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Real 'Beauty' Laser Out in '93

October 02, 1992|DENNIS HUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Disney's animated feature "Beauty and the Beast" is released on laser disc, it won't be the same version that appeared in theaters--or that's coming out on video Oct. 30. The theatrical version won't be out on laser until next September.

Laser disc dealers aren't happy about the situation.

What laser fans will get is a $50, double-disc "work in progress," with some sequences consisting only of pencil sketches. Essentially a collector's edition with no appeal to the large kiddie audience, it's in CAV form (with still-frame capability) and includes supplemental material of interest to animation buffs, such as a preliminary sketch of the climactic scene.

David DelGrosso, executive vice president of Image Entertainment, which distributes Disney's laser discs, said this collector's version will be released a week or two after the video.

"It looks like most people will buy the video--even some laser fans," DelGrosso said.

The main reason for the delay is fear of video piracy. "Disney has a strong feeling about letting laser discs, which make great masters for duplication of videocassettes, out in the market too soon," he said.

Disney's concern is for the international market, where the theatrical version isn't scheduled for release on video until next fall. Laser discs released in this country could easily be copied and sold in foreign countries before then.

Unlike videocassettes, laser discs can't be encoded with Macrovision, a signal that foils copying.

A spot check of laser disc dealers found dissatisfaction with Disney's decision. They called it a step backward for the laser business, which is always striving to release movies at the same time as the cassette.

Laser dealers haven't been happy with Disney anyway because some of the company's animated hits, including "101 Dalmatians" and "The Great Mouse Detective," still aren't on laser.

Upcoming on Video: Some of the major summer titles have just been announced for fall release. The biggest is "Lethal Weapon 3," starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, due out Dec. 3. "Patriot Games," the thriller starring Harrison Ford, is scheduled for Nov. 24. The Goldie Hawn-Steve Martin romantic comedy "Housesitter" is due out Dec. 2, along with "Prelude to a Kiss," which stars Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan.

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