LOS ANGELES -- There's more to sell-through in the fourth quarter than big hits. While retailers will move lots of copies of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Jurassic Park" and "The Flintstones," sell-through has grown into a market that is much broader than children's and family products, said Glen Ross, senior vice president of marketing at Republic Pictures Home Video. "Retailers who assume that every person who walks into their store is only interested in three titles are doing themselves a major disservice. They are going to turn away the millions of people who don't want those three titles," Ross said. For example, "you have tens of millions of people who enjoy classic films who will be giving those movies as gifts to other adults at Christmas," said Ross. There are also many people who have decided that "Jurassic Park" is too violent for their young children who will be looking for other videos to purchase, he said. Retailers should think about what will happen at the end of the fourth quarter when they might have to return what doesn't sell of the big three titles, he noted. As an alternative, Ross said, "the retailers could take in a number of these titles to service the market, but also service their other customers with other product. They can sell it and not have to return it because the other product is evergreen." Some classic movie products that Republic offers include a line of John Wayne movies and "It's a Wonderful Life." "With our product, if it doesn't sell at Christmas, it will sell in January," he said. "There's a lot of good product out there that, if it is repositioned and displayed, it will sell. It's classic product. It's product that people want to own," Ross said. Retailers had preordered 1.2 million units of the John Wayne movies, which come in a 48-piece display and with a life-size standee of Wayne, he said. "That number is amazing, but what is more amazing is we've had re-orders of close to half a million units. That means it is selling through. It is a very viable product," said Ross. The John Wayne movie "The Quiet Man" is getting close to a million units, he noted. "We keep repositioning it in the marketplace, creating new customers for retailers with new packaging, anniversary editions, making-ofs and lost footage," he said. Republic will market "It's a Wonderful Life" in three different packages during the fourth quarter, Ross said. There will be a deluxe collector's edition with a suggested retail of $59.98 that will include the video cassette, a book, a "making-of" tape, behind the scenes photos and reproductions of original artwork. There will also be a deluxe anniversary edition for $19.98 that will include the movie and the "making-of" video on a single tape along with the artwork. The basic movie will be available at a $14.98 suggested retail. The company has also put out a compact disk/read only memory version of "It's a Wonderful Life," he said. Viewers can simply watch the movie or they can call up particular scenes, particular songs, read the script, read about the actors or play a trivia game. "We are closing a deal now to do several more of our classic films on CD-ROM," he said.
A sell-through line that does especially well in supermarkets is the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" line, said Ross. "Hallmark is truly a phenomenon in the marketplace. It's a franchise and what should particularly interest supermarkets is that it is female-oriented. It is the mother in the household who is buying the Hallmark product," he said. Of the Hallmark titles, "The Secret Garden" has sold over one million units, "Sarah Plain and Tall" has sold about 700,000 units, and several other titles have sold about 350,000 units each, he said. "We don't get any returns on this product. If you put it out in a supermarket, the customers are going to pick it up," he said. On the rental side, Republic will release "Texas," based on the James Michener novel, on Nov. 9. The two-tape, four-hour movie is being released direct to the video market. It has a suggested retail price of $99.98, but until the pre-order date of Oct. 19, the suggested retail will be $49.98, said Ross. Under terms of an agreement with the ABC television network, "Texas" will not show on TV for a minimum of 90 days after the video release. " 'Texas' is unique in the marketplace because the only place you will be able to see this movie is on videocassette," he said. At $12 million to $13 million, "it has the highest production budget of any film that has ever been released direct-to-video." Republic's merger with Spelling Entertainment added about 15,000 hours of programming to the company's library, Ross said. Both companies are owned by Blockbuster Entertainment, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.