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HBO Pricing "Platoon" Lovers Out of the Market?; : New Releases for Everyone From Art-Lovers to Gore-Fans

August 28, 1987|DENNIS HUNT | Times Staff Writer

HBO may have blown it. Pricing "Platoon," the 1986 best-picture Oscar winner, at a record $99.95 has infuriated many retailers, particularly the small store owners.

At last week's Video Software Dealers Assn. convention in Las Vegas, the "Platoon" price was one of the hot topics of conversation. The Vietnam War drama will debut on home video Oct. 14.

Like all home-video companies, HBO gets no cut of the retailers' rental royalties. The only way it can capitalize on the anticipated popularity of "Platoon" cassettes is by boosting the selling price. But a higher retail price means store owners pay a higher wholesale price for rental copies.

Already about two dozen store owners from around the country have said they are livid about the increase, which is $10 above the $89.95 that's becoming the norm for "A" titles, and have vowed to buy fewer copies. If other retailers feel the same way, that will be bad news for would-be renters: There will be a shortage of "Platoon" cassettes in circulation and you may have a long wait to get hold of one.

Two of the highlights of the star-studded Video Software Dealers Assn. convention involved a veteran star and a relative newcomer. At an opening-night dinner sponsored by RCA/Columbia Home Video, actor Sidney Poitier was awarded the association's presidential award for sustained creative achievement. At a closing night dinner, Michael J. Fox got the video-star-of-the-year award, mainly in recognition of the success of MCA's "Back to the Future." Fox's next home video release, MCA's "The Secret of My Success," is due out Dec. 10 and is expected to be a big rental hit.

COMING MOVIES: Once announced as a Sept. 2 release, Vestron's "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn" is actually out Sept. 30. While gore-lovers are awaiting "Dead 2," they can revel in another grisly sequel, "Silent Night, Deadly Night 2," due Sept. 17 from IVE.

For the art-house crowd, Lorimar's "Swimming to Cambodia," director Jonathan Demme's film of Spaulding Gray's one-man stage show, will be out Sept. 30. For that same audience: "Square Dance" (Sept. 22), starring Jane Alexander and Jason Robards, and RCA/Columbia's "84 Charing Cross Road" (Oct. 15), featuring Anne Bancroft.

Two of the major rentals early next month will be Media's "Mannequin" and HBO's "Hoosiers"--both Sept. 9 releases. For lovers of lowbrow humor: Touchstone's "Ernest Goes to Camp" is out Sept. 29.

Next week: "An American Tail," "Light of Day" and "From the Hip."

NEW RELEASES: Warner Video's "The Mission," directed by Roland Joffe, is what is called a historical highbrow movie--one with sweep, grandeur and lofty themes. Set in South America in 1750, it's about Jesuits who help peaceful Indians battle the callous representatives of two colonial empires. Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons star.

The cinematography is stunning. You may not always understand what it's about--the presentation of issues is often confusing--but it's certainly great to look at. Chris Menges won the best-cinematography Oscar to go with the one he collected two years ago for another Joffe movie, "The Killing Fields."

Though its Oscar nomination for best picture should attract renters, its slow, pious, history-book tone may turn some people off. Warning: The last part of the movie is not for the squeamish. It's filled with slaughter scenes--including child murders--that are as unsettling as the massacres in "The Killing Fields."

Nelson Entertainment's "The Stepfather" is the dark side of such family entertainments as the old "Father Knows Best" TV show. Imagine if Jim Anderson, the ideal dad played by Robert Young in that series, was a maniac out to kill his own family.

The stepfather (Terry O'Quinn) in this high-tension thriller is as wholesome as Anderson--on the surface, that is. Ecstatic when he's the hub of a happy, all-American family, he turns killer when that happiness turns sour. In the movie, he worms his way into a small family made up of a widow (Shelley Hack) and her teen-age daughter (Jill Schoelen), who stumbles onto his secret.

The high-quality of this low-budget thriller--possibly the year's finest--surprised most critics, who expected slash-and-spatter junk. However, the generally good reviews didn't generate much interest in movie-goers. But in the home video rental market, where fans love a good thriller, this has Top 10 potential.

In CBS-Fox's "Dead of Winter," Mary Steenburgen plays three characters. One of them, through most of this thriller, is a corpse. Mainly she plays Katie, an actress who's a dead ringer for the dead woman. A sinister, crippled psychiatrist (Jan Rubes) and his servant (Roddy McDowall) lure Katie to an isolated, country mansion, supposedly to audition for a movie. But they actually plan to use her as a pawn in a blackmail scheme. Set during a snowstorm, this frequently chilling tale is reminiscent of those damsel-in-distress movies that were done so well back in the '40s.

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