U, D’Works to launch ‘Soldiers’ promo blitz

This army will be inescapable

Kiddie actioner “Small Soldiers” is coming not only to a theater near you but to a theme park, a burger chain and a slew of auto racetracks too.

Beginning June 29, visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood will get to see some of the sophisticated special effects used in the Universal/DreamWorks co-production. The behind-the-scenes experience will include computer animation setups and “live” appearances by the film’s characters, with narration by lead player Phil Hartman. Visits to two soundstages and original sets from the movie will be part of the package.

In addition, DreamWorks Consumer Products said Tuesday it had contracted to establish a special motorsports promotional program to help push the film with summer racetrack audiences around the country.

“Soldiers,” director Joe Dante’s vision of toy warriors gone amuck, opens July 10, and is counting on heavy merchandising to help bring profits home. The film will be distributed domestically by DreamWorks and internationally by Universal.

Many elements of the film — which will blend live action with state-of-the-art computer animation — will be included in what the U theme park is calling an “exclusive, hands-on experience of high-tech movie magic.” The tour will feature the film’s animatronic designs and effects from the Stan Winston Studio, which helped put together Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park.” CGI effects are by Industrial Light and Magic, under the supervision of Stefan Fangmeierr, David Andrews and Kim Bromley.

DreamWorks’ consumer products division has teamed up with Performance Companies Inc. and Joe Gibbs Racing for a cross-promotional “Soldiers” tie-in using racecars painted with the movie’s logo and characters, recalling a similar tie-in with another DreamWorks picture.

“We had great success with last year’s program for ‘Jurassic Park’ and we feel the Nascar fans will likewise embrace ‘Small Soldiers,’ ” said DreamWorks consumer head Brad Globe.

The cars will be raced in Daytona Beach, Fla., on July 4; in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on July 11; in Morrison, Colo., on July 19; in Sonoma on July 26; and, on Aug. 2, in Seattle.

Action Performance will market die-cast toys, apparel and other souvenir items in conjunction with the races. Other items tied to “Soldiers” will be produced by toymaker Hasbro, Penguin Putnam, Landoll’s, Tiger Electronics, ACI Intl. and Fruit of the Loom. Promotional partners include Burger King, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Travelodge.