Times Staff Writer

With some help from Diet Pepsi, Paramount Video will be shaving a few bucks from the price of the video version of last year’s $170-million-grossing “Top Gun” and ushering in a new era in home video.

The film, which stars Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, will hit the video stores March 11 but the cassette will have an opening soft-drink commercial, probably 60 seconds long, inspired by the romantic adventure story of Navy pilots and their instructors. And, says Paramount, if the commercial goes over with the buying public, future releases may carry advertising as well.

The studio says the unusual commercial sponsorship of the cassette will drop the retail price by $3--to $26.95, the lowest yet for a movie making its home-video debut.


Paramount has been able to offer “Top Gun” at this price, said Robert Klingensmith, president of the video division of the Paramount Television Group, because of the ground-breaking promotional tie-in with Pepsi-Cola Co.

The cassette will be advertised on Diet Pepsi TV commercials. In return, the Diet Pepsi commercial will be added to the cassette.

Many industry observers speculate that fans will rebel at the invasion of commercialism. Klingensmith, though, predicted that most fans wouldn’t be turned off by the addition of the ad. Those who are, he said, “can use the fast-forward buttons on their VCRs.”

Though Paramount has been a leader in low-pricing, the $26.95 tag is surprising considering that other companies are going in the opposite direction. Some are planning to market major movies at $90 or $100 this year.

“The high price is the wrong way to go,” Klingensmith said. He added, though, that Paramount might have to reconsider its pricing of certain movies if the new high prices become the industry standard.

Klingensmith said Paramount expects to sell at least 1.5 million copies of “Top Gun” to retailers and distributors, topping “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”--two Paramount movies initially offered at $29.95--that have sold about 1.4 million copies each.


NEW RELEASES: “Howard the Duck,” “Out of Bounds,” “A Fine Mess” and “On Valentine’s Day” are this week’s major releases. Next week’s list is headed by “Back to School,” the smash-hit Rodney Dangerfield comedy. The others are “Extremities,” “Fool for Love,” “Ginger and Fred” and “Seize the Day.”

CHARTS (Compiled by Billboard magazine)


2--”Cobra” (Warner Video).

3--”Indiana Jones” (Paramount).

4--”Poltergeist II” (MGM/UA).

5--”Raw Deal” (HBO/Cannon).

6--”Maximum Overdrive” (Karl-Lorimar).

7--”Down and Out in Beverly Hills” (Touchstone).

8--”SpaceCamp” (Vestron).

9--”The Manhattan Project” (HBO/Cannon).

10--”The Money Pit” (MCA).

TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, SALES 1--”Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (Paramount).

2--”Jane Fonda’s Low-Impact Aerobic Workout” (Karl-Lorimar).

3--”Sleeping Beauty” (Disney).

4--”Jane Fonda’s New Workout” (Karl-Lorimar).

5--”Star Trek III: the Search For Spock” (Paramount).

6--”The Sound of Music” (CBS-Fox).

7--”Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan” (Paramount).

8--”Witness” (Paramount).

9--”Secrets of the Titanic” (Vestron).

10--”Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Paramount).