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‘The Godfather’ Bids to Become the Capo di DVD Capi

15 Jun, 2001 By: Seth Goldstein

Paramount Home Entertainment has made retailers an offer most can’t wait toaccept.

The studio ships a five-disc set of The Godfather trilogy Oct. 9 with aminimum advertised price of $74.95. It’s “priced to own,” said executive v.p. of sales and marketing Meagan Burrows at the June 11 announcement inNew York, and key accounts in attendance agreed.

Best Buy merchandising v.p. Joe Pagano described the package as a “top five movie” that the chain, which now includes Musicland, was eager to stock. He shrugged off the price, far higher than Best Buy’s usual sellthroughinventory.

Paramount expects to do well in what should be a record fourth quarter for DVD, but executives including Home Entertainment Worldwide president Eric Doctorow deflected questions about unit projections. The domestic record holder remains DreamWorks’ Gladiator at 4 million.Tower Video v.p. John Thrasher thought Godfather would deliver 1.2 million to 1.5 million sets on the street date, a familiar number in Mafialand. HBO Video’s four-disc set of the first season of The Sopranos, which retailed for $100, finished close to 1 million, he noted. The second season is expected on DVD and VHS in late November.

Another of The Godfather’s big competitors this holiday season will be LucasFilm’s Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Retailers listening to the Paramount presentation had an ear cocked for the street dateannouncement from distributor Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, but no luck.A post-production source, who has worked on the Menace transfer to disc, tells Video Store that George Lucas will be prominent in the extras, doing the voice-over commentary and an on-screen interview. Phantom Menace will also include a 60-minute making-of documentary and deleted scenes, he says.

LucasFilm won’t comment on the DVD release, but following a speech at thespring National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Lucas said it would be out in the fourth quarter.

Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola plays a big role in the Paramountrelease, contributing three hours of commentary on disc five. It’s devoted to extras; The Godfather is on disc one, Godfather II on discs two and threeand Godfather III on disc four.

The trilogy should mark a turning point for the studio, among the last to commit heavily to DVD. Executive v.p. David Cuyler predicts the number of Paramount discs will equal VHS units by early 2002 and pass it soonthereafter, a year ahead of schedule.

By December, the installed base of players likely will top 23 million, according to Paramount’s Burrows. The Godfather “is the perfect gift” this Christmas, she added. “The format was made for epics like these.”

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