Paramount's Australian import, " 'Crocodile' Dundee," will swagger into video stores in August at $29.95 -- a price much lower than most new video releases but still a few dollars higher than anticipated. Paramount had been expected to shave a few additional dollars off the price by selling ad space on the tape, a strategy it pioneered earlier this year with "Top Gun," which touched down at $26.95 with a 60-second commercial for Diet Pepsi in tow. Consumers apparently valued the savings more than they minded the intrusion -- "Top Gun," which topped all of last year's movies at the box office, sold more than 2 million copies on tape to become the most popular videocassette ever. "Dundee," at No. 2 on last year's box office list, and the highest grossing foreign film in the United States to date, was a likely candidate for similar treatment, and had reportedly attracted sponsorship interests from the Australian Board of Tourism, for which Dundee himself, Paul Hogan, is the spokesman. But no terms could be agreed on, probably because the Aussies realized that the movie is a 90-minute ad for Down Under whether they kick in or not. They weren't the only ones said to be interested in getting a piece of the Croc, but Hogan's other job -- as spokesman for Foster's Lager -- ruled out a bunch of likely but competing prospects.
You Watch, They Pay
Hollywood is looking more like Battle Creek every day. HBO Video is offering a new coupon-and-rebate program that sounds like something lifted straight off a cereal box. Viewers who rent "Hannah and Her Sisters," "Something Wild" and "Three Amigos!" can get $5 back by pasting stickers they get with each rental onto coupons published in People magazine and USA Today. "Hannah" hits stores this week, followed by "Something Wild" in July and "Three Amigos!" in August, so the biggest challenge may be just keeping track of the coupon for three months.
Eric Kessler, the HBO executive who dreamed up the deal, is one of a growing number of video executives who come to the business with packaged-goods pedigrees; he lists the launches of Snuggle fabric softener and Sunlight dishwashing liquid among his credits. "Whatever the product, whether it's detergent or videocassettes, you're just trying to get the consumer to give it a try," Kessler says. He predicts that such strategies will become more common with both video and theatrical releases, and points to the Glad Bags-sponsored cash reward on the current "Million Dollar Mystery" as the shape of things to come on the big screen.
Appropriately, the movie that may benefit the most from the promotion is the most standard Hollywood-formula movie of the trio: "Three Amigos!," a classic of the big name/big budget/big bore comedy genre. It's just the kind of movie that viewers claim they won't watch unless they are paid to. Now we'll see if they're bluffing.
'Prairie Home' Video
Walt Disney Home Video is coming to the rescue of the cable-deprived who weren't able to watch the "Prairie Home Companion" finale last weekend. The Disney Channel has been broadcasting Garrison Keillor's performances since March, and now Disney's video arm will make some of that material available on cassette. First up is the finale itself, which will be out on video in one month. In addition to the farewell episode, the $29.95 cassette will contain behind-the-scenes footage that was not broadcast on cable; according to a Disney spokesman the camera crew was "running tape from the moment they got there." Also in the works are three "Best of Garrison Keillor" tapes featuring material from the other 16 "Prairie" episodes Disney recorded this spring. Release dates aren't set yet, but they'll all be priced under $30.
Another cable entry, "How to Raise a Street Smart Child," struck a chord among parents who watched it during its limited run on HBO last year; it comes to video in August priced at $9.95. Based on the 1984 book of the same name by Grace Hechinger, the 43-minute program offers 10 tips on teaching your child self-protection, using a mixture of dramatizations and child-on-the-street interviews. Daniel J. Travanti hosts the program, which includes an appearance by Michael Walsh, an abducted child's father, whom Travanti portrayed in the TV movies "Adam" and "Adam: His Song Continues."
Fathers and Teens
Just in time for Father's Day, Arnold Palmer throws his golf cap into the home video ring with a two-volume series called "Play Great Golf." In Volume 1, "Mastering the Fundamentals," Palmer covers the basics, and in the second, "Course Strategy," he takes viewers through a round at his Isleworth Country Club in Bay Hill, Fla. Both one-hour tapes, priced at $39.95, are due in stores this week ... Three teen comedies get repriced at $24.95 this week. "The Breakfast Club" and "Sixteen Candles" pair writer-director John Hughes and his favorite star Molly Ringwald, while "Private Lessons" chronicles the education of a 15-year-old boy by his maid, played by "Emmanuelle" star Sylvia Kristel. You choose.