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HOME ENTERTAINMENT : 'Texas' Retail Release Precedes TV Airing

November 04, 1994|DENNIS HUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Republic Video is trying something new with its three-hour TV movie based on the James Michener novel "Texas."

The normal process would be to show it on television first and then ship it to video stores a few months later. But "Texas," starring Stacy Keach, Patrick Duffy and David Keith, is starting out at video stores--premiering next Wednesday at $50. Then the movie, which is on two cassettes, will be broadcast on ABC three to six months later.

TV, in other words, is the secondary market.

You'd think that once "Texas"--a historical drama about the march to statehood in the early 1800s--was available in video stores, the rentals would cut into its potential TV audience. But Glenn Ross, Republic's senior vice president for marketing, doesn't subscribe to that scenario.

"The rental audience and the TV audience are two different audiences," he said. "One market won't hurt the other market. This is a huge country with a lot of viewers. Some people will rent it but plenty of others won't--and they're part of the potential TV audience."

What Republic is trying to do with "Texas" is create a whole new subdivision within the direct-to-video genre, which mostly consists of low-budget, sex-and-violence flicks. "We want to get the industry enthusiastic about high-quality, high-production-value movies in this genre."

"Texas" has already left the competition in the dust. Shipping a paltry 20,000 units is considered quite an achievement in this market, but the "Texas" shipment totals a whopping 150,000.

The $50 price tag, low for the genre, helped considerably. "At that price, it's much more attractive to retailers," Ross explained. "They can make a profit much faster."

When Republic set out to make "Texas," boosting the direct-to-video genre wasn't its primary goal. The reason it went straight to video, Ross said, is very simple: money.

Producer Aaron Spelling wanted to make "Texas" for television, but the $12-million budget was too high. The direct-to-video plan allowed him to get additional financing that wouldn't otherwise have been available.

"The contribution from the video side because of the direct-to-video plan allowed him to make the film without compromising the quality," Ross said. "If he hadn't gotten the money to make it at a high-quality level, he wasn't going to make it."

The video version is more graphic in terms of sex and violence than what will be shown on TV. "There will be scenes on the cassette that won't be on TV," Ross said. "It's not a huge difference--just a few minutes of footage."

Does Republic have another expensive direct-to-video production on the way?

"We're looking at doing another film like this one in 1995 but no project has been settled on yet," Ross replied.

Special Interest Video

Even fans who contend soccer is boring might enjoy "The Greatest Goals of World Cup USA '94," a thrilling, 45-minute package of highlights from last summer's World Cup tournament. From PolyGram at $15. . . . "Glacier Bay: The Grand Design" is a fascinating look at glaciers--their history and the life around them. From Alaska Video Publishing, the 35-minute tape is $20, (800) 770-4545. . . . An interesting BBC profile of author Anne Rice, called "Anne Rice: Birth of the Vampire," is out on CBS/Fox at $15, just in time for the release of the "Interview With the Vampire" movie, based on her book.

What's New on Video

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (Disney). By far the best of Disney's pre-1990 animated features, this fairy tale has it all: endearing dwarfs, a captivating heroine, comedy, drama and romance. An absolute must for the kiddies.

"The Flintstones" (MCA/Universal). An all-star cast, headed by John Goodman as Fred Flintstone, in a live-action version of the old animated TV series. Hardly a laugh-riot, but nutty, low-brow fun for both nostalgia addicts and kids who like slapstick. Co-starring Rosie O'Donnell and Elizabeth Taylor.

"Jimmy Hollywood" (Paramount). Director Barry Levinson spews venom on Hollywood in what seems to be a black comedy. It's an irritating movie because the main character (Joe Pesci in a silly blond wig) is so obnoxious. He's a struggling actor who turns vigilante after his girlfriend is robbed. Christian Slater is wasted in a role as his dumb buddy.

"The Cowboy Way" (MCA/Universal). A couple of cowboys (Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland) invade New York City on the trail of crooks who've kidnaped a buddy's daughter. A lot of hicks-in-the-big-city, culture-clash humor and routine action sequences.

"High Strung" (ABC). Though he's advertised as the star, Jim Carrey is only briefly in this unfunny 1991 comedy, about a surly children's book writer (Steve Oedekerk). A waste of time.

"Dream Lover" (PolyGram). The dream woman (Madchen Amick) of a well-to-do architect (James Spader) turns out to be a vicious lunatic. The film doesn't inspire much faith or trust in women and should be high on feminists' hit list. As a thriller, it doesn't deliver because the many plot twists don't ring true and the ending doesn't make much sense.

"White Fang II: Myth of the White Wolf" (Disney). In this sequel, the resourceful dog-wolf White Fang and his master (Scott Bairstow) battle crooked gold miners who are trying to steal land from a Native American tribe. OK outdoor adventure with strong appeal to young boys.

"Guarding Tess" (Columbia TriStar). An excellent performance by Shirley MacLaine as a domineering former First Lady who makes life miserable for the Secret Service agent (Nicholas Cage) assigned to protect her. Their conflict generates some good comedy in first half before the movie turns into routine melodrama in the second half.

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