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Videos Commemorate Pope

7 Apr, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

The death of Pope John Paul II has brought a deluge of news coverage as well as renewed interest in video titles that center around him, suppliers said.

One is Koch Entertainment’s ABC News Presents: Pope John Paul II: His Life and Legacy, which streeted late last year.

“There’s been a huge resurgence [in the title],” said Dan Gurlitz, president of Koch Entertainment. “There are literally thousands of units that are being processed and shipped as fast as possible.”

A&E Home Video has the Biography Channel documentary Pope John Paul II: Statesman of Faith. This disc includes extras such as a timeline of the Pope’s life and a featurette on the history of the Vatican.

Kate Winn, VP of sales and marketing for A&E Home Video, said the supplier has gotten a lot of renewed interest in the title, in part because the Biography brand is often top-of-mind in instances like this.

“Biography really is about celebrating lives,” she said.And there’s something cathartic for audiences watching the funeral coverage on TV and finding video titles like this, she said.

“It allows them to share in their grief, and the DVD really serves as a keepsake, a souvenir of a life that meant a lot to them, one that they can share with their children and future generations,” Winn said.

Promoting titles like these calls for a bit of sensitivity, said Fred Eggink, director of sales and marketing for CAV Distributing Corp., which handles Slingshot Entertainment’s Pope John Paul II: Celebration of the Great Jubilee. However, he added, it is normal for interest in any product about a famous public figure to spike for a short while in the wake of their passing.

“This title should continue to sell for several months, however, because there is so much news coverage, plus the fact that Pope John Paul may reach ‘the Great’ status,” Eggink said.

The Catholic Church’s cardinals’ conclave begins April 18, and it could take several weeks before a new Pope is elected.

In the interim, it’s not necessarily only Catholics who will be drawn to programming about Pope John Paul II, Koch’s Gurlitz said.

“This is beyond a single religion,” he said. “This was a world leader.”

Typically, titles like Life & Times of Pope John Paul II from Goldhil Home Media do modest business at bookstores, specialty retail locations and Christian-themed retailers, said Paul Culberg, COO of Goldhil Home Media. But it should see a boost for a few weeks across retail channels, he said.

Coming June 7 from Xenon Pictures is another biographical look at the venerated man, with Witness to Hope: The Life of John Paul II.

Streeting April 19 from BBC Video is the documentary Pope John Paul II: 1920-2005, which showcases exclusive footage from the only television interview granted after Pope John Paul II was elected to the papacy.

HBO Home Video’s Pope John Paul II streeted in February. The double-disc set features a look at the popular Pope’s life and teachings, as well as Easter and Christmas liturgies celebrated by the pontiff.

NBC News Presents: The Life of Pope John Paul II, which is handled by Universal Music and Video Distribution, streeted in January. Bonus features include segments with Keith Miller, NBC’s Vatican correspondent; a “Today Show” episode examining the Pope’s efforts to restore the Sistine Chapel; and a look at the many saints the Church leader named in his 26-year papacy.

Paramount Home Entertainment just last month released the PBS program John Paul II: The Millennial Pope.

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