'Narnia' to drop anchor at 3,000 locations

Supermarkets have become an increasingly important venue for studios to sell their films, with 20th Century Fox set to up its presence in grocery stores for the homevideo release of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

Starting Friday, a large replica of the ship in the pic will drop anchor at the entrance of 3,000 supermarkets nationwide that are owned by Kroger, Safeway, SuperValu, Giant Eagle and H-E-B. Overall, the homevid will be promoted at 6,000 stores operated by those companies, which include the Ralphs, Fry’s, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and Smith’s brands.

Displays will feature the film along with products from promotional partners including Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Pepperidge Farms and Little Debbie that signed on just to back the homevid.

The presence won’t replace high-profile distribution deals for the “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” at big-three retailers Walmart, Target and Best Buy, which will push their own exclusive versions of the disc. But as studios look to make a bigger splash with each of their upcoming homevid releases and turn their launches into events, it’s tough to ignore the millions of consumers that shop at supermarkets, especially parents eager for opportunities to entertain their families.

Supermarkets aren’t complaining, having already seen a boost in sales thanks to the installation of cheap DVD rental kiosks from companies like Redbox, and moving their DVDs from locked cases to more prominent displays at cashiers and in the frozen food aisle, near dessert items.

“There are over six million shoppers a day that will see the Dawn Treader ship as they enter their local grocery store,” said Mary Daily, executive VP of marketing for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “Our intention is to engage the active mom and her family with a clear, unique and impactful experience.”

Fox is hoping that targeting the latest “Narnia” pic at its core audience will help sell more discs and beat previous releases, which were handled by Disney.

The third “Narnia” has earned $104 million at the domestic B.O. and nearly $307 million overseas since December. First film is said to have earned around $350 million in the U.S. from multiple versions of its homevid release, alone, since 2006.

Timing of new “Narnia” promo comes as Easter follows Thanksgiving as the second biggest holiday for grocery stores when it comes to sales.

Fox’s move into supermarkets also follows the studio’s successful roll out for the “Avatar” discs at such retailers last year.

For that release, stores set up front-of-store displays that featured employees in blue face paint to resemble the Na’vi creatures from the film. In-store bakeries also created cakes and cupcakes to celebrate the launch.

The “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” displays will be set up at the same number of stores that pushed “Avatar,” but the “Narnia” promo will have a larger footprint in stores, with the towering ships taking up as much as 3 feet by 8 feet of floor space.

The reason is that the success of “Avatar’s” disc sales enabled Fox to negotiate a larger presence for future releases and explore innovative opportunities.

“Avatar” sold three times the number of discs that an event title typically moves at grocery stores. Overall, “Avatar” earned 14% of its sales from grocery and drug stores. Films traditionally earn up to 6% from such outlets. Of course, “Avatar” was an anomaly both at the B.O. and retail, with its massive $2.8 billion worldwide haul.

Still, displays like that for “Narnia” are becoming more commonplace, with retailers demanding more exclusives like special product or in-store boutiques built around an entertainment release.

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