Warner Home Video will release the hit pic “The Fugitive” to homevideo as a sell-through title with a multimillion-dollar promotional campaign and lengthy pay-per-view holdback.

The film earned a whopping $ 180 million during its U.S. theatrical run, stoked by its $ 23.7 million opening weekend and six-week stand as the top box office draw. Retailers note the film’s big box office has helped make their anticipation of the homevideo release almost as strong as their hopes for the impending arrival of “Jurassic Park.”

WHV execs say the title’s huge sales potential is confirmed by an “impressive intent to purchase” level, scoring higher than other box office bonanzas such as Par’s “The Firm” and Warner Bros.’ “The Bodyguard.”

The label will promote the suggested $ 24.95 release with a series of TV ads on network and cable outlets nationwide, working in tandem with an aggressive print ad campaign. Street date is March 22.

Sale, rental success likely

Homevideo observers expect the title to do well in both the sell-through and rental marketplaces, noting the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

“It may not be a 10 million copy seller, but even if it does just half that number, everyone will make money on it,” said Ken Dorrance, owner of the Video Station, a retail chain in Northern California. “Being out on sell-through first is not going to hurt its rental (potential) one bit.”

For example, “Aladdin” was both a very successful sell-through and rental title, often simultaneously ranking at the top of the sales and rental charts. Consumers that did not purchase the pic helped make it a top title through repeated rentals.

In addition to the extensive support WHV will give retailers on “The Fugitive ,” the vidarm will woo consumers into purchasing the vidcassette with a $ 5 rebate off its sale price.

Consumers who purchase any one of eight recent WHV titles, including “The Bodyguard,””Free Willy” and “Unforgiven,” will be eligible for the rebate. To ensure strong retail orders, WHV will withhold the homevideo from PPV for 90 days, preventing the title from airing in that venue until June 20, 1994.

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