A new DVD specialty label, Twilight Time, featuring limited editions of vintage 20th Century Fox films, was launched Tuesday. The first film under the Twilight Time banner is John Huston's rarely seen 1970 spy thriller, "The Kremlin Letter," which will be available Jan. 25. A new title will be offered on the last Tuesday of each month thereafter.
Only 3,000 units of each title will be made available for a limited time, geared to the classic-film DVD collector. Besides the disc, the package will come with an eight-page booklet about the movie, featuring original essays, stills and poster art, and in some cases, the musical score. Priced at $19.99, Twilight Time titles will be available only at http://www.screenarchives.com.
After "Kremlin Letter," the label will release Richard Fleischer's 1955 melodramatic thriller "Violent Saturday"; the 1964 aviation thriller "Fate Is the Hunter," with Glenn Ford; the 1957 musical "April Love," with Pat Boone and Shirley Jones, and the 1954 epic "The Egyptian," starring Jean Simmons and Victor Mature.
"I wanted to come up with five films that had never been released on DVD in the United States and five films that were basically different genres," says Nick Redman, a filmmaker and restoration specialist who came up with the idea for Twilight Time with 30-year Warner Bros. veteran Brian Jamieson. "That way, we would say to our potential audience we are going to go right across the map. The common denominator is that these are, for the most part, '50s and '60s widescreen classics."
Twilight Time is following the same blueprint Redman drew up nearly 20 years ago with his 20th Century Fox series of limited-edition soundtracks. In 1993, Redman was asked to go deep into the Fox music vaults to see if there were any scores from films from the 1940s, '50s or '60s that could be released on CD "and see if anyone was interested," Redman says. "We created a deal with the American Federation of Musicians for a limited-edition market where we would address the 3,000 to 5,000 people in the world who care about soundtracks."
Craig Spaulding, who has owned and operated Screen Archives for the past 35 years, was thrilled when Redman approached him about Twilight Time. "I worked with Nick on releasing some Fox film scores a number of years ago," Spaulding says. "Then he got this idea about the DVD thing where they had isolated scores and I said we would like to be the distributor."
Most studios have focused on promoting and releasing contemporary titles on DVD, with vintage titles taking a backseat — much to the chagrin of classic film fans. Several studios have initiated a manufacture-on-demand DVD line for vintage titles that appeal to limited audiences. Warner Bros. was first out of the starting gate with Warner Archives, followed by Sony and MGM/UA. Most of these manufacture-on-demand titles don't contain many extras.
Redman feels that releasing classic titles in this method devalues the studios' catalogue. Presenting the films in a limited-edition package with far more extras than a manufacture-on-demand DVD provides a "bit more cachet to them," he says.