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Buy the DVD at your local art house?

Buy the DVD at your local art house?

Is this the future of direct sales? Of movie-going?

Theaters to offer Criterion title a week before street date

“Landmark Theatres visitors will be able to exclusively purchase Criterion Collection’s The Last Emperor for one week prior to its wide retail bow on Feb. 26. (Click for our review.)

Streeting at the exhibitor’s 58 locations on Feb. 19, Landmark is pricing the title for $49.99.

This marks the first time the Landmark chain has offered an exclusive sales window on a DVD. Landmark does regularly sell titles at its concessions area, focusing on art-house content to match what it tends to carry theatrically.”

As a member of the “exclusive film club” (an elite group of people who fill out a box online asking for email updates!), I got an email from Landmark explaining the plan:

Dear Film Club Member,

Landmark Theatres patrons will get an exclusive, one-week opportunity to purchase Criterion’s 4-disc special edition release of Bernardo Bertolucci’s gorgeous epic, THE LAST EMPEROR, before its wide release on February 26. Landmark, known for its in-theatre retail sales of uncommon and hard to find DVDs, books and CDs, will stock THE LAST EMPEROR at its theatres nationwide one week early, starting February 19.

Bernardo Bertolucci’s THE LAST EMPEROR won nine Academy Awards® unexpectedly sweeping every category in which it was nominated—quite a feat for a challenging, multilayered epic directed by an Italian and starring an international cast. Yet the power and scope of the film was, and remains, undeniable—the life of Emperor Pu Yi, who took the throne at age three, in 1908, before witnessing decades of cultural and political upheaval, within and without the walls of the Forbidden City. Recreating Ching dynasty China with astonishing detail and unparalleled craftsmanship by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, THE LAST EMPEROR is also an intimate character study of one man reconciling personal responsibility and political legacy.

The film was previously only available in a basic, one-disc version, and has been out of print for years. The new release features four discs of material, including an all-new, restored high-definition digital transfer of the film, supervised and approved by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, commentary by director Bernardo Bertolucci, producer Jeremy Thomas, screenwriter Mark Peploe, and composer-actor Ryuichi Sakamoto, multiple documentaries, interviews with Composer David Byrne and Bertolucci, and more.

The DVD will be available for purchase at all participating Landmark Theatres locations for $49.99 (nearly $10.00 off the SRP) starting February 19.

Read all about it in Video Business.

As video sales falter, and video stores fall, does an exclusive one-week window at these movie theatres–traditionally NOT a hotbed of DVD sales–make sense?

How will this impact overall sales? (I suspect, not very much.)

Wouldn’t it make more sense for Landmark hold nightly screenings of the film during this one week window–and then, as Prince did on his Musicology Tour, include the DVD with the purchase of a ticket? Or in this case, offer a ticket to the show with the purchase of a DVD?

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