‘Howards’ ends up on vid June 2

Hoping to secure more post-Oscar revenue, Columbia TriStar Home Video announced the June 2 video market release of triple statue winner “Howards End.” Reps promise the arthouse fave will become the biggest mainstream crossover ever.

To attract vid customers in markets where the film never played, images of young romantic leads Helena Bonham-Carter and Samuel West have been replaced in nationwide print ads by Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.

“This is a major breakout for the entire arthouse genre, not just this film” says Paul Culberg, Columbia TriStar Home Video exec VP of domestic distribution. “And with Emma winning best actress, we’re using that star power right up front.”

Though Culberg refuses to discuss the exact number of units to be shipped, he does claim the figure will be 40% to 50% higher than any foreign film previously distributed in the U.S. The film will retail for $ 39.95 in the laser disc version, and is for rental only in the VHS and 8mm formats.

Despite Academy Awards for best actress, adapted screenplay and set design, the Edwardian drama recently has been unable to expand theatrically beyond its initial success. Last week, the Sony Pictures Classics release was still showing on 547 screens nationwide, but dropped to 392 this week. Sources attribute this to disappointed exhibs dumping the film after it failed to win best picture.

But its B.O. curve, culling a steady $ 600,000 last weekend, indicates that E.M. Forster’s tale of class division will surpass the $ 25 million domestic theatrical take of previous Merchant-Ivory hit “A Room With a View.” To date, “Howards End” has made $ 24.5 million.

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