CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Another "event" sell-through video title originally thought to be pencilled in for the early part of next year has been announced for this fourth quarter.
"Matilda," a family-oriented title starring Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, will be released direct to the sell-through market Dec. 17 by Columbia TriStar Home Video here. The title has a minimum advertised price of $15.95, but no suggested retail price, an unusual but not unprecedented strategy. The pay-per-view window will be 90 days.
"I expect good things out of 'Matilda' here," said Randy Weddington, video specialist at Harps Food Stores, Springdale, Ark. "Family product is going real well for us," he said.
Clifford Feiock, video coordinator at Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis, said his children are excited about the release and the timing could work for Christmas gift-giving.
"There will be the last-minute shoppers looking for something for the kids. This title should certainly fill the gap, so I look for big things from it," he said.
But Bill Glaseman, video specialist at Bashas', Chandler, Ariz., said the timing of the release could prove difficult. "That may be a tough one for us because it's right at the very busiest season and so many other things will be out there," he said.
"I sure wish they had announced it in mid-August," said Rick Ang, buyer at Video Mart, Sacramento, Calif., which racks video departments in 17 Bel Air supermarkets in the Sacramento area. "For the grocery business, it's kind of late to get something in for the Christmas season," he said.
"But we are going to try and squeeze it in. We are going to try to bring in some floor displays and do some ads. But I don't think we will give it as much exposure as we could have had we known about it a little earlier," he said.
"Matilda" is the third movie based on books by children's author Roald Dahl to be issued this fourth quarter. The others are the re-issue of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" from Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif., Oct. 1, and "James and the Giant Peach" from Buena Vista Home Video, Burbank, Calif., Oct. 15.
While intrigued by the potential of cross-merchandising the titles, few retailers will do it. "The problem is, they are from three different studios and a lot of times, it is tough to get them to help with anything like that," said Feiock.
"I don't think there is big customer awareness out there of Roald Dahl, at least not in this area," said Weddington. "Also, the three films are really not that similar, so I doubt that we will do much about tying them in."
Ang sees the potential for putting a promotion like that together after the holidays, perhaps including the books, as well. "You put it together as a reading and video cross-promotion," he said.
A highlight of the promotional support for "Matilda" will be ads featuring Danny DeVito, who directed the movie and starred in it, said Tracey Colona, director of marketing for Columbia TriStar Home Video. "Not only is he pitching the film, but he also talks about why you would want to own this film on videocassette," she said.
The marketing campaign for "Matilda" will make a total of 350 million impressions. Other elements will include television ads, a Cartoon Network promotion, a radio campaign using Columbia TriStar's "Radio Jeopardy" promotional vehicle and cross-trailering on other video titles, such as "Jumanji" and "The Baby-Sitter's Club."
There will be a "healthy margin" built into the $15.95 MAP, said Colona. Slim margins between cost and MAP on hit sell-through titles are a frequent concern of retailers, said industry observers.
At the time "Matilda" comes out in mid-December, "it will be alternative programming to other titles that are out," she said.
"By putting it out on the 17th, it will be available in stores for the Christmas rush. Our television advertising kicks in around Dec. 22 to really push the products through into the first quarter. We feel like we've found the perfect spot for it," she said.