Hoping to keep the homevideo fires burning after “Aladdin” is pulled from retail shelves, Walt Disney will release its first made-for-video animated “sequel,””The Return of Jafar.” The video will be released under the recently formed Walt Disney Home Video Presents banner, a shingle designed specifically for the direct-to-video marketplace.

“We believe there is a great opportunity in producing and releasing Disney product exclusively for video,” said Ann Daly, president of Buena Vista Home Video. “We intend to deliver a stream of unique, quality productions that will include original as well as Disney character-driven programs.”

Daly says the new banner may also help counter criticism that made-for-video fare is typically “also-ran” product.

“We hope this will dispel the idea that made-for-video are films that were never good enough for (theaters) so they went right to homevideo. The quality of these products should convince anyone that’s not the case here.”

Although the studio has released a number of shorter TV tie-ins to its films, such as the follow-up to “The Little Mermaid,” Daly notes that the “Jafar” vid was developed as a full-length film, yet specifically designed for the small screen. “It was meant to be enjoyed on the small screen,” Daly said, “and I’m sure everyone will be quite impressed with the (animation) quality.”

Although the release slate for the new banner has not been firmed, Daly says “Jafar” will be the only original production released this year. Other vids are being developed, but none is in production. “There are a lot of good concepts being developed right now, which we (anticipate) will be among our releases next year.” Daly declined to comment on budgets for the vids.

Although Disney will stop its shipments of “Aladdin” to retailers after April 30, 1994, Daly says “Jafar” will motivate consumers to keep the popular film in mind. The homevideo picks up where the movie story left off, with the evil sorcerer Jafar trapped inside a magic lamp.

“The Return of Jafar” will be released May 20, backed by an extensive marketing push and supported by rebate-driven tie-ins with Pillsbury and Mattel.

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