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The Refrigerator and Gastineau Get 'Wrestlemania'; : The Shrinking Beta Population and VCR Projections

January 31, 1986|DENNIS HUNT | Times Staff Writer

What will the Fridge do next?

Apparently the William (the Refrigerator) Perry, the Chicago Bears' lovable behemoth, will spend at least part of the off-season wrestling. Word has been leaking out, partly through trade journals like Electronic Media, about an April tag team match that will include the New York Jets' defensive end Mark Gastineau.

That match will mostly likely be taped and released on cassette by Coliseum Video as "Wrestlemania II." The first "Wrestlemania," released last year, was a blockbuster that helped fuel the current wrestling video craze.

Will the Fridge be paired with Gastineau? "Probably," speculated Steelman Rocco, the Video Insider magazine columnist who's an expert on wrestling video. "It would make sense to have them on the same team."

According to Rocco, neither the promoter nor Coliseum will discuss the project. He speculated that the cassette would most likely be released in June.

How will the Fridge do as a wrestler? Probably quite well. Despite his bulk, Perry is considered an exceptional athlete. As a football player, he is quite versatile, playing a little of everything for the Super Bowl champion Bears--defensive tackle, running back, blocking back, quarterback and pass receiver. Wrestling cassettes are now coming out so fast that it's hard to keep track of them. Rocco, who sees them all, said three recent releases are decidedly superior: "Rowdy Roddy Piper's Greatest Hits" (Coliseum, $59.95), "Monsters of the Ring, Part I" (USA, $59.95) and "The WWF Wrestling Classic" (Coliseum, $39.95) which features a Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper match.

ODDS 'N' ENDS: At the recent electronics convention in Las Vegas, discussions with video company executives indicated that Beta is continuing to fade. One Embassy executive said reports indicate that 45% of stores don't carry Beta. Due to the shrinking Beta population, companies are releasing fewer and fewer titles in Beta. According to the latest figures, there are an estimated 2 million Beta machines in the country.

The results of a study by Wilkofsky Gruen Associates on the American home entertainment industry were revealed this week by the trade publication Video Week. Some of its interesting projections for 1995:

--Cassettes will do $20 billion in retail business, roughly five times the current figure.

--We will spend only half our viewing time watching network TV and 25% watching cassettes.

--85% of homes will have VCRs.

--8 mm, despite its current struggle for acceptance, will have 30% of the market.

"John Lennon Live in New York City" (Sony, $29.95) will be available next week. It's a 55-minute cassette of a 1972 concert Lennon performed at Madison Square Garden featuring nearly all post-Beatles material. Surprisingly, the same show will be telecast on Showtime in March, which could affect the cassette's sales and rental business.

NEW AND COMING MOVIES: The worst-kept secret in the industry is the spring release of Paramount's "Witness." How it fares in the Oscar derby will effect its release date. If it wins some major awards, the cassette should be in the stores shortly after the ceremonies. If it doesn't win any, the cassette release will probably be delayed a month or two, insiders say.

Released this week: "The Coca- Cola Kid," with Eric Roberts, on Vestron at $79.95; "My Science Project," a teen fantasy/adventure with John Stockwell, on Touchstone at $79.95; and two $79.95 CBS-Fox movies, "The Man With One Red Shoe," a comedy starring Tom Hanks, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger adventure "Red Sonja."

OLD MOVIES: Ingmar Bergman's 1978 drama, "The Serpent's Egg" (Lightning, $79.95) is due out next week. Though not considered great Bermgan, it's worth seeing since a sub-par Bergman effort is better than most movies. It's about two trapeze artists (David Carradine and Liv Ullman) who stumble onto some scary medical experiments in Berlin in the early 1920s.

Also from Lightning next week, "Masque of the Red Death" (1965), directed by Roger Corman and featuring Vincent Price as a tyrant who's into torture. Fans of Price's horror movies regard this as one of his Top Five. Price: $59.95.

On March 13, MCA is releasing a James Stewart series, including "The Glenn Miller Story" (1953), noted for its sound track, and "Bend in the River," a 1952 wagon train drama--co-starring a young Rock Hudson--that may be Stewart's best Western.

KID VID: "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird" is due out March 17 on Warner Video. Since it retails for $79.95, it will probably do best in the rental market. Warner Video is releasing "Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer" at the same time. It's a full-length animated feature about the battle between the spunky heroine, Rainbow Brite, and an evil princess. At $79.95, it, too, will mostly do rental business.

Four volumes of Jim Henson's cable-TV series, "Fraggle Rock," comes to home video in March. The shows center around a fantasy land filled with cuddly characters. The four half-hour cassettes will sell for $24.95.

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