NEW ALADDIN TITLE EXPECTED TO STEAL SUMMER SPOTLIGHT

A $70 million marketing campaign for a new direct-to-video movie, featuring a tie-in with General Mills, has captured the attention of retailers. "Aladdin and the King of Thieves," from Buena Vista Home Video, Burbank, Calif., will release Aug. 13. It is the third movie in the animated series that started with the theatrical hit "Aladdin" and was followed by the direct-to-video, "The Return of Jafar."

A $70 million marketing campaign for a new direct-to-video movie, featuring a tie-in with General Mills, has captured the attention of retailers. "Aladdin and the King of Thieves," from Buena Vista Home Video, Burbank, Calif., will release Aug. 13. It is the third movie in the animated series that started with the theatrical hit "Aladdin" and was followed by the direct-to-video, "The Return of Jafar." Priced at $24.99 and starring Robin Williams, who returns as the voice of the genie -- he was not in "Jafar" -- the title promises to be the biggest sell-through of the summer, said observers. Retailers are cheering the big marketing campaign by increasing their orders on the title. "I think it really makes a difference," said Jamie Molitor, director of video operations at Dierbergs Markets, Chesterfield, Mo. The return of Robin Williams also is an important consideration to the retailers. "I think it is going to do better than 'Return of Jafar' just because Robin Williams is in it," said Molitor. "With Robin Williams in it, it seems that it will be a natural," said Clifford Feiock, video coordinator at Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis. The marketing spending is also a factor in Nash Finch's purchasing decisions, he noted. "When Disney spends that kind of money, it is noticed. They always do a good job on it and I can't think of a time when it hasn't had a major impact," said Feiock. One problem with the new Aladdin title is getting art work to use in a store that helps determine the buy, he said. "We've got the materials for Disney product through the end of the year, but on this one title, we have nothing," he said. "I'm doing a pretty aggressive buy on it," said Randy Weddington, video specialist at Harps Food Stores, Springdale, Ark. Harps is working closely with its Disney sales representative and its video distributor, WaxWorks Video Works, Owensboro, Ky., to increase its merchandising activity on behalf of the title, he said.

Through an upcoming meeting, "we're going to have some of our other departments in and we will try to do a little more with the General Mills cross-promotion," he said.

While the big marketing campaign contributes to Weddington's buying decision, "the biggest factor is really our Disney sales rep. He worked very well with us on the 'Pocahontas' and 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' promotions and now we are building on that. I expect big things," he said.

The $70 million marketing campaign includes spending by Disney, General Mills and McDonald's. National television, print and outdoor advertising will be part of the program, as well as a large publicity effort.

Other Disney divisions, such as Publishing and Theme Parks, also are planning activities around the video release.

With the General Mills cross-promotion, consumers can get a $5 mail-in rebate by purchasing "Aladdin and the King of Thieves" and three boxes of Big G cereals, 7-ounces or larger.

An additional $5 rebate will be offered to consumers who buy the "Aladdin" movie and one other eligible tape, either from Disney's Masterpiece Collection, Family Film Collection, or "The Return of Jafar," "Goofy" or "The Brave Little Toaster."