Studios get more creative in running with the packs


Always on the lookout for new ways to market their catalog titles, studio DVD divisions are coming up with increasingly inventive themed collections, now that star and director sets have pretty much been exploited.

Warner Home Video, which has a litany of collections of films by the likes of Oliver Stone, Stanley Kubrick, Clark Gable and James Dean under its belt, has recently released a series of quirky collections aimed at eclectic film buffs.

Among them: "Forbidden Hollywood Collection," consisting of pre-Code films such as "Baby Face" and "Red-Headed Woman"; three boxed sets of film noir classics; and two "Controversial Classics" sets featuring such notorious movies as "I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang" and "The Blackboard Jungle."

Next up: "Literary Classics Collection" (coming March 6), a five-disc collection featuring classic movies based on literary masterpieces. The $59.92 set includes 1962's "Billy Budd," with Terence Stamp in his film debut; the 1950 Gregory Peck starrer "Captain Horatio Hornblower"; the 1949 adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary"; the 1948 version of "The Three Musketeers," with Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, Gig Young and Vincent Price; and both the 1937 and the 1952 screen versions of Anthony Hope's "The Prisoner of Zenda."

"It's like being a kid in a candy store when it comes to creating these collections," said George Feltenstein, Warner's senior vp theatrical catalog marketing. "With such a large library of great films, themes and categories just naturally fall into place."

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment also is in the business of compiling themed boxed collections of movies, after having released scores of sets featuring the films of such notable actors and directors as Michael Douglas, Robert Altman and, in a more contemporary vein, "celebrity packs" of movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney.

Themed collections from Fox include a set of romantic comedies called "The Ultimate Chick Flick Collection," include "The Banger Sisters" and "Ever After," and "The Shakespeare Collection," featuring three modern films based on the famed playwright's works: Michael Hoffman's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" and Julie Taymor's "Titus."

"We're always looking for creative ways to promote catalog sales, and a value-priced collection grouped by some over-arching theme can serve to expose audiences to many incredible films they otherwise might not have seen," said Fox's Steve Feldstein, senior vp marketing communications.