'Jurassic' video blitz will be monstrous

September 22, 1994|By David Kronke | David Kronke,Special to The Sun

Steven Spielberg's dinosaurs are hardly sated. After earning nearly $1 billion in theaters worldwide, they will stampede to video stores on Oct. 4 with the heady goal of making "Jurassic Park" not only the highest-grossing movie in history, but the best-selling videocassette.

To that end, an ambitious campaign costing $65 million -- roughly the film's original production budget -- and involving numerous cross-promotions begins full-tilt this week and will not relent until mid-January 1995. By the end of the marketing campaign, more than 8 billion "consumer impressions" will have been disseminated, and the average person will have heard of the "Jurassic Park" video more than 25 times.

" 'Jurassic Park' is more than a movie being released on videocassette," says Louis Feola, president of MCA Home Video Inc., explaining why so much effort is being expended on a title that would seem able to sell itself.

In other words, don't think of this advertising onslaught as just hawking one videocassette. Think of it as enticing you to see any potential sequels and ride the probable ride at Universal Studios.

In case you've just been thawed out from a block of ice dating to the Paleolithic Era, "Jurassic Park" is Mr. Spielberg's blockbuster adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel about an eccentric scientist (Sir Richard Attenborough) who creates a theme park stocked with dinosaurs created from fossilized DNA. When the park is visited by scientists Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Malcolm's Chaos Theory is brought to vibrant life as the dinosaurs begin a savage search for their next meal.

During its theatrical release, "Jurassic Park" grossed more than $900 million worldwide. It spawned a record 1,100 pieces of ancillary marketing and won three Academy Awards for its technical brilliance.

It will sell for $24.98 on videocassette, with letter-boxed laser discs (available Oct. 12) going for $44.98 or $74.98 (the more expensive disc offers sundry special effects).

Disney's animated "Aladdin" is the all-time best-selling video release, with an estimated 24 million copies sold. Its marketing plan was considered the most expensive before that of "Jurassic Park."

Since July, radio and cable TV ads have been running for the "Jurassic Park" video. A barrage of network TV ads will trumpet the film's video release beginning this week, and they will run through January. Stores taking orders for the cassette are offering a free poster of the original designs for the dinosaurs by special-effects wizard Stan Winston.

Other promotional tie-ins include:

* A cross-over commercial campaign with Jell-O.

* Commercials for "Jurassic Park" products from Kenner Toys and Tiger Electronics, which mention the video as well, join the mix in October.

* In November, McDonald's commences its giant ad campaign involving rebate coupons for purchase of "Jurassic Park."

* Ocean of America will tout its "Jurassic Park" video game.

"Jurassic Park" is expected to invade more retail space than any previous videocassette. While the average rental title is distributed to 27,000 to 32,000 locations, "Jurassic Park" will be for sale "in not less than 75,000 locations," Mr. Feola says. He adds that the surplus will come primarily from drugstores and supermarket chains that usually do not sell videos.

For the most part, competing releases have steered a wide and respectful berth of the behemoth's release date, with a few notable exceptions. Disney's first animated classic, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," is due later in October. It will be followed by MCA/Universal's own "The Flintstones" in early November and 20th Century Fox's "Speed," which Fox last week elected to rush into the marketplace in mid-November.

Team "Jurassic" remains unconcerned.

"The awareness and anticipation in purchasing 'Jurassic Park' is as high as it has ever been for any title," says Andrew Kaircy, senior vice president of marketing and sales for MCA/Universal. "The market has matured and grown to the extent that there is room out there for more than just two or three titles."

Although "Jurassic Park" will hit video stores with plenty of hoopla, it won't come with any added material on the video, an increasingly common phenomenon in the video world. Many tapes released today include a brief making-of trailer and even added scenes that were shot but cut from the theatrical version. (For example, one might ask, whatever happened to that ailing triceratops that Laura Dern's character befriended?)

"There will be plans to continue marketing product in 1995," Mr. Feola says, suggesting that there could be future versions of the movie to come to video. "It may very well entail a 'making-of' program. That marketing is still in development."

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