Details are continuing to emerge about the most astounding video news of the year: Warner Home Video's decision to release "Batman" Nov. 15 for $24.98.
The tape will lead off with a Diet Coke commercial featuring the "Batman" character Alfred the Butler (Michael Gough). Alfred is seen calling a Gotham City store to order the soft drink while Batman races to pick it up in the Batmobile. The commercial, filmed while the movie was in production, also will be seen on television in November.
A videodisc version won't be ready until early next year, but at least it won't be burdened with the ad. Nor will the 8mm or Spanish-subtitled tape versions, also due at that time. No prices have been announced for any of these.
Industry watchers have been predicting that the "Batman" tape will sell between 9 million and 11 million copies. Even though that wouldn't top the "E.T." record of 14 million, parent company Warner Bros. may still make \o7 more\f7 from the "Batman" video than from its theatrical release.
Even though "Batman" has grossed $240 million so far and may make, say, $300 million before the theatrical run is over, only about half of that box-office revenue comes back to the studio. However, the manufacturer gets a bigger cut in the marketing of a video. If the video sells as predicted, it will gross between $250 million and $300 million--$150 million to $200 million of which will go to Warner. Holy VCR!
All that good Bat-news may be bad news for Disney's home-video companies. Their "Bambi" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" looked like they'd lead the video Christmas parade until now. A lot of people may be choosing a bat instead of a bunny or a buck for a Yuletide gift.
THIS WEEK'S MOVIES
When "Skin Deep" (Media, $89.95, R) came to theaters earlier this year, it sold $20 million worth of tickets based on its star (John Ritter), its writer-director (Blake Edwards), and an ad campaign that touted an allegedly hilarious and outrageous scene. Now, with this week's release of "the comedy that glows in the dark," you can fast-forward to that scene, or watch the entire film--all about a hard-boozing womanizer.
Two other 1989 films that were considerably less successful at the box office will be looking to recoup losses this weekend at the video store. "Jacknife" (HBO, $89.99, R) stars Robert DeNiro as a Vietnam vet coping with postwar life. "Dream a Little Dream" (Vestron, $89.98, PG-13) is another switch on the body-switching plot: two old folks (Jason Robards, Piper Laurie) exchange places with two teen-agers.
If you have a weakness for those colorful, often ridiculous biblical spectacles that Hollywood made during the '50s and early '60s, you can indulge yourself this weekend with "David and Bathsheba," "The Egyptian," "Sodom and Gomorrah" and the actually pretty decent sequel to "The Robe," "Demetrius and the Gladiators." They're $39.98 each from CBS/Fox.
For more refined tastes, Connoisseur Video is releasing the little-seen but highly respected silent "Die Niebelungen," Fritz Lang's vision of the Nordic myth about heroes and magical dwarfs, for $59.95. Also: Maurice Pialat's "Under the Sun of Satan," a 1987 French film about a troubled priest (Gerard Depardieu) and Manuel Gutierrez Aragon's "Demons in the Garden," a 1982 film about a boy's upbringing in post-Civil War Spain ($79.95 each).
Other new films-on-tape: "The January Man" (CBS/Fox, $89.98, R), a cop-serial killer drama starring Kevin Kline, "Edge of Sanity" (Virgin Vision, $89.95, R and unrated versions), another creepy film starring Anthony Perkins, and "Moontrap" (SGE, $89.95, R), a sci-fi adventure starring Walter Koenig ("Star Trek's" Mr. Chekov).
OTHER NEW VIDEOS
For $19.98 each, you can have a two-hour concert--"Genesis: Invisible Touch Tour"--or see an 80-minute history of an even more veteran English band: "Jethro Tull: This Is the First 2000 Years." Both are from Virgin Music Video.