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<I>Ed Wood</I> DVD Release on Hiatus

10 Mar, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The on-again, off-again DVD release of Ed Wood, the 1994 black-and-white film starring Johnny Depp as the eccentric 1950s ‘B'-film director, is, well … off again, according to distributor Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

The Tim Burton-directed quasibiography is about one of Hollywood's stranger personalities and his equally bizarre posse of performers, including aging Dracula actor Bela Lugosi -- played by Martin Landau in an Oscar-winning performance. Wood was originally slated for DVD release in 2002, then was pulled and re-scheduled for release last month before being retracted again -- not, however, before a number of units progressed through select retail channels, including eBay, at which a solitary copy is selling for $24.95. So, why the tug-of-war over a film that grossed little more than $5 million at the U.S. box office? “We're exploring other opportunities, perhaps maybe even later this year,” said a BVHE spokesperson, who declined further comment.

Industry observers, however, suggest there were problems with permissions and rights associated with select bonus features on the DVD. “There was something about [a rival studio's presence] that they weren't happy about,” said Ron Epstein, co-owner of Home Theater Forum, a New Jersey-based online discussion board of the entertainment industry. “But I've never heard anything definitive about it.”

Typically, studios will release catalog titles for home video when the potential for publicity generated by the actors' involvement in separate projects is high.

Depp -- with his best actor nomination for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates' DVD release last December -- and Burton, with the fantasy film Big Fish, both appeared to have the requisite newsworthiness to merit the DVD release of Wood.

“If you're releasing around that window, you have built in exposure that someone else is paying for,” said an industry source familiar with film marketing. “They are doing all the marketing for you.”

A major action film scheduled for theatrical release in the fall could make for the marketing necessary to finally bring the Wood DVD to retail fruition.

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