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TK's MORNING BUZZ: New Line Home Entertainment Is Pushing the Envelope With Its New Line of 'InfiniFilm' DVDs

11 May, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

New Line Home Entertainment is really pushing the envelope with its new line of "InfiniFilm" DVDs. If other suppliers have given their top-of-the-line DVDs the red carpet treatment, then New Line is smothering the little things in crushed red velvet.

The inaugural film in the line is Thirteen Days, the Kevin Costner starrer about the Cuban Missile Crisis. And where New Line breaks from the pact is that each "InfiniFilm" DVD contains two complete movies: one, the straight theatrical version, and the other, with dozens of pop-up menus throughout the film that enable viewers, with a click of their remote, to instantly access supplemental material at the appropriate moment -- or "go beyond the movie," as the New Line folks like to say.

Thirteen Days, for example, includes no fewer than 61 pop-up menus, most of them offering the viewer two options. The menus are at the bottom of the screen, where subtitles usually are, and fade away after a few seconds if the viewer does nothing. But should the viewer decide to follow the prompts -- wow. That best sums up my response to the walk-through New Line executives conducted yesterday afternoon at their offices in Beverly Hills.

As the opening scene comes onto the screen, with a series of atomic explosions, a pop-up menu offers you the chance to view a brief documetary on America's nuclear arsenal in the early 1960s. Later, during a scene in which President Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) questions whether the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba might be related to the situation in Berlin, a pop-up menu lets you access another documentary filled with historical footage of the Berlin blockade and airlift, and how the Americans won that stare-down with the Soviets.

Special features on DVDs are quite common nowadays, but this is the first DVD I've watched where all the extra stuff is integrated into the actual film.

Very cool, guys, but not entirely unexpected.

I remember an incident at the 1997 East Coast Video Show in Atlantic City. I was moderating a panel discussion on DVD, and New Line president Stephen Einhorn was alone among studio executives in his unbridled enthusiasm for special features on DVD, which he predicted way back then would become a driving force.

Subsequent events have proven Einhorn right -- one big studio recently found that 40% of its DVD buyers demand special features -- and now he's once again outdoing everyone else.

And at a suggested list price of just $26.98, InfiniFilm is just one more reason VHS doesn't stand a chance at prolonged survival, in my opinion.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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