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'Brokeback' Rides to DVD April 4

20 Mar, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold


In a further indication that the traditional six-week solicitation cycle may be going the way of the six-month theatrical-to- video window, Universal Studios Home Entertainment March 20 announced Brokeback Mountain will be out on DVD in two weeks.

The April 4 street date for the Oscar-lauded film, which had been widely favored to win best picture only to lose out to Crash, is being rushed out to capitalize on Oscar buzz, studio executives said.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three — for best director, Ang Lee, best adapted screenplay and best original score.The short window between the release announcement and the release date is the latest example in what observers say is a trend reflecting the growing clout of mass merchants over video specialists.

“You don't need six weeks to sell to Wal-Mart,” said one insider.

Studio sources say Focus Features also kept Brokeback Mountain in theaters after the March 5 Academy Awards, so protocol prevented Universal's home video division from announcing the DVD release until now.

Brokeback Mountain is the latest in a series of high-profile films with drastically shortened DVD solicitation periods. While the March 28 release date for King Kong had been speculated on by the media since early February, Universal didn't officially announce the Peter Jackson remake until the second week in March. Similarly, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment waited until mid-February to announce the Feb. 28 release of Walk the Line.

The Brokeback Mountain DVD ($29.98) includes several unique special features, including a documentary in which stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal discuss their preparations for the film, such as training for a rodeo and for wrangling.

There's also a profile on director Lee, as well as interviews with screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana as they discuss bringing Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx's short story to the screen.

The controversial film tells the story of two young men, played by Ledger and Gyllenhaal, who meet at a Wyoming ranch in 1963 and begin a complicated love affair that spans decades.

The film also earned nominations for best actor for Ledger, best supporting actor for Gyllenhaal, best supporting actress for Michelle Williams as Ledger's long-suffering wife, and best cinematography.

The movie hit theaters Dec. 9, earning more than $82 million.

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