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Spielberg&#39;s <i>Purple</i> Gets Special Edition

19 Dec, 2002 By: Joan Villa

Warner Home Video will release 13 Academy Award-winning films in February and March to bask in the spotlight of “awards season.”

Topping the list is a two-disc special edition of The Color Purple due Feb. 18, priced at $27.95 with a $19.95 minimum advertised price. Single-unit orders are due Jan. 21. The set features extensive documentaries and commentaries by director Steven Spielberg and stars Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg reminiscing about their film debuts.

“We are thrilled with this film to have the cooperation of really all the key players in the movie,” said Michael Radiloff, Warner Home Video VP of DVD marketing. “It's testimony to how important this film was to them, to their love of the material, and also the importance it had for their careers.”

Driving Miss Daisy, winner of four Academy Awards, will be released in a special edition Feb. 4, available in widescreen for the first time. The title, which won best picture and best actress, preorders on Jan. 7 and will be priced at $19.95 ($14.95 MAP). Also due Feb. 4 are the remastered Mildred Pierce, which won a best actress Oscar for Joan Crawford, and A Patch of Blue, with best supporting actress winner Shelley Winters. Each DVD is priced at $19.95 with a $14.95 MAP.

On March 4, Warner will release two Oscar best picture collections: “Epic Dramas,” with Ben-Hur, Casablanca and Gone with the Wind; and “Classic Musicals,” featuring An American in Paris, Gigi and My Fair Lady. Each collectible gift set is priced at $49.98 ($39.98 MAP) and timed to the 75th anniversary of the Academy Awards. Orders are due Feb. 4. Extras that vary by title include audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes documentaries, cast interviews, soundtracks in 5.1 Digital Audio and theatrical trailers.

“I think we've demonstrated there's a market for these classic movies,” Radiloff noted. When faced with several classics that launched the premium line in September, retailers “were initially conservative in their orders,” he added. “But based on the sell-off, all our accounts have come back and ordered additional product.”

The Color Purple is also poised to spice up Black History Month in its remastered edition with four new documentaries, featuring Winfrey, Goldberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Spielberg and author Alice Walker, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the story of a poor African-American girl growing up in the rural South of the early 1900s. Originally released in 1983, the movie received 11 Academy Award nominations, including Spielberg's first as director, and went on to gross $97 million at the box office.

“We treat this like a new release with the same level of marketing, advertising, publicity and promotional support we would do for a new theatrical film you'd see for the first time,” Radiloff said. “The publicity is the critical component, because you need to fully communicate to people how wonderful these films are and why they deserve another viewing.”

National advertising will target women aged 25 to 49, DVD enthusiasts and Winfrey fans on network TV and cable advertising on Lifetime, Oxygen, BET, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and print ads in People, In Style, Redbook, Oprah Magazine, Jet and others.

“This was a very risky project for Spielberg to undertake,” recalled Radiloff. “There were not big-budget Hollywood movies starring all African-American casts. This was an anomaly and received a huge amount of scrutiny. ... In spite of this, it was a huge success at the box office and was in theaters for 34 weeks. It just grew and grew.”

The DVD's featured documentaries are: “Conversations with Ancestors: The Color Purple From Book to Screen”; “A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple”; “Cultivating a Classic: The Making of The Color Purple”; and “The Color Purple: The Musical.” Extra features include behind-the-scenes and cast photo galleries, the theatrical trailer and two teaser trailers.

Two foreign-language film Oscar winners will debut on DVD March 18: Francois Truffaut's Day for Night and Claude Lelouch's A Man and a Woman. The discs, priced at $19.98 with a $14.95 MAP, will include vintage and new bonus features, and preorder Feb. 18. While not an Oscar winner, the classic documentary Akira Kurosawa's Dreams is being marketed in the same promotion.

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