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Disney ramps up vid-preem sequel slate

'Cinderella II,' 'Hunchback II,' 'Dumbo' to be released

HOLLYWOOD — With only one animated video premiere title this year in “Lady & the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure,” Disney will make up for lost time in 2002, beginning with the introduction of “Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” Feb. 26 as part of a companywide “Princess Month” initiative.

In an indication of the growing strength of video sequels based on box office hits, the studio will release a second video preem, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame II,” just three weeks after “Cinderella II,” on March 19. Both have a good chance of selling more videos than Disney’s most recent theatrical animated release, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” coming to homevideo Jan. 29 in standard VHS and DVD formats as well as a two-disc collector’s DVD set.

Disney also is about to unleash a torrent of theatrical and library titles on DVD over the next six months, beginning with B.O. hit “Spy Kids” this week and followed Oct. 9 by “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and the studio’s most elaborate DVD ever, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Two weeks later, a 60th-anniversary edition of “Dumbo” comes to DVD, followed Dec. 4 by two 60th-anniversary editions of one of the year’s top box office releases, “Pearl Harbor,” and Dec. 18 by “Scary Movie 2.”

A new director’s cut and three-disc DVD version of “Pearl Harbor” will hit stores Jan. 15, the same date as a 20th-anniversary collector’s DVD edition of Disney’s groundbreaking computer-animated film “Tron.”

While it’s not unusual for a film to bring in more revenue on video than at the box office (Disney collected $125 million this year on the video of “The Emperor’s New Groove,” which grossed $90 million at movie theaters last year), “Cinderella II” and “Hunchback II” each may bring more coin to Disney than “Atlantis” grossed at the box office — even without a theatrical release of their own.

The $82 million B.O. gross on “Atlantis” is the lowest for any Disney animated movie since “The Rescuers Down Under” in 1990.

“Lady II” generated $110 mil in video revenue alone for Disney this year, bettering the more than $98 million Disney collected on “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” last year.

The industry’s biggest triumph, “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride,” sold more than 15 million copies. “The Emperor’s New Groove” shipped 7.9 million video units this year, according to Adams Media Research, compared with nearly 7.2 million units of “Lady II.” Although Disney’s revenue for “Emperor’s” was $125 million, vs. $110 million on “Lady II,” the studio did better with “Lady II” on videocassette ($91.9 million on 6.2 million copies) than the $89 million from 6 million vidcassettes of “Emperor.” “Emperor,” however, had twice as many DVD sales.

The continued success of Disney’s theatrical animated releases is critical to the continued growth of the video-premiere sequels, which depend on awareness of the original theatrical.

“Hunchback II,” for instance, will be a test of the viability of a video sequel to a film that was not a blockbuster.

Delayed from its planned fall release to accommodate the recording of a ballad by Jennifer Love Hewitt, “Hunchback II” features the return of voice actors Tom Hulce, Kevin Kline, Jason Alexander and Demi Moore, among others; Hewitt, Haley Joel Osment and Michael McKean voice new characters.

Jennifer Hale, who plays the voice of Cinderella in cameos on Disney’s cartoon series “The House of Mouse,” will carry that voice part into “Cinderella II,” taking over for Ilene Woods, who originated the voice in the 1950 theatrical release.

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