WHV at play in fields of Zaentz

Extends global output pact with producer for 5 years

Warner Home Video has signed a five-year extension to its global distribution agreement with Oscar-winning film producer Saul Zaentz.

Through the agreement, Warner Home Video will continue to distribute most of the films produced by Zaentz, including "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "Amadeus" (1984).

Both films won best picture Oscars and were made outside the major-studio system, with Zaentz obtaining financing and then partnerships with United Artists and Orion Pictures, respectively, to theatrically distribute his films.

"Saul is a real trailblazer in independent film production," Warner Home Video president Ron Sanders said.

In addition to "Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus," Zaentz's credits include a third best picture winner, 1996's "The English Patient," which he produced for Miramax Films. Four other Zaentz films have been released on DVD by Warner: the 1978 animated version of "The Lord of the Rings"; 1986's "The Mosquito Coast," which Zaentz executive produced; 1988's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"; and 1991's "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," which Warner released internationally only. In the pipeline: 1973's "Payday," with Rip Torn, and 1980's "Tell Me a Riddle," both of which are scheduled to make their DVD debuts early next year.

Warner also will release "Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus" in both high-definition disc formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, in February, in time for the 80th anniversary of the Academy Awards.

"There's no producer who has the kind of acclaimed small library that Saul Zaentz does given the pictures he controls are so lauded in the history of the Oscars," Sanders said. "He doesn't control a huge library, but a very important library, and as with the original launch of DVD, we believe these movies will be pivotal releases in generating momentum for the next generation of packaged media."

Warner Home Video has been distributing Zaentz's films since the launch of DVD 10 years ago. "Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus," in fact, were among Warner's first slate of DVD titles, dispatched to seven cities in a March 1997 test launch.

"Our decadelong partnership has been tremendously rewarding," Sanders said. "And by distributing some of his greatest films in high definition, we'll ensure the best home entertainment viewing experience for a new generation of fans."

Said Zaentz: "Warner respects the passion I hold for my films, and I am very comfortable with our relationship."
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