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ATTENTION GRABBERS

videobusiness.com
January 19, 2004
Byline: Scott Hettrick

As we head into about six weeks of intense Hollywood awards programs, video stores have few of the most likely winners on their shelves.

The two versions of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will probably be coming in August and November again this year.

No word at all yet on Cold Mountain or high-profile candidates Master and Commander and The Last Samurai.

That just leaves dark horse Seabiscuit and likely animation winner Finding Nemo, both of which have been in stores since last year.

That means store owners have the challenge of marketing smaller titles garnering critical attention. Fortunately, there are plenty of them, including last week's release of Swimming Pool, this week's release of Spellbound and Open Range and next week's release of Capturing the Friedmans and Thirteen. But the only titles on the calendar after that are a trio of releases on Feb. 3, Under the Tuscan Sun, American Splendor and Lost in Translation.

Of course, many of the awards shows feature TV programming as well.

But with the exception of two new season sets of Friends and the second season of Frasier, there aren't even very many new TV season sets coming out to ride the wave of awards exposure, unless you count Paris Hilton being named as the worst dressed celebrity just before this week's DVD release of The Simple Life.

With many of the studios having rushed out so many of last year's biggest theatrical films in time for the holidays, there aren't even many more of those coming until you get to a sprinkling of relatively strong performers like Spy Kids 3-D on Feb. 24, School of Rock on March 2, The Matrix Revolutions on April 6 and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 on April 13.

But unlike those in the movie exhibition business who are completely reliant on a steady flow of big new hits, the home video market has the luxury of a plethora of product to fall back on when the major new theatrical titles are in a downswing.

In the coming weeks, stores can promote all manner of new-to-DVD classic and modern TV series, from such titles as Lost in Space, Gilligan's Island, Kung Fu and Starsky and Hutch to MTV's Punk'd, Star Trek: Voyager and CSI.

If that's not enough, turn your customers to special editions and/or first-time DVD releases of classic films coming up such as Alice in Wonderland, Planet of the Apes, My Fair Lady, The Ten Commandments, The Grapes of Wrath and the Pink Panthercollection.

And then there is the category of programming most unique and exclusive to video stores, DVD premiere movies.

Universal has put its biggest push yet behind last week's live action DVD premiere movie Bring It on Again, and Disney will do the same with the Feb. 10 release of The Lion King 11/2 and the March 9 release of Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo.

There are no less than three dozen live action movies making their world premiere exclusively in your stores, including family-friendly titles like this week's MXP: Most Extreme Primate and star-filled comedies like this week's Chump Change and next week's Comic Book: The Movie.

Scott Hettrick (shettrick@reedbusiness.com) is editor-in-chief of VB.
LOAD-DATE: January 22, 2004


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