"The excitement surrounding the movie has pro-pelled consumers to this soundtrack, which serves as
the eternal souvenir to a film that has become an
instant classic."
——ERG President Polly Anthony
Golden Globe-winning Movie Boosts Album Into Top Five as Oscar Nominations Loom
Every coupla years, a dark-horse album comes along and gives the record biz a kick in the pants.

Last year, it was Norah Jones, two years ago O Brother and before that, the Titanic soundtrack.

The first candidate of 2003 has emerged in Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax’s Chicago album, which is riding the hit movie’s box-office popularity into chart success, making itself at home in the Top Five, with weekly sales approaching 100k.

Epic Records Group President Polly Anthony, denying she was the role model for the film’s character "Mama," said the success of the album is a "cultural and critical sensation… The excitement surrounding the movie has propelled consumers to this soundtrack, which serves as the eternal souvenir to a film that has become an instant classic."

The Miramax movie nabbed three Golden Globes—winning Best Musical, along with Best Actor and Actress nods for Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger—and appears the odds-on favorite to grab the most nods when Academy Award nominations are announced next Tuesday (2/11). The film has a good shot to become the first musical to win the Best Picture Oscar since Oliver! in 1968. That movie culminated a ten-year period in which five musicals earned top honors, including Gigi (’58), West Side Story (’61), My Fair Lady (’64) and The Sound of Music (’65).

The Chicago soundtrack album includes the film’s set pieces and celebrated songs, written by John Kander and Fred Ebb of Cabaret fame. Those include Catherine Zeta-Jones’ opening "And All that Jazz," Queen Latifah’s "When You’re Good to Mama," "Cell Block Tango," inspired by Elvis Presley’s "Jailhouse Rock," Gere’s "All I Care About," Zellweger’s "Roxie," John C. Reilly’s moving "Mr. Cellophane" and a pair of selections from the Danny Elfman score.

There’s also a new song written for the film, "I Move On," performed by Zeta-Jones and Zellweger, as well as two additional songs "inspired by the motion picture." One is a hip-hop version of Latifah’s "Cell Black Tango" with Lil’ Kim and Macy Gray; the other, Anastacia’s "Love Is a Crime," will be the first track worked to radio, with a late-February impact date. It’ll be accompanied by a just-completed big-budget clip directed by Matthew Rolston. A three-minute video featuring an edit of "And All That Jazz" is already being aired on VH1.

Ebb, who wrote the book and lyrics for the original Broadway production directed and choreographed by the late Bob Fosse, was especially pleased with first-time director Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the movie.

"Rob, [screenwriter] Bill Condon and I met a few times before the film began shooting and were aware of how Fosse and my script was being adapted. At no time was I less than delighted with Condon’s wit, ingenuity and originality or Rob’s marvelous ideas for making the play cinematic."

Kander, the man behind the music, was "thrilled" with how the songs were used in the film. "I’m not surprised as Rob is so talented and knows the material so well."

Removing his hands from the buttered popcorn, Sony Music Soundtrax ruler Glen Brunman said the movie "has introduced great music and great songs to a whole new audience. It’s the classic example of moviegoers leaving the theater and heading straight to the record store."

The www.chicagosoundtrack.com site allows CD owners to unlock bonus content, as well as access three full-length tracks, with links to Elle and Woman’s Day offering free merchandise.

Exec. VP/GM Steve Barnett said the marketing campaign was unorthodox. "We had to target a buyer who was not necessarily the regular record consumer. Non-traditional partners such as department stores, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and gift shops like Hallmark have been instrumental in promoting and selling this soundtrack."

On March 18, Epic will release a limited edition CD Digipak/DVD with special packaging, notes penned by Kander and Ebb, the video of "And All That Jazz," "Behind the Scenes" interviews and demos of the original songs.

Street teams are handing out discount coupons for the soundtrack at theaters where the movie is playing, while the gay marketing company Karpel has distributed promotional items and point-of-purchase material at special events and venues in top 20 markets. A mailing also went out to lifestyle accounts, with a TV campaign on networks including A&E, Fox News, E!, TLC, TV Guide, Lifetime, H&G, Food, Bravo, Oxygen, CNN and Dish guaranteeing 100 million impressions with the target adult audience. A giant billboard for the movie and soundtrack is now on display at Times Square on Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets. 

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