‘American Tail’ videos return to stores

U Home Video readies $15 mil marketing campaign

Kicking off an aggressive release slate of direct-to-video films, Universal Studios Home Video will lift a six-year sales moratorium on its “American Tail” series and reintroduce the line with a $15 million marketing campaign.

The offering of the Universal/Amblin-produced pics will be followed by a pair of new direct-to-vid releases tapping into the franchise and led by “American Tail III: The Treasure of Manhattan,” which will bow in the fourth quarter.

The fourth installment of the “Tail” franchise is expected to bow next June.

The films, “An American Tail” and “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West,” have been digitally remastered and will be backed with an extensive marketing campaign which also ties in the vidarm’s sister companies, such as theme parks. The tapes will be relaunched Aug. 11.

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“We looked at the marketplace and saw a window of opportunity that would allow us to launch this major reintroduction of the (‘Tail”) brand,” Louis Feola, prexy/CEO of Universal Family & Home Entertainment Prods. told Daily Variety.

“An American Tail III” is the lead-off pic released under Feola’s recently formed production arm, which is dedicated to creating direct-to-vid pics for the studio.

Feola said the mandate of the new production arm “is to create the same value and success for ‘An American Tail’ as the studio did with the ‘Land Before Time’ (series).”

Other pics in the works under Feola’s aegis include additional installments of the successful “Land Before Time” franchise, “Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein” and a slate of live- action films.

Parents say ‘yes’

Universal’s research suggests that 72% of parents with children ages 3-11 and 81% of those with 4- to 11-year-olds would purchase “An American Tail” video. The recognition is high despite the vids’ absence from the marketplace.

“This campaign will also be a tentpole for going into the (vaults) and re-releasing our popular catalog product that may have been (underexploited) in the past,” said Bruce Pfander, exec veep of Universal Studios Home Video.