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All Aboard for the Holidays

20 Jun, 2005 By: John L. Thomas A.

The Polar Express

The fourth-quarter DVD derby is off and running with announcements that two of the biggest computer-animated hits of the past year will bow on video for the holiday season.

Warner Home Video's The Polar Express will street Nov. 22 (prebook Oct. 11) as a two-disc DVD set for $29.95 and on VHS for $22.99.

Tom Hanks toplines the film based on a children's book and directed by Academy Award-winner Robert Zemekis, who used a new performance-capture system to aid the animation process. After a slow start at the box office, the film picked up steam, earning a domestic total of $162.8 million.

The DVD includes an unused song; a game for kids; a featurette exploring the technology used to make the film; and “You Look Familiar,” a profile of Hanks' versatile role in the production.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Sept. 20 (prebook Aug. 24) is preparing Robots for release on DVD, VHS and UMD ($29.98 each all formats). The title grossed $127.3 million at the domestic box office, is set in a robotic world and features voice talent from Ewan McGregor and Robin Williams.

The DVD includes the exclusive short Aunt Fanny's Tour of Booty; as well as two commentary tracks; deleted scenes; interactive games, including an Xbox racing game; trailers; several production featurettes and a detailed look at Fox's upcoming theatrical sequel Ice Age 2.

Industry sources also believe Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, the year's top-grossing movie so far, will likely street Nov. 8. That's the traditional first-week-in-November home video “sweet spot” reserved last year for Shrek 2 and, in 2003, for Finding Nemo.

“You can take that one to the bank,” said Ralph Tribbey, editor and publisher of The DVD Release Report, which tracks DVD releases.

Other theatrical blockbusters likely to be released on DVD during the fourth quarter of 2005 include current hits Madagascar, The Longest Yard and Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Batman Begins, which opened last week, and War of the Worlds, which bows theatrically June 29, also may slip into the fourth quarter, industry sources said.

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