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The sequel to "The Lion King" went straight to video

Straight-to-video: It's not an insult anymore

Web posted on: Friday, October 16, 1998 3:27:54 PM

From Correspondent Dennis Michael

HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- It wasn't long ago that movies sent directly to the video market were considered flops, so bad they weren't worth time on the big screen.

But the times are changing. Video is now the most profitable industry, and more studios are opting for the direct-to-video release, particularly when that release is a sequel to a proven hit.

"It works because the consumer is hungry for the continuation of the story," says Michael Johnson, president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. "And that hunger is satisfied with the acquisition of the video and the repeatability in the home, and the concept of a great film with great stories, a lot of the original cast intact along with the voice talent -- it all comes together and creates an event that works for the consumer."

The sixth installment of "The Land Before Time" is in video stores

Looking for quality product

"The Lion King II -- Simba's Pride," "Pocahontas II," and the follow-up to "Aladdin" were all considered video hits for Disney.

Universal Studios have a sixth "Land Before Time" installment headed for home video in the near future, and the current big-screen hit "Antz" will get a video sequel. The idea of going straight to video no longer has a second class connotation, industry officials say.

"They're really attracted to the property, to the subject matter and the talent associated with the property," says Louis Feola, president of Universal Family and Home Entertainment Production. "And the trade also doesn't have any prejudice, pro or con. All they're looking for is a quality product."

And the made-for-video market is not just limited to animation.

Made-for-video sequels are on the way for "K-9" and "Dragonheart." Recently released video sequels included "Addams Family Reunion," "Tremors Two: Aftershocks," and "Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves."

It's not only for cartoons: "The Addams Family Reunion" went straight to video

Cost matters

"From the studio perspective, the cost to make and market a direct-to-video title is probably only a third that for a theatrical title, and they can bring them out faster as well," says Jeffrey Eves, president of Video Software Dealers Association. "For the video store and the consumer, they're dealing with a known commodity, the characters are already developed and the story line is already down, so they're going to know they're going to like it."

Not only do production companies save money by going the video route, but they also have more potential to make money, judging by recent numbers from the industry.

"In the U.S. it's well over a $15 billion business," says Feola. "Compared to the motion picture industry, it's about $10 billion more, and it's about $3 billion more than the music industry at retail."

That's plenty of reason to forget there ever was a big screen.

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