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Everything but a trail of crumbs to lead kids to film

October 14, 2002|ROBERT W. WELKOS

When you're not Disney, marketing a family film can be tricky. Just ask Tag Entertainment's Jonathan Bogner and Steve Austin, producers of "Hansel & Gretel," an independent, live-action movie opening Friday in Los Angeles and five other U.S. cities.

With a target audience of children 6 to 11, the filmmakers came up with a novel promotion to reach kids in school.

They struck a deal with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department whereby deputies who regularly visit some 220 area schools to conduct their STAR (Success Through Awareness Resistance) after-school anti-drug classes, also hand out free "Hansel & Gretel" pencils and movie fliers. In return, the producers are donating a new Chrysler PT Cruiser to the STAR program.

Tag Entertainment is also offering to donate $1 to each local PTA for every "Hansel & Gretel" ticket stub that children and their families return to their schools.

At the same time, the company has forged promotional ties with such retail outlets as Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Mrs. Fields Cookies and Rite Aid stores. Bogner said Krispy Kreme, for example, will give a free doughnut to any child who comes in with an A on his report card.

Bogner describes the film as a "fractured fairy tale" based on the classic story by the Brothers Grimm but with contemporary dialogue. "Everyone is familiar with the evil stepmother taking the kids to the forest and abandoning them," Bogner said. "In our version, the stepmother is captured by a troll and, as punishment, is forced to watch reruns of 'Designing Women.' "

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ROBERT W. WELKOS

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