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Warner Continues Releasing Films From Oscar-winner Zaentz

3 May, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Warner Home Video has signed a five-year extension to its global distribution agreement with Oscar-winning film producer Saul Zaentz.

Through the agreement, Warner Home Video will continue to distribute most of the films produced by Zaentz, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984). Both films won best picture Oscars and were made outside the major-studio system, with Zaentz obtaining financing and then partnership with United Artists and Orion Pictures, respectively, to theatrically distribute his films.

“Saul is a real trailblazer in independent film production,” said Ron Sanders, president of Warner Home Video.

In addition to Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, Zaentz's credits include a third best picture winner, 1996's The English Patient, which he produced for Miramax Films. Four other Zaentz films have been released on DVD by Warner: the 1978 animated version of “The Lord of the Rings”; 1986's The Mosquito Coast, which Zaentz executive produced; 1988's The Unbearable Lightness of Being; and 1991's At Play In the Fields of the Lord, which Warner released internationally only. In the pipeline: 1973's Payday, with Rip Torn, and 1980's Tell Me a Riddle, both of which are scheduled to make their DVD debuts early next year.

Warner also will release One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus in both high-definition disc formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, in February 2008, in time for the 80th anniversary of the Academy Awards.

“There's no producer who has the kind of acclaimed small library that Saul Zaentz does, given the pictures he controls are so lauded in the history of the Oscars,” Sanders said. “He doesn't control a huge library, but a very important library, and as with the original launch of DVD, we believe these movies will be pivotal releases in generating momentum for the next generation of packaged media.”

Warner Home Video has been distributing Zaentz's films since the launch of DVD 10 years ago. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, in fact, were among Warner's very first slate of DVD titles, dispatched to seven cities in a March 1997 test launch.

“Our decade-long partnership has been tremendously rewarding,” Sanders said. “And by distributing some of his greatest films in high definition, we'll ensure the best home entertainment viewing experience for a new generation of fans.”

“Warner respects the passion I hold for my films, and I am very comfortable with our relationship,” Zaentz said. “I am appreciative of the studio's overall dedication to marketing and promoting my films, and I look forward to continuing our partnership.”

In 1996 Zaentz was honored by the Academy with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, for his lifetime achievement as a producer. He also received the 2003 Academy Fellowship from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

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