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Bevy of BV videos

Hit toon sequels lead '98 direct-to-video slate

Buena Vista Home Entertainment will bow five direct-to-vid pics this year, marking its largest slate of releases in the format.

Two new Walt Disney film sequels will tentpole the effort, beginning with the Aug. 4 bow of “Pocahontas: Journey to a New World,” followed by “The Lion King: Simba’s Pride,” which will hit store shelves Oct. 27. The titles will retail for $26.99.

The studio is prepping major promotional campaigns for the vids, with the “Pocahontas” tape being heralded with a national ad plan involving web and syndicated TV, radio and print blurbs targeting women and families.

Fast food tie-in

A fast food tie-in is also being developed to buffer the in-store presence and a $7 rebate offer from Mattel.

“Having built a strong consumer base for these films over the past few years, we will now release our most ambitious slate, with what we believe are our greatest creative achievements yet in direct-to-video movies,” said Mitch Koch, G.M. of BVHE.

Disney’s 1997 direct-to-video slate was highly successful, and included “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas,” which was one of the top 10 bestsellers of 1997.

Perennial successes

The studio continues to reap huge returns on the vid release of its animated perennials “Sleeping Beauty,” the 30th anniversary version of “The Jungle Book,” “Aladdin” and The Lion King,” all of which have become vid chart staples.

The direct-to-vid kid market has expanded over the past two years with the entrance of Disney and Universal Home Video, whose successful “Land Before Time” series has found much favor among families.

Disney’s “Pocahontas” follow-up, set in London, will offer six new songs and the voice talent of Irene Bedard (Pocahontas) and David Ogden Stiers (Ratcliffe), who worked on the original, and newcomers Donald Gibson (John Smith) and Billy Zane (John Rolfe).

“The Lion King” vid continues the circle of life in the Pridelands as Simba’s heir to the throne comes of age, and also features six original songs, plus the return of the first film cast led by James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Matthew Broderick (Simba), Nathan Lane (Timon) and Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa).

‘Kiki’s’ debuts in summer

BV will also debut in the summer “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” its first animated film from director Hayao Miyazaki. Video is about a teen witch voiced by Kirsten Dunst.

Also on the boards is “Mowgli’s Story,” the prequel to Disney’s animated “The Jungle Book,” which will have a spring bow; and “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit,” a vid based on an original Ray Bradbury short story and play.

“Suit” is directed by Stuart Gordon (“Re-Animator” and “Fortress”), and tells the story of five down-on-their-luck young men who pool their last $100 to buy one magical suit that they hope will transform their lives. It premieres at the Sundance Film Festival today. It has been invited to a number of other festivals, according to BVHE execs.

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