After failing to attract audiences to what it is calling “the best reviewed film of the year,” Warner Bros. said Monday it hopes to make “The Iron Giant” a winner on video Nov. 23, backed by a revamped multimillion-dollar marketing campaign.
The animated pic about a boy and a giant robot, was a hit with critics, the Internet and the audiences that saw it, but was a major disappointment for Warner Bros. at the B.O., generating $20 million.
Studio and execs and industry observers blame the poor performance, in part, on pic’s ad campaign, which didn’t appeal to kids or their parents.
Taking another shot at the market, Warners will simultaneously release pic as both a rental VHS and sell-through VHS ($22.95) and DVD ($24.98) title.
The new marketing campaign, reported to dwarf the theatrical efforts, will feature new package art and spread across print, broadcast, online and in-store arenas.
The DVD will feature a 22-minute making-of docu, musicvid by Eddie Platt, trailer and biographies, as well as posters, puzzles, screen savers and links to chat rooms and bulletin boards on the Web.
Warner Bros. is hoping the vid will outperform its B.O. and become one of its bestsellers of the fourth quarter. Traditionally, family pics perform better in the homevid market than they do in theaters.
It won’t be smooth sailing for “Giant” on homevid, however. Disney has long dominated the family homevid segment with its classic animated titles and plans to begin releasing them on DVD this year.
Warners’ homevid division denied talk that it was feeling pressured by the studio to make the pic a success on homevid.
“The only pressure I’m feeling is from myself,” said Dan Capone, veep of family entertainment marketing and development. “We know there’s a lot of potential for it. The only pressure is from the public.”
The rental and DVD titles will feature packaging and art separate from the sell-through VHS edition, with the latter featuring box art that appeals more directly to families and kids ages 6 to 11. The sell-through title will come with an action figure as well.
The DVD and rental packaging will attempt to reach a broader audience — teens, animation fans, adults. Theatrical art will not be used in the campaign.
Besides partnerships with General Mills’ Cheerios, Best Western and ACT II popcorn, the Cartoon Network, among others, Warners also plans to push the title on the Internet, with America Online offering consumers a $3 downloadable rebate, hosting a contest and featuring banner ads.
“To reach kids you have to get them in school, online, at the store, on radio, everywhere they are,” Capone said. “They’re not just spending enough time in front of the TV anymore.”