Disney steps up sell-through vid plans

Walt Disney Home Video has turned up the volume on the already competitive homevideo business by scheduling one vid bow each month throughout the year.

The schedule, billed as its most powerful release slate ever, will fill retail bins with live-action pics, videos from the vaults and new releases including a Winnie the Pooh offering.

The massive promotional release plans, set to kick off in April, include an incentive program to encourage consumers to snap up the entire line. The Disney Video Rewards program is the industry’s first sell-through promotion program offering consumers free videos.

Pooh tuner

The eagerly awaited musical “Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin” will debut in August and will be tied to a rebate program and a unique jelly jar promotion with Welch’s.

The lineup will also include a visit to the vaults for the return of “Sleeping Beauty” and the bow of a special anniversary edition of “Mary Poppins.”

The studio will also release the series of “Herbie the Love Bug” pics, and Disney’s ninth animated offering, “Fun and Fancy Free,” in a restored 50th anniversary edition of the Jiminy Cricket-narrated tales.

The reward program will allow consumers who purchase eight of the 12 vids on the slate to earn two free videos by returning to Disney a card sporting specially marked stickers from the purchased tapes. A purchase of eight of the titles earns one free video.

U gears up

The Disney slate will compete head to head with an aggressive schedule of products from all studios, but most notably Universal Home Video, which has stepped up its direct-to-video production output and will offer a re-cord number of titles during the year.

Universal will bow the latest installments in its “Land Before Time” adventure franchise, as well as animated ver-sions of its popular “Hercules” and “Xena” syndicated TV shows.

The studio is also planning to bow an enhanced version of “Dune.”

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