‘Matrix’ on market

Warner Home Video putting emphasis on DVD sales

HOLLYWOOD — Warner Home Video said it plans to release the Keanu Reeves actioner “The Matrix” as both a rental and feature-filled DVD title on Sept. 21, a move it hopes will encourage salivating sci-fi fans to make it the first DVD to sell over 1 million copies.

Video will hit store shelves as a sell-through on Nov. 26, signaling that the studio is decreasing the traditional window between rental and sell-through to nine weeks.

As expected (Daily Variety, June 25), WHV is appeasing fears that the homevideo release of the $170 million grosser could spark scrutiny from lawmakers and activists anxious to root out violent entertainment.

Limited access

The choice of rental limits access by pre-teens and teens to the pic, which features automatic weapons and trenchcoat-wearing characters.

Although the decision to go rental could hurt its sell-through numbers, execs at Warners said that 75% of the rental transactions happen in the first nine weeks. Other execs said an initial sell-through could have earned an additional $50 million.

The DVD edition, to sell for $24.98, will be housed on a DVD-ROM, enabling users to access additional information on the Internet, similar to DVD editions of New Line’s “Lost in Space” and MGM’s “Ronin.”

By accessing the Internet through the disc, users can read the screenplay, view over 700 storyboards and view the scenes. A live Webcast with the pic’s stars will be held 30 days after the DVD hits store shelves.

Helmers Andy and Larry Wachowski reportedly shot scenes for the DVD as production on pic progressed.

The sell-through video release, to sell for at least $14.95, will contain 26 extra minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of pic.

Thomas F. Lesinski, senior veep of Warner Home Video worldwide marketing and development, said pic’s sci-fi subject matter, B.O. success and extra features could make it the biggest-selling DVD to date.

The current record holder is the special edition of MGM’s “Tomorrow Never Dies.” “Titanic” berths on DVD Aug. 31.

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