HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- The biggest box office movie of all time will soon be playing in supermarkets.
"Titanic," which had grossed $581 million domestically by a recent count -- it was still on weekly top 10 lists last week -- will be released to home video on Sept. 1, priced for the sell-through market. The two-tape set will have a minimum advertised price of $19.95, no suggested retail price, a 90-day pay-per-view window and an order date of July 28.
Paramount Home Video will team with Sprint and Max Factor to market the title. Sprint, Kansas City, Mo., will offer a rebate that will essentially buy the movie for consumers. Retailers will get to keep the difference between their selling price and the $22 credit offered people who switch their long distance service to Sprint. Max Factor of Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati is designing point-of-purchase materials that will have a cross-promotional impact in many supermarkets. In addition, Max Factor will offer a book, "James Cameron's Titanic," with a suggested retail of $20, free to consumers who buy the video and $10 in cosmetics.
Retailers contacted by SN for the annual Video Roundtable project, conducted before the announcement of tie-in partner details, were enthusiastic about the giant hit's potential for both sell-through and rental.
"It's going to have a huge impact on sales," said Brad Ufer, video merchandiser, Coborn's, St. Cloud, Minn. "It will also be a good tape for rental, although the market will be flooded with them," he said.
"That's going to really stimulate some business," said Gary Schloss, vice president, general merchandise, Carr Gottstein Foods, Anchorage. "You are going to find us and probably every other video retailer in the country buying multiple, multiple copies." He agreed that it will generate strong rental revenues in addition to sell-through.
"It can't be anything but good," said Greg Rediske, president, Video Management Company, Tacoma, Wash., which buys for and services the video programs in about 250 stores. "A huge hit like that just brings people into the stores. I can think of nothing but positives that will come from it."
A Paramount official said the company has yet to determine its release plans for "Titanic" for the DVD or Divx formats. "But if it comes out day and date, that could be a real boon to those involved in DVD," said Rediske.
"I think everybody will want to own it," said Brenda Vanover, video coordinator/merchandiser, K-VA-T Food Stores, Grundy, Va. If it comes out on DVD, it could help create the market for that format, she noted.
"If they bring it out day and date, it could be a big shot in the arm for DVD sales and rentals," said Kirk Mueldener, director of video operations, Hy-Vee Food Stores, West Des Moines, Iowa. "It could be a major turning point for the DVD market." Furthermore, the title, which appeals strongly to women, is a perfect fit with supermarkets' demographics, he added.
Michael Arkin, Paramount's senior vice president of marketing, said there are four reasons why "Titanic" will be an especially big video title in supermarkets.
For one, "this is the biggest movie of all time. Any time you have an event title of that stature, it creates business for all classes of trade, including supermarkets," he said.
Second is the predominantly female demographic of supermarket shoppers. "Although this film appeals to all segments of the market -- a film couldn't become the highest grossing film of all time without appealing to all segments of the market -- specifically, it was the female target that went to see this movie again and again and again. So for supermarkets, where the majority of customers are women, it's a natural," said Arkin.
Third is the opportunity presented by the Max Factor tie-in. "Max Factor is sold in many of the same venues as video, and chief among them is supermarkets. We believe that there is an opportunity for cross-aisle promotions and account-specific add-ons through Max Factor's sales efforts," he said.
Finally, many people went to see "Titanic" who hadn't been to the movies in 10 years, said Arkin. "If that reasoning follows, people who have never bought a video will buy 'Titanic' and hopefully a lot of them will be supermarket shoppers who don't go to the more traditional video outlets," he said.
Combined marketing spending will be more than $50 million and will generate more than three billion consumer impressions over a five-month period extending into the holiday selling season, he noted.
It will be Paramount Home Video's largest advertising campaign ever and the largest marketing campaign ever for Max Factor. The 194-minute movie is rated PG-13, and the videocassettes will be encoded with the Macrovision anti-copy process.