Criterion riding DVD wave with 9 releases

The Criterion Collection, which has made a name for itself among cinephiles by distributing high-quality laserdisc editions of classic and contemporary films, has announced plans to add the emerging home-theater medium of digital videodisc (DVD) to its catalog starting early next year.

Criterion announced an initial run of nine DVD releases, including several classic films from directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, as well as more recent films from Hong Kong actioneer John Woo. The company expects to release approximately 25 titles on DVD by the end of 1998.

“Our mission on DVD will be the same as it has been on laserdisc,” said Criterion president Peter Becker. “We are going to provide a coherent, truly remarkable annotated film library for the home viewer.”

First among Criterion’s DVD releases are: Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes,” Akira Kurasawa’s “Seven Samurai,” Fellini’s “Amarcord,” Jean Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Francois Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows” and Jean Renoir’s “Grand Illusion.”

Roy Ward Baker’s “A Night to Remember,” the memorable 1958 film about the sinking of the Titanic, will also come out on Criterion DVD.

And on a more contemporary note, Criterion announced plans to release two pics from Hong Kong action director John Woo: “Hard Boiled” and “The Killer.”

Prices will range from $29.99 to $39.99, only slightly higher than most announced DVDs from other companies, but somewhat less than the average Criterion laserdisc, which can sell for more than $100.

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