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Studios Stepping Up the Special Edition Extras

21 Oct, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

For the savvy DVD consumer, special edition bonus material has to be truly special.

“We go back and release special editions when we know we can offer something significantly better,” said George Feltenstein, SVP of catalog for Warner Home Video. “There has to be significant additional material that warrants a second disc.”

Warner's The Wizard of Oz and King Kong special editions are cases in point. The Wizard of Oz three-disc collector's edition ($39.92), arriving this week, features the studio's “Ultra-Resolution Technology” transfer process of the original film, along with a newly restored version of the 1925 feature-length silent version starring Oliver Hardy with a fresh score by Robert Israel. The set contains other rare “Oz” film features and shorts produced between 1910 and 1933. It also includes a reproduction of the original eight-page Grauman's Chinese Theater Oz souvenir program from Aug. 15, 1939, nine restored color portraits and publicity photos, and other reproduced memorabilia.

The 1933 RKO classic King Kong is Warner's most requested title, according to the studio, and arrives Nov. 22 in a two-disc special edition ($26.99) and collector's edition ($39.98) with four new documentaries, including one by director Peter Jackson (ahead of his much anticipated remake). The King Kong collector's edition also includes a 20-page reproduction of the original 1933 souvenir program and other materials.

“It makes sense to develop a new edition with new content that renews that gem and gets both fans and new DVD users excited,” said Todd Rowan, VP of marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

For The Sound of Music two-disc 40th anniversary edition streeting Nov. 15 ($26.98), Fox brought together the entire cast of the film for the first time in 20 years, enlisting them in a wide variety of features, for which star Julie Andrews serves as host. Award-winning producer Michael Kantor (Broadway: The American Musical) developed a major retrospective documentary and other new features, presented by an arrangement with The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. The seven actors who played the Von Trapp children reunite; there's a travelogue back to Salzburg, Austria, with Charmian Carr (Liesl); and Andrews and co-star Christopher Plummer provide reminiscences and a commentary. Fans also can hear a commentary from director Robert Wise taken from the laserdisc, and enjoy behind-the-scenes photos, lobby cards and a storyboard gallery.

The studio Nov. 15 also is giving the special anniversary treatment to Oklahoma! (50th) and State Fair (60th).

New Line Home Entertainment's “The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection,” also due Nov. 15, presents a comprehensive retrospective of an iconic Hollywood pioneer, whose work had already been mined piecemeal on public domain videos. Lloyd was also a significant photographer, painter and dog breeder.

“He was a renaissance man,” said Justine Brody, SVP of marketing for New Line. “Because of the person he was, and with the help of the Lloyd estate, we were able to explore a lot of things that made up the man.”

The studio, working with Lloyd's granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd, had exclusive access to the Harold Lloyd Estate, which had rare footage, photographs, home movies and other memorabilia. The studio also worked with the UCLA film archives. In all, the collection covers six discs over three volumes containing 15 feature films and 13 shorts, all digitally remastered and rescored. The volumes can be purchased separately for $29.95. The collector's set ($89.85) includes the three volumes plus a bonus disc that includes the Lloyd estate vintage interviews, home movies and a collection of pioneering 3-D photos taken by Lloyd (3-D glasses included).

Buena Vista Home Entertainment's “Platinum Editions” of its animated classics come out of the vault every seven to 10 years.

Cinderella appeared for the first time on DVD Oct. 4 in a two-disc Platinum edition. The set includes interactive features that let viewers build their own gowns, design palaces and play games. It also includes historical and behind-the-scenes featurettes designed for Disney film buffs, plus music videos and songs recorded but not used for the film.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment focused its new “Legacy Series” on some of its great catalog titles, including recent releases of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sting and The Deer Hunter. Oct. 4 the studio released “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” ($119.98), a 15-disc boxed set of 14 films (including Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds), plus a bonus disc with alternate endings, production notes and photos, some of Hitchcock's legendary storyboards and a 36-page collectible book.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and MGM are packaging classics together in themes. Just arrived Oct. 18 is the “American Movie Musical Collection” ($35.95), featuring West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and Guys and Dolls. Due this week are two World War II commemorative boxed sets, ($35.95 each): Guns of Navarone, From Here to Eternity and Bridge on the River Kwai in one; and Das Boot, Anzio, Caine Mutiny and Dead Men's Secrets: The Secrets of the Sea Wolves in the other. Each set also contains documentaries from The History Channel.

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