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It Came On DVD!

22 May, 2003 By: Dan Bennett

An entire industry beams up when the science-fiction genre is mentioned.

“This is perhaps the top genre for DVD overall,” said Jeff Fink, president of sales and marketing for Artisan Home Entertainment, a key supplier of science-fiction titles.

Artisan's T2: Extreme DVD is ready to go. The title is heavily loaded with extras, all carefully supervised by director James Cameron.

“Something like this takes a whole lot of planning and research,” said Hosea Belcher, Artisan's VP of marketing. “We wanted to make sure we put out an offering where there was nothing missing, make sure all of the features were viable.”

The latest technical developments allowed Artisan to cater to the sci-fi crowd, known for loving extras and the highest possible quality.

“With technology making gains by leaps and bounds every couple of years, we wanted something even better than that Ultimate Edition,” Belcher said. “This is the most amazing quality you will see on DVD. This is literally better than what people saw in theaters as far as visual quality.”

In November, Anchor Bay Entertainment released a complete boxed set of season one of the popular TV series “Highlander,” along with new-to-video early work from Independence Day director Roland Emmerich. Anchor Bay also repromotes some of the genre favorites, including The Philadelphia Experiment, The Black Hole and “The Doctor Who Collection.” If that's not enough, Anchor Bay also has the feline sci-fi fave The Cat From Outer Space.

Rhino Home Video, meanwhile, is ready to score points with its interactive “Dungeons & Dragons” release.

And everybody knows sci-fi is all about mysterious dimensions. SlingShot Entertainment offers three dimensions in its titles. Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Radar Men From the Moon and Monster From a Prehistoric Planet are all recent 3-D releases. They feature technology that lets viewers switch between 2-D and 3-D, with 3-D glasses sold separately. As Internet 3-D games are popular, there have been some 600,000 3-D glasses sold to consumers already.

“The sci-fi video market is a growing market with the recent release of such Hollywood blockbusters as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter,” said Mitch Perliss, VP and general manager of SlingShot Entertainment. “It has created a resurgence in both die-hard fans and the new, younger generation.”

The 3-D aspects are a nostalgic twist for the company and its consumers.

“Our titles have more of a cult following that is embracing the resurgence of this classic genre on DVD,” said Jennifer Nelson, director of product development at SlingShot Entertainment.

The interest is out there, Perliss added.

“There is a large fan base looking for 3-D stuff,” he said. “Every day we get e-mails asking what will come out next, and the exciting thing is, there's a large selection of sci-fi titles to choose from. We look for the best quality assets we can find.”

Retail has been responsive, Perliss said, not only to 3-D but to sci-fi in general.

“You go to Best Buy and see big science-fiction sections, and it makes you excited as a fan of that product,” Perliss said. “It's a growing genre, and we feel good about releasing this product.”

Suppliers are happy because sci-fi comprises new properties, new gimmicks and older properties with long shelf lives. Perhaps there is no other genre that encourages more repeat business from faithful viewers. That's why companies such as BBC Video enjoy success with such titles as Doctor Who: The Key to Time -- The Complete Adventure.

“Titles like this give collectors a chance to collect again,” said Burton Cromer, VP of home video for BBC Direct. “We asked the fans to vote on the ‘Doctor Who' titles they wanted to see on DVD special edition, and this was the clear choice.”

BBC may be best known for classics, but the British network has long ventured toward sci-fi and fantasy, with releases including the “Red Dwarf” series and the ever-popular Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

“We try to make our science fiction unique,” Cromer said. “It's a hybrid of drama and comedy and cult, much like the genre itself.”

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