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Home Entertainment : 'Mrs. Doubtfire' Video Selling Like Wildfire

May 06, 1994|DENNIS HUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FoxVideo underestimated "Mrs. Doubtfire."

Initially, the company shipped 8 million cassettes of the Robin Williams comedy to video stores, but that wasn't nearly enough.

"It turns out that we need 10 million and the total may wind up at 12 million," says Bruce Pfander, FoxVideo's senior vice president of marketing. "This all took us somewhat by surprise."

Now FoxVideo is scrambling to keep up with the unexpected demand. How did the miscalculation happen?

Part of the problem apparently stemmed from the fact that there were still a lot of people wanting to see it for the first time; the film was still showing in some theaters when it debuted on video last week. "They went to the video store instead," Pfander said. "This situation doesn't happen often in the business, so it's hard to gauge."

In addition, the relatively inexpensive price helped attract extra hordes of customers. Normally a movie like this would sell for $25 and be discounted to $16-$18 in many places. But "Mrs. Doubtfire" is priced at $20 and therefore available in the $13-$14 range.

FoxVideo's biggest fear is shortages in the next two weeks--people showing up at stores only to find that the tape is out of stock. "These next two weekends are crucial," Pfander said. "In the sales market, you normally get 85% of your sales in the first four to six weeks. If a store is out of stock, some people may not come back."

Videobits

June 29 will be one of the biggest days of the year on home video. Three major movies come out in time for the July 4 weekend: Columbia TriStar's "Philadelphia," starring Tom Hanks in his Oscar-winning role and Denzel Washington; Warner's "The Pelican Brief," starring Washington and Julia Roberts, and MCA/Universal's "In the Name of the Father," a nominee for the best picture Oscar.

When Disney recently announced that "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" will be released Oct. 28, the big surprise was the price--$27, about $2 higher than most movies geared to the sales market. There will be a rebate, though, through a promotional tie-in, which should help defray the cost.

Industry observers knew that "Snow White" would be out before Christmas but everyone was curious about how far away it would be from the Oct. 4 "Jurassic Park" release date. By the time "Snow White" is out, the furor over MCA/Universal's "Jurassic" will have died down somewhat.

Special-Interest Videos

According to the experts, "Your Baby: A Video Guide to Care and Understanding" is an informative tool for first-time parents, hosted by child development authority Dr. Penelope Leach. From Sidney Place Communications Inc., $30; (800) 877-0597. . . . Mainly geared to travelers, the fascinating documentary "Vietnam: Land of the Ascending Dragon" shows the glamorous, intriguing side of this country. At $25, from International Video Network, (800) 767-4486. . . . For soccer fans revving up for the World Cup tournament, a PolyGram collection comes out May 17, including "The Official Preview," "Top 50 World Cup Goals" and "Great World Cup Superstars" priced at $15 apiece. . . . Also on May 17 from PolyGram, the two-hour concert movie by the rock band U2, "U2: Zoo TV Live From Sydney," priced at $20.

What's New On Video:

"A Perfect World" (Warner): Many Kevin Costner fans steered clear of this drama because their idol, usually the glamorous hero, plays a loser--a blue-collar convict on the run. Tracked by a Texas Ranger (Clint Eastwood, who also directed) and a criminologist (Laura Dern), the fugitive bonds with his hostage--an 8-year-old boy (T.J. Lowther).

"The Remains of the Day" (Columbia TriStar): A melancholy tale of the consequences of emotional repression. In 1930s England, a staid butler (Anthony Hopkins) stoically stifles his feelings about his naive pro-Nazi employer (James Fox) and an appealing housekeeper (Emma Thompson). Garnered a passel of Oscar nominations, including best picture, actor and actress--all well-deserved.

"Ruby in Paradise" (Republic): Searching for a new life, young Ruby (Ashley Judd) heads for "paradise"--a cozy Florida town--and winds up as a trinkets saleswoman who gets involved with two very different men. It's a modest, decent film with a terrific performance by Judd.

"Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (Warner): Based on the TV cartoon series, this animated feature plays better on the small screen because of its simplistic TV-style animation. It nicely captures the dark, eerie spirit of the Batman myth and features an exciting finale. Adults can enjoy it along with the kids.

"Ernest Rides Again" (Monarch): Parents would love to see Ernest (Jim Varney) ride off into the sunset forever but he just won't go away. Kids love this lovable moron because he's an overgrown kid himself. In this adventure he finds some jewels and is chased around by both cops and crooks. As idiotic as the others in the series.

Upcoming

"Addams Family Values," "The Three Musketeers," "Orlando" and "Into the West" (Wednesday); "A Dangerous Woman," "RoboCop 3" and "Look Who's Talking Now" (May 18); "The Return of Jafar" (May 20); "The Piano" and "Rudy" (May 25); "Short Cuts" (June 1); "Wayne's World 2" and "My Life" (June 8); "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective" (June 14); "The Getaway" and "The Air Up There" (June 15); "Six Degrees of Separation," "Geronimo: An American Legend" and "Tombstone" (June 22); "Iron Will" (June 29); "Grumpy Old Men," "Romeo Is Bleeding" and "House Party 3" (July 6); "Heaven and Earth" and "Car 54, Where Are You?" (July 13); "Beethoven's 2nd" (Aug. 9).

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