‘Titanic’ sets sale

Studio to put $50 mil behind 'Titanic' launch

Paramount Home Video execs said Monday they’ll spend more than $50 million to market the homevideo release of “Titanic,” making it the vid industry’s largest campaign.

The studio, which is handling the domestic vid bow, is anticipating that the wide-ranging promotional blitz, which also includes a pair of promotional partners, will score an estimated 3 billion consumer impressions during a five-month period. (Par’s “Titanic” production partner, 20th Century Fox, will handle the international vid sales and will unveil its promo plans later.)

“It will be the most aggressive and active video marketing campaign in this industry’s history,” said Jack Kanne, exec veep of sales and marketing for Par Home Video. “It will be a campaign that certainly is befitting the most successful movie of all time.”

Cameron control

James Cameron, the film’s Oscar-winning director-writer-producer, said he spent hundreds of hours selecting the way “Titanic” would be transferred to homevideo.

He said the version set for the Sept. 1 bow is different from that sent earlier this year to members of the Motion Picture Academy to select Oscar nominees and winners.

Cameron also said the more-than-three-hour film would not immediately offer a director’s cut on video, as the version being offered was the definitive vision. But he left open the possibility that in the distant future the vid may be updated with additional footage.

Par execs said the studio would not pull the film from theaters in advance of the vid release; it has grossed $1.7 billion in global box office (nearly $600 million domestically) since its bow 25 weeks ago.

” ‘Titanic’ will continue playing as long as people continue to go see it,” said Par Motion Picture Group vice-chairman Rob Friedman.

Early launch

By setting a Sept. 1 bow, “Titanic” vid marketers will also test mostly uncharted industry waters by making the tape available before the Labor Day holiday.

Conventional wisdom suggests that because sales of albums and videos are typically soft during the summer months, and pick up after school is in session (usually by the middle of September), it is typically safer to wait until later in the month to bow big-gun releases.

Retail execs note that consumer traffic may increase right around the holiday, but most shoppers are spending money on such necessities as clothes and back-to-school supplies, not on entertainment.

Kanne said the pre-Labor Day bow will give the studio a jump on the entire holiday season. “Our goal is total ‘Titanic’ awareness,” he said.

But vid industry insiders suggested the pre-holiday date also gives Par a month-long, distraction-free marketing window before being impacted by Sony Pictures’ “Godzilla,” which is expected to make its vid bow in early October and will compete with Par for consumers’ attention and retail shelf space.

Record sales possible

None of the many Paramount execs present at Monday’s elaborate press conference held in the lobby of the studio’s theater would make any sales predictions, though retailers believe “Titanic” is capable of selling more than 20 million units during its run. It would have to sell more than 18 million units to top 20th’s “Independence Day,” the live-action sales leader.

Par Home Video prexy Eric Doctorow said that the studio expects to ink additional tie-ins with the distributors of the “Titanic” soundtrack (Sony Music Soundtrax) in an effort to add another promotional element. He also said the studio had not yet firmed up plans for the DVD, Divxx or Laser Disc release of “Titanic.”

“Titanic” will also be the first title released to sell-through as a double set.

It will not carry a suggested list price, but will carry a $19.95 minimum advertised price. Mass merchants such as Wal-Mart and Target will likely sell the tape for a few dollars less than that price.

The vid bow will be touted with an 11-week advertising campaign that will kick off in mid-August and continue through to the end of the year utilizing web, cable and syndicated TV spots and a massive print campaign in major general-interest publications.

Marketing partners

“Titanic” sales will be aided by tie-ins with Sprint and Max Factor, with both companies providing print and promotional support to supplement the studio’s campaign.

Sprint will also offer a voucher to consumers who join the long-distance carrier to cover the cost of purchasing a “Titanic” vid — up to $22. If a consumer has already purchased the vid, Sprint will reimburse them for the cost of the video.

Sprint, which recently backed the Rolling Stones’ tour and did movie ticket tie-ins with “Godzilla,” will back its “Titanic” effort with an aggressive complement of print and TV ads, direct mail and online ads, as well as in-store promotions at more than 5,000 Radio Shack stores.

Max Factor will tap into the romantic aspect of the story by offering a cosmetics line evoking the many moods of Rose, the lead character played by Kate Winslet.

The cosmetics giant has created a Tina Earnshaw collection, named after the film’s makeup artist, who received an Oscar nomination for her effort.