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Oscar Classics Return on DVD

30 Jan, 2007 By: John Latchem

Paramount's Best Picture Collection

It's awards season in Hollywood. With the Academy Awards ceremony looming Feb. 25, studios once again have a convenient excuse to trot out some of their Oscar-winning classics in an array of special editions and lavish DVD boxed sets.

Paramount Home Entertainment Feb. 6 offers a loaded set of previously released DVD versions of seven best picture Oscar winners packed in one box. Included are 1972's The Godfather, 1983's Terms of Endearment, 1994's Forrest Gump, 1995's Braveheart, 1997's Titanic and, from Paramount's recent acquisition of DreamWorks, 1999's American Beauty and 2000's Gladiator.

MGM, through its new distribution agreement with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, is really pumping out the classics, with new special editions of Oscar-winning films and new promotions of currently available titles.

Jan. 23 saw the release of a two-disc collector's edition of Fiddler on the Roof, the 1971 musical that earned famed composer John Williams his first of five Oscars. A retrospective interview with Williams is one of many bonus materials included with the film.

Jan. 30, Fox and MGM released a new two-disc collector's edition of 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, which swept the Oscars for best picture, director, screenplay, best actor for Anthony Hopkins and best actress for Jodie Foster. The new set has all the special features from previous DVDs, plus new documentaries and special recipe cards from Hannibal Lecter. The DVD set also is well-timed for the Feb. 9 theatrical release of the fourth film in the “Hannibal” franchise, the prequel Hannibal Rising.

MGM also is re-releasing some of its Oscar-winning classics in collectible limited-edition packaging. Best picture winners in this promotion include The Apartment, The Best Years of Our Lives, Dances With Wolves, In the Heat of the Night, Midnight Cowboy, Platoon, Rain Man and West Side Story.

Also included are City Slickers (best supporting actor — Jack Palance), Dead Man Walking (best actress — Susan Sarandon), Exodus (best musical score), Fargo (best actress — Frances McDormand, best original screenplay — Joel & Ethan Cohen), Hannah and Her Sisters (best supporting actor — Michael Caine, best supporting actress — Dianne Wiest, best original screenplay — Woody Allen), Misery (best actress — Kathy Bates), Prizzi's Honor (best supporting actress — Anjelica Huston), Some Like It Hot (best costume design).

Dances With Wolves also hits Blu-ray Disc March 13.

Gandhi, the 1982 winner of eight Oscars, including best picture and best actor for Ben Kingsley, hits Feb. 20 as a two-disc set from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The DVD includes commentary from director Richard Attenborough, plus several featurettes and interviews.

"Awards season naturally brings renewed attention to previous winners," said Marc Rashba, VP of catalog marketing. "We like to develop the release plans for classic films and past winners around this time of year due to the added support we get from retail and purchase interest from consumers."

Also due Feb. 20 is a special edition of the 1966's A Man for All Seasons, the story of Sir Thomas More's feud with British King Henry VIII. The film won six statuettes, including for best picture and best actor for Paul Scofield as More.

Sony also is readying a two-disc collector's edition of 1962 best picture winner Lawrence of Arabia for release March 20 (prebook Feb. 15). The DVD offers a restored director's cut, plus numerous featurettes, including a conversation with Steven Spielberg.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released a new two-DVD set of 2005's Brokeback Mountain, which won a number of Oscars, including best director for Ang Lee, but lost out to Crash for best picture. The set has new features and never-before-seen footage. A DVD/HD DVD combo version also is available.

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