Universal Music has sold more than 1.5 million units of its three "Dreamboats and Petticoats" (UMTV) compilation albums since the first edition launched in the fall of 2007, according to the Official Charts Co. This month the compilation will be exported to the U.S. for a dedicated release by "Now."

The pre-Beatles rock 'n' roll series includes hits from domestic acts such as Billy Fury and Cliff Richard, as well as U.S. artists including Buddy Holly and Bobby Vee.

Following its U.K. success, the series will launch in the U.S. late July with further international releases planned for Australia, Canada and Scandinavia. The "Now" compilation brand will release the first volume of "Dreamboats" - the title has been shortened for the U.S. - as a 3CD package via a direct-response marketing campaign on cable TV, followed by a full retail release for a 2CD edition in October. The U.S. tracklisting will be made up of American artists.

The concept was devised by Brian Berg, Universal Music Enterprises U.K. president, who has successfully used TV advertising to market the albums. Berg went on to executive produce the hit "Dreamboats and Petticoats" musical, which Universal cross-promoted in the TV commercials.

The musical, which is showing in London's West End and touring the regions, is a Universal joint venture with Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield. There is also a cast recording album available.

Berg says there are potential U.K. brand tie-ins ranging from "greeting cards to holidays."

"We are looking at other brand extensions, we are in very advanced discussions with cruise companies, holiday companies," he says.

Holiday and cruise companies are in talks to stage the musical or performers singing songs from the show, on a franchise basis, with the show producers retaining creative control.

Dreamboats Movie

The show has been seen by more than 1 million people in the U.K., says Berg, and it will tour Ireland in 2010. It is set to launch in the U.S. as a regional production followed by a Broadway run at some stage and there are plans for a "Dreamboats" movie in 2010. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who wrote the story for the musical, are now working on a movie script.

"Brian's obviously done an amazing job and it's a real phenomenon over there [the U.K.]," says "Now" VP of marketing and business development Laura Rutherford.

Rutherford and Bob Mercer, the "Now" chief executive who died in May aged 65, came up with the plan to release the series stateside.

Rutherford says "Now" will put together a "beautiful package of music" and use the "Now" brand's relationships with U.S. retailers to give it a push. "We can really blow it up and make it a big deal," she adds.

Berg is pushing ahead with the series in the U.K., where a "Dreamboats and Petticoats Summer Holiday" edition was released this week (June 28). The fourth edition in the regular series in due in November.

For more on the "Dreamboats" brand see the current edition of Billboard, cover date July 3.