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Target’s ‘Hunger Games’ merchandise goes high-end

Walmart, Costco, Best Buy also offer exclusive items for DVD launch

To sell more DVDs and Blu-rays, retailers long have lured customers into their stores with exclusives. But for the homevideo launch of “The Hunger Games,” Target hopes to hit the bullseye by going high end.

It will sell a 14-carat gold reproduction of Katniss Everdeen’s Mockingjay pin for $999, a replica of her leather hunting jacket for $349 and a lithograph signed by pic’s cast, including Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, for $699.

All three will only be available on Target’s website, beginning midnight Aug. 18, with only 100 of the pins and lithographs, and 100 jackets available over three days.

In stores, the company will sell more traditional movie merchandise — from backpacks and lunchboxes to jewelry, pillow cases and life-size cardboard cut-outs of the film’s characters — with prices starting at a more manageable $7.

But with the pricier items, Target was looking for a stunt to stand out from its rivals and tell consumers that “we’re bound and determined to be the destination for ‘Hunger Games,'” especially after the books and film “truly captivated the nation,” John Butcher, VP of Entertainment at Target, told Variety.

Butcher said the items are aimed at “devoted fans” of the books and new film franchise who are looking for collectibles that let them own “a piece of movie history.”

By giving Target the rights to sell the items, Lionsgate also has secured itself a major retail partner to boost an already strong ancillary biz. The first of four planned films has earned $684 million at the worldwide box office, with sales of Mockingjay pins alone expected to generate more than $15 million this year for Lionsgate.

The more expensive products mark the first time Target has offered licensed entertainment merchandise at a premium pricepoint. It was able to secure the exclusives through an ongoing partnership with Lions-gate, which covers the franchise’s future films, as well.

That naturally includes the homevid release, which Target is offering as a three-disc deluxe edition of the DVD and Blu-ray, packaged in a collectible case, featuring 45 minutes of exclusive content, including personal video diaries filmed by the movie’s seven main Tributes and interviews with the cast about the experience.

“We’re delighted to partner with Target on this innovative and integrated campaign that offers their guests unique merchandise and video content,” said Ron Schwartz, Lionsgate executive VP and general manager of home entertainment. “These collectibles and bonus footage immerse fans in the world of ‘The Hunger Games’ and will help them celebrate ‘The Hunger Games” status as a unique and memorable event.”

Target will promote the higher-end items through a TV campaign rolling out in the coming weeks, as well as its circulars and other marketing efforts. The DVD and Blu-ray also will get high-profile displays at the company’s nearly 1,770 stores “to make sure ‘Hunger Games’ is a destination at Target,” Butcher said.

The “Hunger Games” product push also signals Minneapolis-based Target’s renewed focus on the entertainment category, through merchandise, events and talent partnerships, the company said, that also includes promoting “Twilight” with midnight events at its stores and pairing up with Julie Andrews for “National Princess Week.” In the past, it also offered additional tracks on CD releases.

“Target is a place for entertainment lovers,” Butcher said. “For us, it’s important to make sure we provide product to our guests that they can only find at Target.”

Target already is seeing some of its strongest sales numbers for pre-orders of “The Hunger Games” discs — the DVD is priced at $22.99, with the Blu-ray selling for $26.99.

But Target is only one of the retailers offering exclusives for “The Hunger Games'” homevid launch.

Walmart is bundling the DVD and Blu-ray with a Mockingjay pendant and downloads of bonus content, including looks at the stunts and fashions from the pic through Vudu. Best Buy offers its own limited edition collectible with its two-disc combo packs, while Costco is theming its boxed set around the film’s District 12 with bonuses, including a necklace. Prices range from $21-$45.

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