of US$14.95.

The Lost World will be backed by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign that began October 27, a week before the video’s street date, and will run through the holiday season. Advertising will hit all possible venues, from network TV to on-line, print to painted buses. Universal expects that its advertising mix will reach 98 percent of households 22.5 times, creating over 8.5 billion impressions by the end of the holiday season.

Tropicana, which was a promotional partner for the theatrical release, and Discover Card, which signed on exclusively for the home video release, will run rebate and sweepstakes offers.

In-store promotion will include limited-edition packaging that will feature a removable 3-D Dino-Motion card, and specially designed POP displays that will allow retailers to create their own Lost World environments. For example, Universal has created a special motorized standee for Wal-Mart in which a T-Rex pops up. Similar displays have been designed for Kmart, Target and other stores.

Retailers are reordering Lost World licensed product in conjunction with the home video release. ‘Retailers think that this is still a very significant [property] and that the home video release will get a lot of new energy out there,’ says Katz.

Columbia TriStar’s Men in Black home video promotion plan is the most ambitious in its history. Harris expects sales of Men in Black to exceed that of the studio’s previous best sellers, Jerry Maguire and Jumanji. The minimum advertised price is US$15.95.

The studio will begin its advertising campaign on November 25, the street date for the video. Columbia TriStar will roadblock spots on all major networks that evening. The campaign, which will feature a variety of humorous spots targeting different demographics and day parts, will run for three weeks, with additional media in reserve if the studio feels it is needed. Columbia TriStar estimates that its advertising will make over a billion TV impressions, reaching 97 percent of homes eleven times.

Ray-Ban, a promotional partner for the movie, continues as a partner for the home video release. The video will include a rebate for Ray-Ban sunglasses, and Ray-Ban will offer a coupon for Men in Black with the purchase of sunglasses. Videos will also be sold at Sunglass Hut stores.

In-store POP will feature standees of the film’s stars, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The video will be packaged in rainbow foil wrapping. The Will Smith ‘Men in Black’ music video will be included as a free bonus on the video. In addition, a CD-ROM game from SouthPeak Interactive will be released in the fourth quarter.

The Lost World and Men in Black will also be available in special formats, including VHS widescreen and laser disc.

The contenders

The Lost World:
Jurassic Park
Men in Black
Studio:UniversalColumbia TriStar
Theatrical Release Date:May 1997July 1997
Theatrical Box Office (Domestic):*US$228 million+US$240 million+
Theatrical Box Office (International):US$328 million+US$221 million+
Home Video Release Date:November 4, 1997November 25, 1997
Suggested Retail Price:US$22.98None
Minimum Advertised Price:US$14.95US$15.95
Other Formats:VHS widescreen, laser discLaser disc, DVD and VHS widescreen
Advertising Begins:October 27, 1997November 25, 1997
Promotional Partners:Tropicana, Discover CardRay-Ban
PPV Window:90 days60 days

*box office as of October 6, 1997

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