First New Animated Feature Since 2000 'Titan' Failure

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LOS ANGELES ( -- News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox is coming out of the Ice Age.
The new animated movie features a sabre-toothed squirrel as well as Manfred the mammoth.

After its failure in 2000 to win with the marketing of its big-budget animated movie, Titan A.E, Fox is back this spring with Ice Age, a tale about crazy prehistoric animals at the beginning of the Ice Age 20,000 years ago. The film, opening March 15, stars Manfred the mammoth and Sid the sloth, voiced by Ray Romano and John Leguizamo, respectively.

The movie's release comes as Fox renews its commitment to theatrical marketing. For more than a year, the film division was without a head of marketing due to Robert Harper's promotion to vice chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment. He had been president of worldwide marketing. Recently, Alan Cohen, formerly president of marketing for Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Entertainment came aboard as president of domestic theatrical marketing of Twentieth Century Fox.

Event movie marketing
Since the Titan A.E. debacle, the studio had some trepidation in launching massive event-style film marketing campaigns. But that attitude has thawed with Ice Age, which involves major movie tie-in sponsorships with Burger King Corp. and Cox Target Media's direct mail provider Valpak, as well as promotions with regional grocery chain Kroger Co.'s Ralphs Supermarkets and Barnes & Noble.

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"We decided this should be an 'event' movie," said Mr. Cohen. "Now we are going crazy with it."

As part of its push, Fox has stepped up promotions with its own media properties and others. The promotional efforts include on-screen IDs featuring the character Scrat (a prehistoric squirrel/rat) popping up in animated logos of cable networks such as Viacom's Nickelodeon, AOL Time Warner's Cartoon Network and HBO Family, Discovery Communciations' Animal Planet and News Corp.'s Fox Kids Network. The studio is also sponsoring the "Storm Watch" segment on The Weather Channel and animated icons will appeared during weather reports on Fox-owned stations.

Aimed at kids and adults
For Ice Age, Fox is targeting kids as well as parents.

"This movie is not tracking as a kids movie -- this is tracking as a general audience movie," said Jeffrey Godsick, executive vice president of publicity and promotions for Fox.

To target the older audience, Twentieth Century Fox sponsored the official Olympic medal standings on NBC's The Today Show and placed a significant media buy on the General Electric Co. unit's Olympic programming.

But Ice Age marketing efforts really get underway this week with a $22 million to $25 million TV and print campaign, according to industry executives. Fox would not comment on the spending estimate.

Product tie-ins
The studio's tie-in partners are also warming to Ice Age. Burger King is introducing a special "frozen float" vanilla and blue ice drink, and will promote the movie and the drink with a $10 million to $15 million TV media campaign, according to estimates.

Fox also enlisted Valpak, the co-op direct mail provider, to distribute a promotional message for the movie (and Burger King's product) on 65 million of its familiar blue envelopes stuffed with marketing materials. As part of that effort, Burger King will give away gift certificates for food at its restaurants via a sweepstakes.

Valpak also added some of the movie's clips to the close of its general market TV campaign.

Kroger, meanwhile, is offering an i>Ice Age sweepstakes through it's Ralph's Club Card. The grand prize is a trip for four to the Ice Hotel in Quebec, Canada.

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