Walmart will host launch parties for the homevideo release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” at 2,100 stores across the country starting at 11 p.m Friday, featuring appearances from cast members in several cities. The DVD officially becomes available at midnight.
Since 2009, the nation’s largest retailer has hosted such latenight soirees for each of the previous “Twilight” homevid launches, which lured throngs of Twihards into stores.
Hosting the events on a Friday night is a smart marketing move for attracting younger consumers to Walmart’s aisles. But the real reason for the events, of course, is sales. While Walmart has long reigned as the top seller of DVDs and Blu-rays, its business has been hit hard by new digital platforms, which have enabled consumers to rent more rather than buy when it comes to homevideo.
Attracting more buyers in search for exclusives could also result in sales of other products, Walmart hopes, and gives it an opportunity to promote its own digital platforms like Vudu and UltraViolet, which it supports.
Naturally, Walmart wants to hold onto its bragging rights and sales clout with Hollywood’s studios, and the midnight events are seen as another way to boost sales figures at launch.
“Twilight” has been the top-selling homevideo franchise since the first discs hit retail in 2009.
First-day sales increasingly are being eyed as a way to determine a disc’s overall success and guarantee a retailer better exclusives when it comes to future homevid releases.
“When it comes to entertainment, Walmart is the destination for new movie releases, video games, music and more,” said Seong Ohm , senior VP and general manager of entertainment for Walmart U.S. “We’re excited to give the millions of ‘Twilight’ fans a place to unite, celebrate and receive exclusive ‘Breaking Dawn’ collectibles at a great price.”
Four separate “Twilight” DVDs are set to bow this weekend, with exclusive versions of the final two films spread out among Walmart and Target.
For “Twilight,” Walmart will hand out free mini-sets of all five theatrical posters while supplies last, and offer a two-movie set with the “Part 1” extended edition and the “Part 2” film and commentary.
Further, cast members from the last two “Twilight” films, including Lisa Howard, Patrick Brennan and Marlane Barnes, will visit stores in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and St. Louis to greet fans.
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are not expected to make appearances.
In 2009, Summit Entertainment said it wanted to create the events with retailers as a way to “say thank you to all of those who came out in droves last year and helped make Stephenie Meyer’s characters and story a truly successful movie,” said president of home entertainment, Steve Nickerson. “While many DVDs street on Tuesdays, the Friday night launch party allows the core fans, many in high school, to celebrate outside of the school week.”
Walmart isn’t alone with its midnight madness.
Best Buy also has opened its doors at midnight to host launch parties for videogames like Activision Blizzard’s juggernaut gaming franchise “Call of Duty.” So too has GameStop at its 4,400 outlets, which also hosted events for “Halo 4.” Toys R Us and FYE also have held latenight events for “The Hunger Games” homevideo releases with the same intention of attracting younger buyers to exclusive versions of the discs and entice them to return for other products down the line.
And while “Twilight” has left the megaplex, Walmart is still expected to continue hosting more midnight events in the future. It’s succeeded in attracted younger buyers to its stores that it doesn’t want to stop finding new ways to lure them back.
Walmart hosted similar parties for the first “Hunger Games” homevid launch and is expected to continue doing so with Lionsgate-Summit behind that series, as well.