15th anniversary promo to lead up to 10th seg 'Migration'

This article was updated on Aug. 26, 2002.

After 14 years and eight movies in the $1 billion franchise, Universal Studios Home Video is mounting its biggest campaign yet for the “Land Before Time” series of animated video premiere movies based on Steven Spielberg’s original 1988 animated dinosaur theatrical release.

A yearlong 15th anniversary promotion leading up to next year’s release of the 10th episode, “The Great Migration,” featuring the voices of James Garner and Keifer Sutherland, will kick off this fall with the Dec. 10 release of “The Land Before Time: Journey to Big Water.”

Donny Osmond, who sang one of the songs in the Disney movie Mulan, has recorded an original song for Big Water called No One Has To Be Alone that will make its debut on his new “Somewhere in Time” album in late November on the Vivendi-Universal Decca label.

“I liked the way that it turned out so much that it was my idea to include it on my new album,” Osmond said.

The 44 year-old Osmond, who has also voiced an “ultra-uncool” version of himself on Cartoon Network’s “Johnny Bravo,” said that singing for “Land Before Time” is the first thing he’s done that has made his four year-old son think his Dad is cool.

The series has generated sales of more than 50 million copies worldwide, with each of the last several titles selling consistently in excess of 2 million units in the U.S. alone, according to research by Daily Variety sister publication Video Premieres. Last year’s installment sold a little better than the previous year’s title, which caught the attention of U execs.

USHV executive vp, marketing, Ken Graffeo, said the studio brought in focus groups to find out what parents liked about the property and learned that they wanted more product and merchandise available year-round rather than just during the holidays.

When each new generation of kids is introduced to the series with a video at Christmas, they immediately want more. Graffeo said that as families are converting from VHS, there is a growing demand for the series of movies on DVD.

By Easter, Universal plans to have most of the episodes available on DVD, with seasonal pushes for the franchise during the year and repackaged copies of the movies like one planned for “Big Water” that will be the first to include a plush version of one of the dinosaur characters.

Company will stage various “Land Before Time” events at Universal theme parks, introduce merchandise like a “Land Before Time” ear thermometer and create a club named after lead character Littlefoot with newsletters and activities.

Universal has more promotional partners on “Big Water” than any other episode, including Italian eatery Sbarro, Gymboree Play Music Centers, and Jumpstart Educational Software For Kids.

Graffeo would not project how many extra units this additional push will deliver but said the idea is to elevate the entire franchise, not just this year’s movie or next year’s installment, by making it “a lot more available and visible throughout the year.”

“This is the most aggressive we’ve ever been behind this franchise,” he said.

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