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Article about special editions w/ info regarding Titanic bonus material

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Article about special editions w/ info regarding Titanic bonus material

Old 03-29-05, 06:19 PM
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Article about special editions w/ info regarding Titanic bonus material

Special editions go full steam ahead

By Thomas K. Arnold, Special for USA TODAY

This year, in time for the holiday shopping season, the biggest movie of all time will reappear on DVD as a two-disc special edition and a lavish four-disc collector's edition.

Titanic, due in October, follows an increasingly popular formula in Hollywood of cranking out bigger and better DVDs a second, third or even a fourth time.

New Line perfected the strategy with its three Lord of the Rings films. Each year, a two-disc DVD arrived in the spring and was followed, right before Christmas, by a four-disc gift set featuring an extended version of the movie and lots of extras.

Reissues can be big sellers

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Released 8/02. 12.6M copies sold.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended. Released 11/02. 7.4M copies sold.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Released 8/03. 13.2M copies sold.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended. Released 11/03. 6.8M copies sold.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Released 5/04. 10.9M copies sold.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended. Released 12/04. 5.6M copies sold.

Terminator 2. Released 1997. 600,000 copies sold.

Terminator 2 Ultimate. Released 8/2000. 1.5M copies sold.

Terminator 2 Extreme. Released 6/03. 1.2M copies sold.

Source: Home Media Research

The strategy more than paid off, New Line president Stephen Einhorn says. "Consumers have spent nearly $400 million on The Lord of the Rings special extended editions, accounting for more than a third of the total."

Steve Beeks, president of Lions Gate Entertainment, says double dipping is a tried-and-true strategy at his company, which has served up no fewer than three editions of 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day:

In 1997, the bare-bones release sold 550,000 copies.

In 2000, the "Ultimate Edition" (with an extended version of the film) sold 1.5 million copies.

In 2004, the "Extreme Edition" (with a high-definition version of the film) sold 1.2 million copies.

Reissues often are driven by technology, Beeks says. "There are more and more ways for us to improve and enhance the viewing experience."

But, he cautions, "there has to be a viable reason to create another special edition. You can't fake the consumer out."

One of the most viable reasons is a bigger audience for DVDs.

Says analyst Tom Adams of Adams Media Research: "A lot of titles that were put out when DVD first came out now have the opportunity to do some real sizable numbers through special editions. People are reminded that they loved the movie and don't have a DVD version yet because they weren't among the households that had a player when it first came out."

Titanic, for instance, arrived on DVD in 1999, in the format's infancy, just two years after it collected a record-breaking $600 million in theater grosses and a year after earning 11 Academy Awards, including best picture.

Its single disc with hardly any special features sold about 1 million copies. That wasn't bad back then, when fewer than 5% of all U.S. homes had a DVD player. (And since then, U.S. consumers have bought 3 million more copies.) Today, DVD players are in nearly 70% of all U.S. households.

"When we released the original Titanic DVD, the industry was much smaller, and bonus features were not the standard they are now," says Meagan Burrows, Paramount's president of domestic home entertainment.

Such "extras" also can help make a reissue worth the effort.

The new editions of Titanic will be full of them, including:

A branching feature (on both editions) that allows viewers to access nearly an hour's worth of unused footage at the precise spots where the scenes were cut.

A two-hour documentary (on the collector's edition) now being assembled by Cameron and producer Jon Landau. Cast and crew members, including Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, will participate.

Interviews with studio executives, who, Landau says, let viewers in on "the odyssey that was the making of the film." Says Cameron: "We're taking fans on an untold journey, one which could have ended just as disastrously as Titanic's maiden voyage, and often seemed as if it would."

Though the October DVDs will be Titanic's big splash, the well is not likely to then go dry. New technology will bring a high-definition version, and probably others.

"These titles all have long legs," Adams says. "Academy Award winners sell forever."
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