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'Mohicans' Audiotape Is Part of the Deal

September 10, 1993|DENNIS HUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"The Last of the Mohicans," a smash in theaters and as a rental, figures to be a popular sales item now that the price has been dropped, as of Wednesday, for its introduction into the retail market.

But there's an extra that may turn off some potential buyers.

The new price for FoxVideo's "Mohicans" is $25--but for a package that includes an audiocassette of the movie soundtrack. However, video customers who don't want the soundtrack are out of luck. The movie is for sale in this package only.

Selling a movie exclusively this way is a video industry first--and not without risk. Some customers may balk at spending a few extra dollars for a soundtrack they don't really want. To many, it will seem like a scheme to palm off surplus soundtrack tapes on "Mohicans" fans.

Without the soundtrack, the price would have been $20, said FoxVideo marketing vice president Mike Dunn--certainly more palatable to potential buyers.

Also, the $25 price is a bit steep for a new sales-market movie these days. Most have a top suggested retail of $20 and are discounted by as much as $5. "This is an upscale movie for an upscale audience, so we felt the higher price wouldn't be a problem for most buyers," Dunn explained.

This packaging is partly a reflection of the stores that are prominent in the video sales market these days. "So many of those outlets also sell music, so packaging a video with a soundtrack doesn't seem out of line," he said. "We pitched this idea to a number of these outlets, and they thought it was a great idea. If we were just dealing with video rental outlets, this would never work."

The package's gift appeal, Dunn noted, is in its favor: "With Christmas coming, people may buy it as a gift, even though they wouldn't buy it for themselves."

Why didn't FoxVideo sidestep potential hassles and also offer the movie separately?

"This package is sort of an experiment, so we're forcing the issue," he replied. "If the movie was also offered without the soundtrack, most people would take it that way. This way we'll get a feel for how well this kind of package can do."

If FoxVideo reaches its sales goal, which Dunn said is 500,000 units, similar packages would certainly follow. "We have other movies, like some musicals, that would lend themselves to be packaged with soundtracks," he said. "This could be the start of a whole marketing trend."

National Geographic

Placing non-theatrical tapes in video outlets has never been easy, because retailers prefer to stock movies. But National Geographic Video, which releases documentaries originally telecast on the PBS and TNT networks, has discovered a way to market its tapes--package them in themed, boxed sets.

Reported company president Todd Berman: "Stores like the K marts and the Walmarts--stores that sell rather than rent videos--want to stock the sets. We want to get our tapes in those stores. That's apparently more attractive to consumers. We do what's necessary to get our tapes on the market."

To accommodate demand, National Geographic has just released the three-volume "The Lost Ships Collection," with a four-volume nature set, "The Predators," due Oct. 13. While suggested retail is $80, the discount houses will offer them for much less.

What's New on Video:

Here are some recent releases:

"El Mariachi" (Columbia TriStar, no set price). Made for $7,000 by 24-year-old rookie filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, this is a surprisingly well-made thriller, done B-picture style--full of violent, nonstop action. About a mariachi (Carlos Gallardo) in a Mexican town who's mistaken for a killer, it has a very low-budget look, which is part of its charm. In Spanish, with subtitles.

"This Boy's Life" (Warner, no set price). In a small Washington town in the late '50s, a nomadic mother (Ellen Barkin) and her teen-age son (Leonardo DiCaprio) settle down for a few years when she marries a boorish bully (Robert De Niro). How they deal with his abuse makes for a consistently absorbing survival drama, which is bolstered by exceptional performances.

"His Brother's Keeper" (Fox Lorber, $90). A riveting, atmospheric documentary--among the best of the last few years--about the aftermath of an apparent mercy killing that becomes a murder rap. Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky focus on the poor, elderly farmer from Upstate New York who's accused of killing his brother in 1990 and the community that rallies around him and his eccentric family. Even if you shy away from documentaries, check this one out--and you won't be sorry.

"Map of the Human Heart" (HBO, $93). An entertaining, visually stunning romantic drama, covering three decades, about the anguish of both cultural assimilation and obsessive love. It starts in the early 1930s, with an Arctic Eskimo (Jason Scott Lee) being transported to Canada and meeting the object of his obsession (Anne Parillaud of "La Femme Nikita"). Directed by Vincent Ward, it features knockout World War II bombing sequences.

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