ATLANTA -- With a big party for their customers here at the Atlanta History Center, MGM Home Entertainment, Santa Monica, Calif., and Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif., announced the release of "Gone With the Wind" for the first time at a sell-through price.
The title had previously been released for the rental market and sold 1.5 million units with a suggested retail price of $89.98. Streeting on Oct. 27 with a SRP of $26.95 and a minimum advertised price of $19.95 for both VHS and DVD, the title has been digitally re-mastered and restored using the original source elements. Nearly 13 minutes of film, once believed to be irreparably damaged, have been restored in the process. Order dates are Sept. 29 for the double-cassette VHS package and Sept. 22 for DVD.
"Gone With the Wind" has strong appeal to women and, therefore, to supermarket buyers as well, noted John Quinn, Warner's senior vice president, sales. "It is the perfect title for grocery because the target consumer for 'Gone With the Wind' is the female shopper age 25 to 45, the identical consumers that are in grocery stores," he said.
Factoring in inflation, "Gone With the Wind" is the highest-grossing movie of all time by a wide margin, said Blake Thomas, MGM's senior vice president, marketing. Total U.S. box office revenues for the title are $1.3 billion, adjusted for inflation, compared to $566 million for "Titanic," which is due on video Sept. 1. "It has sold more theatrical tickets than any picture in history," said Thomas.
Following its initial release in 1939, "Gone With the Wind" won 10 Academy Awards. The movie was re-released in movie theaters this summer, Thomas noted. "The theatrical release was designed to set the stage for the video release this fall and it was successful in doing that," said Thomas.
While it was in theaters, exit polls indicated that 61% of those who saw it preferred "Gone With the Wind" to "Titanic," noted Mike Saksa, director of marketing for features, Warner Home Video. Of the sell-through movies due out later in the year, "Gone With the Wind" ranked third in purchasing intent, behind "Titanic" and "Lion King 2: Simba's Pride," he said.
"Gone With the Wind" was originally produced by MGM but is now owned by Warner due to Turner's 1986 purchase of the MGM library and the subsequent Warner-Turner merger. It is being released under the MGM label, and both MGM and Warner are working together to market the title.
As a result two of the five cross-promotional partners are supermarket products: Blue Diamond Almonds and Healthy Choice popcorn. Blue Diamond is offering the "Gone With the Wind" soundtrack for $5 with the purchase of the video and its almonds. Each "Gone With the Wind" purchase will include a coupon good for a buy-one-get-one-free offer on Health Choice popcorn, while a $2 rebate on the video purchase and a sweepstakes entry blank for a trip to the South will be included in 2 million Healthy Choice popcorn packages. Other cross-promotional partners are Visa, Day Runner and Rhino Records.
Total marketing spending will be $20 million, said Saksa, and over 2 billion advertising impressions are planned. There will be two free-standing inserts, one from Blue Diamond and the other from Healthy Choice. Also, "we will have significant co-op and market development funds available to you," he told the retailers and distributors in attendance.
The two studios have set a sales goal of 8 million units, said Robert Wittenberg, MGM's senior vice president, sales.