TV ‘Gettysburg’ goes theatrical

The reenactment of “Gettysburg” is a battle too big for cable, according to Ted Turner.

The broadcasting mogul’s Turner Pictures announced Thursday that it has pacted with New Line Cinema for a 70mm theatrical release of the four-hour “Gettysburg.” The pic will debut Oct. 8 in exclusive runs at 15-20 major market theaters.

The deal bypasses the planned domestic cable debut of “Gettysburg,” which was directed by Ronald F. Maxwell and stars TomBerenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen and Sam Elliot.

Turner Pictures president Dennis Miller said the two companies agree that “there’s clearly an audience out there that will participate in this film at this length.” There are no immediate plans to cut the movie down prior to its release.

Miller said the pic “is clearly a marketing challenge” that will require positioning the movie as one that “people must see.” He said such films as “Gone With the Wind” and “Lawrence of Arabia” and the play “The Kentucky Cycle” indicate there’s a healthy market out there for “long historical pieces of art.”

“Gettysburg” underscores the trend toward cable pix making their way to movie theaters. Turner Pictures worldwide is selling the movie overseas.

Turner reportedly agreed to put up a portion of the prints and advertising. Both companies are prepping a full-scale blitz for the movie, including a “Making of” special on the Turner Network and a huge Washington premiere at the National Theater on the Monday prior to the debut.

New Line chairman and chief executive Robert Shaye and Miller would not comment on terms.

“Gettysburg” marks the first time Turner Pictures and New Line have teamed on a theatrical release. It also comes at a time when Turner Pictures is stepping up distribution with such titles as the Christmas 1994 release “Pagemaster” and Miramax Films’ July 30 release of “Tom and Jerry.”

Shaye believes Turner “can be counted on to deliver quality entertainment. That’s what every distributor looks for.”

“Gettysburg” punches up the fall schedule for New Line, which includes the Hulk Hogan comedy “Mr. Nanny” and the Nov. 5 release “Man’s Best Friend.” Like “Gettysburg,””Mr. Nanny” and Fine Line Features’ “Short Cuts” are scheduled for Oct. 8 release.

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