Ahoy! Pirate films sail onto DVD

Labels ride coattails of summer's 'At World's End'

If movies do in fact influence pop culture, then we might well be looking at the summer of the eyepatch.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" is one of three much-ballyhooed three-quels hitting the big screen this year — it opens May 25, three weeks after "Spider-Man 3" and one week after "Shrek the Third." But it appears to be the one getting most of the attention in home entertainment circles.

Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment is tying the theatrical opening of the third "Pirates" to the Blu-ray Disc release of the first two films, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which arrive in stores May 22.

Lori MacPherson, the division's GM of North America, said the releases are a calculated move that she hopes will let the Blu-ray Disc format give a decided shot across the bow to its underdog rival, HD DVD, in the quest for a unified high-definition, next-generation disc standard.

"We are thrilled to have a franchise of the caliber of 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' " MacPherson said. "To be able to release (the first two films) on Blu-ray Disc in conjunction with the theatrical launch of the third film is a fantastic opportunity."

On the piggybacking front, Universal Studios Home Entertainment on May 8 is releasing the "Pirates of the Golden Age Movie Collection." The two-disc set contains four 1950s pirate movies: "Against All Flags," "Buccaneer's Girl," "Yankee Buccaneer" and "Double Crossbones," all available on DVD for the first time.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment also is hoping to ride awareness of "At World's End" with a new DVD collection of action-adventure films starring Tyrone Power. "The Tyrone Power Collection," arriving in stores May 1, includes "The Black Rose," "Captain From Castile," "Prince of Foxes," "Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake" and "Blood and Sand." The latter has been fully restored and comes with a commentary by cinematographer Richard Crudo as well as a restoration comparison.