'MULAN' LEADS DISNEY VIDEO SLATE

BURBANK, Calif. -- "Mulan" and a rerelease of the animated version of "101 Dalmatians" will highlight the first-quarter sell-through slate from Buena Vista Home Entertainment here."Mulan" was the big Disney animated hit last year, grossing $120 million at the box office. It will street on Feb. 2 and prebook on Dec. 15; "101 Dalmatians" was last out on video in 1992. It will street on March 9 and prebook

BURBANK, Calif. -- "Mulan" and a rerelease of the animated version of "101 Dalmatians" will highlight the first-quarter sell-through slate from Buena Vista Home Entertainment here.

"Mulan" was the big Disney animated hit last year, grossing $120 million at the box office. It will street on Feb. 2 and prebook on Dec. 15; "101 Dalmatians" was last out on video in 1992. It will street on March 9 and prebook on Jan. 26. Both will have a suggested retail of $26.99.

Market research showed high consumer satisfaction with "Mulan," noted Mitch Koch, senior vice president and general manager of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, North America. "We know that 'Mulan' overdelivered as a film. We think it is the perfect demographic for supermarkets," he said.

"'Dalmatians' has an incredibly deep vein of consumer love as a franchise. To bring the quality and integrity of that entertainment to a supermarket environment is going create huge traffic, high sales and a wonderful opportunity for an in-store entertainment event that creates some real excitement in the aisles," he said.

The Buena Vista announcements are significant not only because the products usually do well in supermarkets, but also because they come well in advance of other studios' plans, allowing more lead time for retailers, industry observers noted.

"We know that getting the information out early is a critical element for grocery as it relates to the planning of in-store events and coordination with our promotional partners," Koch noted.

Tie-in promotions for "Mulan" include a $10 rebate from Energizer, a free hard-cover storybook from Grolier, and joint advertising with McDonald's. On "101 Dalmatians," cross-promotions include a dog bowl, clip and scoop set from Nestle's Alpo, a free "101 Dalmatians" ornament from Grolier and a $2 in-pack coupon good on other Disney titles.

A third key title is "Sign a Song With Pooh Bear," streeting Feb. 23 with a prebook of Jan. 12 and a suggested retail of $14.99. Tie-ins include a McDonald's promotion, a $2 freestanding insert coupon from Hershey's good with the purchase of this title, another Pooh video and Hershey's product, and a Grolier Parenting Newsletter mailing with envelopes and coupons with the theme of the title.

"We've lined up the promotional partners to really execute against these events," said Koch. "It's a great time to add excitement and entertainment to an experience that needs to be fresh for the frequency that supermarket shoppers come into those stores.

"We see that the video category remains very healthy and vibrant. As we have done historically, we have provided a very solid release schedule [and] our retail partners can count on us to maintain the health and vigor of this category."