Summer may not have officially begun yet, but the video studios have already revealed enough about their fall plans to suggest that Christmas 1990 will be the most fiercely competitive season ever in the lucrative children's video market. Announcements from Disney and Goodtimes Home Video drew the initial battle lines between the two "Peter Pan" tapes -- one animated, one live-action -- that will reach the market in late August and early September. Now comes word that the "Peter Pan" showdown will take place in a market that is raining cats and dogs, in the form of the surprise video debut of feline cartoon favorite Garfield and the somewhat expected video arrival of last year's animated hit "All Dogs Go to Heaven."
Garfield will make his first appearance on home video in September on three tapes from CBS/Fox Video, which has sat out the last few rounds of the Christmas season kidvid craziness. The company returns to the fledgling fray armed with impressive statistics about its new animated star, currently enjoying a renewed popularity as spokescat for Alpo cat food. According to CBS/Fox, Jim Davis's irascible cat is the No. 1 contemporary cartoon and comic strip character among children and teenagers; his unanimated adventures are currently seen in 2,300 newspapers nationwide and have sold more than 37 million books.
Along the way, Garfield has starred in a series of high-rated, Emmy Award-winning animated specials for CBS, three of which make up the CBS/Fox Video launch: "Here Comes Garfield," "Garfield on the Town" and "Garfield Goes Hollywood." The 30-minute tapes will be priced at $12.95 each. Retailers whose orders meet CBS/Fox's requirements will get their tapes packaged with collectible Garfield figurines -- a different $2-$3 retail value figurine for each title -- at no extra charge. The addition of the figurines not only adds an element unavailable on competing tapes, but makes the packages too large to fit on standard video shelving -- thus guaranteeing that the tapes will be given the special treatment in crowded video stores this fall.
In a widely expected move, MGM/UA will bring Don Bluth's "All Dogs Go to Heaven" to video stores this August priced at $24.95. As with last year's successful re-release of the 50th anniversary "Wizard of Oz" tape, MGM/UA will again team up with Procter & Gamble's Downy fabric softener as its promotion partner. P&G will offer consumers a $5 rebate on "Heaven" tapes to bring the net retail price down to $19.95. In return, Downy will kick in on an advertising-promotion campaign that MGM/UA values at $21 million -- more that double the ad-promo budget that helped make "Oz" a surprise bestseller last year. For each tape sold, MGM/UA will also make a contribution to the Boys Club of America, which will be promoted in a public-service announcement following the movie on the "Heaven" tape.
Back on the "Pan" front, Goodtimes Video has lined up a sponsorship partner for its late-August release of the classic Mary Martin television special. Nestle's Raisinets candy will be featured in a 30-second commercial on the tape; in return, Nestle will offer a $5 rebate on "Peter Pan" purchases, bringing the net retail price down to $19.95. Disney's animated "Peter Pan," which will be the last of the four major kidvid characters to reach the market, also has a rebate to bring the price down to the same level, although its sponsor, Nabisco, will have no on-screen presence; of the junior majors, only the Goodtimes "Peter Pan" will have an on-screen commercial, according to the distributors' current plans.
Where the Troys Are If asked to name two Troy Donahue movies, most of us would probably stumble, tossing in a Tab or Rock credit that doesn't belong. Warner Home Video hopes to change that next month by bringing out two vintage Troy treats new to the video market. The 1959 film adaptation of Sloan Wilson's bestseller "A Summer Place" may be best remembered for its theme song, an instrumental waltz composed by Academy Award winner Max Steiner; Warner bills it as the film with which Donahue and Sandra Dee "broke through to the front rank of favorite screen stars." Warner also has kind words for Donahue's supporting cast in 1963's Easter-in-the-desert romp "Palm Springs Weekend," touted as "a Who's Who of young Warner Bros. stars of the early '60s" -- Connie Stevens, Stefanie Powers, Robert Conrad and Jerry Van Dyke. Both are due in stores next month priced at $59.95.