TV MOVIE 'ANNABELLE'S WISH' ADOPTS BIG-SCREEN TACTICS

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Ralph Edwards Films has crafted a marketing program for its holiday-slated animated feature, "Annabelle's Wish," that sounds downright Disneyesque.

The plan includes promotion support from Novus Services, Mrs. Fields Cookies and 100 shopping malls; a sound track featuring country music star Randy Travis; a diverse licensing program; and a cause-marketing campaign with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

But while "Annabelle" has a marketing program befitting a theatrical release, the feature is intended for TV-and it doesn't even have a network deal yet.

NEGOTIATIONS TO START

Barbara Dunn-Leonard, "Anna-belle's" co-executive producer, said negotiations with networks are expected to start within a month, as soon as she decides on whether to sell the ad time through the Edwards company or let the network do it.

"We've heard from several ad agencies that want to buy the entire program for themselves, but if we go that route, we want to make sure their clients aren't competitive with our" promotion partners, said Ms. Dunn-Leonard, who hopes for an early November air date.

It remains to be seen how networks will respond to "Anna-belle," regardless of the ad sales strategy, given that Hallmark Home Entertainment will release the film on home video within weeks-if not days-of its airing.

Edwards is convinced it has a new holiday classic-and a marketable sweeps-month property. And its marketing program is more akin to theatrical animated films than TV movies.

"We want to go in to a network with everything ready to go, so we can put on the table an integrated, turnkey program, one that we think exceeds most feature films," Ms. Dunn-Leonard said.

"Annabelle's Wish," the story of a calf that's granted the ability to speak by Santa Claus, is the first animated film from Ralph Edwards Films, known mostly for TV programs such as "This Is Your Life" and "People's Court."

HOLIDAY-ONLY VIDEO

The marketing program is designed to back the home video, which will only be available during the holiday season. Novus, which gets a plug on the packaging, will sponsor a program that takes "Annabelle" into 100 malls beginning Thanksgiving weekend. Each mall will theme its holiday promotions around "Annabelle."

Signage and video kiosks will tout the video, licensed merchandise and promotion partners. The in-mall ad and promotion push is estimated at $2.5 million to $5 million.

Mrs. Fields is still finalizing its program, but plans call for the cookie retailer to sell the video and licensed merchandise through its 500 stores. There have been talks about creating a special version of the video that would include a how-to baking segment.

News America will do an "Annabelle's Wish" free-standing insert in late October/early November; consumer products marketers are being sought. A portion of sales generated by the FSI will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is at the heart of much of "Annabelle's" marketing activity.

Promotions tied to the movie's soundtrack, one of its singles and that song's music video will be linked to Make-A-Wish. Ralph Edwards Films is underwriting the realization of 100 wishes in the foundation's "Make-A-Child's-Wish-Come-True" campaign throughout the course of this year.

Golden Books, a unit of Hallmark Cards, plans six different "Annabelle" books

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