Homevid deal means B’way goes to retailers

Four BTN-produced tuners released a year

Broadway musicals like “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical” will be coming to retailers like Kmart and Wal-Mart through a new five-year home video deal between Broadway Television Network and GoodTimes Entertainment.

The deal calls for GoodTimes to release four BTN-produced live-in-performance Broadway musicals per year on VHS and DVD beginning this fall. “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical, starring David Hasselhoff,” will be the first title on Sept. 11, followed by “Smokey Joe’s Cafe — The Songs of Lieber & Stoller” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting it Together,” a musical review starring Carol Burnett, George Hearn, John Barrowman, Ruthie Henshall and Bronson Pinchot.

The videos previously have been available exclusively online at www.BroadwayOnline.com, a subsidiary of BTN.

BTN records the performances in front of paying audiences using high-definition digital cameras and masters them in Dolby E 5.1 surround sound. The company earlier this year taped the last seven performances of “Jekyll and Hyde,” for instance, to produce that title.

BTN was created to produce events derived from Broadway musicals for distribution on cable and satellite pay-per-view, home video, Internet video-on-demand, cable and broadcast television. It has already distributed “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” via PPV. Putting it Together will show on PPV later this year.

GoodTimes president Bill Sondheim (cousin to Stephen Sondheim), previously built a sizable business in performing arts titles at PolyGram Video (now USA Home Entertainment), with such shows as “Cats” and “Lord of the Dance.”

Big auds out there

“I believe there is an enormous genre in performance events on video,” said Sondheim. “There is a mainstream audience that wants to buy culture,” he said, referencing VideoScan research showing that titles like “Cats” sell well in upper Midwestern areas far from New York and Los Angeles. He estimated that GoodTimes’ first three Broadway titles will sell close to one million units combined.

“Jekyll and Hyde” will be priced at $29.95 on DVD and $24.95 VHS, only slightly more than its hefty $19.95 PPV pricetag. “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” was $24.95 on PPV and reportedly drew just 50,000 purchases.

Sondheim said that the titles will generally premiere on PPV, then hit VHS and DVD about 60 days later. The equivalent of $3 million to $4 million is spent on marketing the PPV event, yet relatively few people order on PPV, Sondheim said, making the case that video sales can benefit from the PPV promotion.

(Marcy Magiera is the editor of Variety sister publication Video Business.)

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