The tie-in is part of a pact encompassing two properties for 1998 and marking the start of a long-term but non-exclusive alliance between Burger King and DreamWorks.
Neither DreamWorks nor Burger King would comment on the size of the six-week promotion for "Small Soldiers," but it's expected the No. 2 burger chain will spend as much as $25 million in media to support its activities.
"This is truly a strategic alliance with DreamWorks," said Richard Taylor, director of promotions for Burger King. "There are no set number of promotions we'll do each year, but we've agreed to share our work products and plans early on and look for appropriate synergies that can build our respective brands."
The specifics of the "Small Soldiers" program have yet to be disclosed; Burger King has the rights to leverage the movie property for kids meals, packaging, TV, print, outdoor and in-store advertising, and character-inspired premiums-the driver in fast-food movie promotions.
"The film is going to have a very broad appeal," said Anne Giangardella, head of promotions at DreamWorks. "The characters translate very well into promotional programs. It's a property that's very merchandisable and very franchisable."
4-5 OTHER PARTNERS SOUGHT
Ms. Giangardella said DreamWorks is shopping for four to five other partners to promote the movie in different retail and media venues.
Blending live action with computer animation, "Small Soldiers" tells the story of two kids caught up in a conflict between an intrepid band of monstrous creatures and technologically advanced, war-loving toy soldiers in suburbia. The movie is a co-production between DreamWorks and Universal Pictures, which has international distribution rights.
DIFFERENT FROM 'TOY STORY'
The film will be directed by Joe Dante of "Gremlins" fame. On paper, it sounds like a mix of his '80s hit and "Toy Story." But Ms. Giangardella said the movie is different from "Toy Story" in that "Small Soldiers" isn't about existing, name-brand toys but new creations being designed by Hasbro.
Burger King's agreement with DreamWorks also includes a Halloween '98 promotion linked to an animated TV property coming in January. Neither partner would say which show it is, but all signs point to "Toonsylvania," which will air on Fox.
Beyond next year, other film properties being considered by Burger King are "Trek" and "El Dorado," slated for 1999.
Burger King has done well for itself since losing out to McDonald's Corp. for a long-term alliance with Walt Disney Co. In fact, given its brand clout and media budget, Burger King has a virtual first-look option on any property at any studio except Disney.
SIMILAR TO NICKELODEON DEAL
Mr. Taylor likened Burger King's relationship with DreamWorks to its recently announced non-exclusive alliance with Nickelodeon, anchored by $50 million in promotions tied to its Rugrats property.
Mr. Taylor believes "Small Soldiers" is "the best kept secret in Hollywood."
But looking ahead, the same could be said of almost any summer '98 movie except