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DVD Releases for March 23, 2004

March 22nd, 2004

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. Remember last week when I said it was a slow week cause no new release finished on Amazon's Top Ten Sales Chart? This week no new release is in the top 25 and only 2 in the top 50. In a week dominated by box office flops, not-so-special special editions and nearly featureless limited releases, it was a rock band that took my DVD Pick of the Week. Weezer - Video Capture Device 1991-2002 - (Buy from Amazon) is the only DVD I plan to pick up tomorrow. But there are a couple of rentals on the list.

Here's the highlights, (and some lowlights) of the DVDs released today, January 20, 2004.

Beyond Borders - (Widescreen or Pan and Scan)
This was a $60 million bomb when it was released last fall. It failed to open in the top ten and finished with just over $4 million, or about $250,000 per positive review. Quite frankly, I'm surprised it took this long for it to come out on DVD.

Beyond the Mat - Ringside Special Edition - (Buy from Amazon)
A documentary about professional wrestling and the WWF. Shine a light at the dark shadows of the 'sports entertainment', but not as bright as it should have been.

Dirty Pretty Things - (Buy from Amazon)
This film opened in limited release last summer to stellar reviews making $8 million domestically. The DVD is light on special features, but the movie alone should be worth it.

Gothika - (Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan and Scan)
Of all the recent releases on this list, this is the closest one to being a hit; and it earned a few million less than its combined budget. (Did I mention is was a slow week?) Horrible reviews didn't help draw people into the theatres and now a nearly featureless DVD release will keep them away from the home market.

Hercules The Legendary Journeys - Season 3 - (Buy from Amazon)
DVD sets from this series have been excellently done, Anchor Bay Entertainment must be congratulated on their work. Each season box set is getting better than the last. Hours of extras make this a must have for fans of the show, even casual fans would probably appreciate this set.

Honey - (Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan and Scan)
At one point I thought this film would never be released, five changes to the release date will do that. But it finally was released and went on to surprise analysts opening in second place. If its international run can match its domestic run, and it's already more than halfway there, then the total budget will have been covered before the home market. While the reviews were bad there's plenty extras on the DVD to check out.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller - (Buy from Amazon)
This DVD first came out last August, but I wasn't doing this column at the time so I couldn't mention it. This is just a re-release, but it's a must have for anyone who is a fan of Jim Henson's work.

The Madalene Sisters - (Buy from Amazon)
The film is based on real life events in the 1960s in Ireland. Not for the faint of heart, but as the reviews attest, it is worth watching. The extras are light, with just the single documentary on what were essentially prisons / slave labor camps ran by the Sisters of Magdalene Order. One last note, the film was banned in Italy for being anti-Catholic.

The Osterman Weekend - (Buy from Amazon)
Sam Peckinpah is almost as well known for his battles with studios as he is for extreme but "balletic violence," slow-motion shots and bloody violence. This isn't his best work, but it's a fine introduction to those unfamiliar with the rest. The extras are strong, especially for a film released more than 20 years after its theatrical release. Films of this era are usually dumped on the market without any features.

The Point - (Buy from Amazon)
The classic animated TV special from 1971 finally comes out on DVD. Unfortunately, there appears to be no special features.

Ransom - Special Edition - (Buy from Amazon)
This is a special edition only because the original release was so ordinary. The level of special features is well below the average DVD release for a recent movie.

The Richard Pryor Show - (Buy from Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2 or Box Set)
First, let's start with the most important detail, the box set is more than just the first two volumes, in fact almost an hour more. The series lasted only four episodes, partly due to low ratings, but constant battles with network censors also played a part. A head of its time is a good way to describe this show, and it's fun to watch what was controversial in 1977 and compare it to today. On a side note, The Toy - (buy from Amazon) also comes out tomorrow. The Toy tells the story of a rich White Man who buys his son a Black Man for his birthday. Richard Pryor was never one to shy away for a controversial role, and for that he should be congratulated.

The Rundown - (Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan and Scan)
The Rundown is the best theatrical release on this week's on Amazon's Sales Chart and it's currently sitting at #46. With a massive budget, and a much smaller box office, this film cost the studio a bundle. The reviews were surprisingly good, but the film still couldn't connect with an audience. A great set of special feature should help sell more DVDs, but it will be too little too late for this film.

Shattered Glass - (Buy from Amazon)
Biopic about the disgraced journalist Stephen Glass. Like most DVDs for limited release movies, this one is short on extras. But the reviews are strong enough that it should be worth at least a rental.

The Singing Detective - (Buy from Amazon)
This movie has a star-studded cast and an intriguing story line, but the end result was a mess that was all but ignored at the box office. And now it is being dumped on the market, with a commentary by the director as its only extra.

Splash - 20th Anniversary Edition - (Buy from Amazon)
The movie that made Tom Hanks a star. It's another not-so-special Special Edition with a full length commentary with the director Ron Howard and others, a behind the scenes featurette and Tom Hanks' and Daryl Hannah's auditions. Better than the previous release, but not great.

Weezer - Video Capture Device 1991-2002 - (Buy from Amazon)
Weezer have made some of the most inventive music videos and now more than a decade of their work is being released on DVD. And it's not just the videos; there are live performances, audio commentaries, making of featurettes. Definitely my DVD pick of the week.

Will & Grace - The Complete Second Season - (Buy from Amazon)
The highest rank new entry this week on Amazon's Sales Chart at 26th place. This series as been nomination for a huge number of Golden Globes and Emmys and is still going strong in the ratings, well, strongish. Extras are at the same level as the DVD box set for Season One. So if you bought and enjoyed that season, you'll probably do the same with this season.


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Filed under: Video Releases, Gothika, The Rundown, Honey, Dirty Pretty Things, The Magdalene Sisters, Beyond Borders, Shattered Glass, The Singing Detective