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Expanded 'Gladiator' DVD to Bow With Commentary from Crowe

26 May, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Scene from Gladiator

DreamWorks Home Entertainment is readying an extras-packed “expanded” edition DVD of Gladiator that will include 17 minutes of additional footage, cut back into the film — as well as star Russell Crowe's first-ever DVD commentary.

Film director Ridley Scott personally oversaw production of the elaborate three-disc set, which is scheduled to arrive in stores Aug. 23 (prebook July 12), priced at about $25.

Crowe's portrayal of the betrayed Roman general Maximus won him a best actor Oscar and catapulted his star power in Hollywood. His commentary on Gladiator is being taped this week in Los Angeles.

Kelly Sooter, head of domestic home entertainment for DreamWorks SKG, calls Crowe's involvement “a testament to this movie's legacy.”

Gladiator is a modern-day film classic that continues to resonate with audiences even five years after its initial release,” she said.

The new Gladiator DVD, released on the film's fifth anniversary, includes such special features as director Scott's storyboard sketches, a feature-length documentary on how filmmakers had to scramble to digitally salvage Oliver Reed's final performance as Proximo after the actor died during the filming, and interviews with filmmakers detailing the story's origins in ancient history and its transition from script to screen.

“There's a depth and richness to this DVD's bonus programming that could only come from the passage of time,” Sooter said. “It's been fascinating to listen to the cast and crew recount their experiences on the set and to learn the true magnitude and scope of how this extraordinary film was brought to life.”

Gladiator was initially released on DVD in November 2000 and promptly shot to the top of the national sales charts. It remained the top-selling DVD for a year, until Shrek set a new DVD sales record in November 2001. Industry sources peg total sales, to date, at nearly 10 million copies.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has set a Sept. 13 release date (prebook Aug. 9) for another movie set in ancient Rome, Ben-Hur. The 1959 epic, winner of 11 Academy Awards, will debut as a four-disc collector's edition priced at $39.92.

The William Wyler film has been newly remastered from the original 65mm film elements and comes to DVD with more than 10 hours of bonus materials. Among them are an all-new documentary on the film's influence, with such leading filmmakers as Scott and George Lucas, rare screen tests, a “making of” documentary hosted by Christopher Plummer and commentary on select scenes by star Charlton Heston.

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