D’Works to bow colossal ‘Gladiator’ DVD

Massive homevid marketing campaign on horizon

DreamWorks is hoping to slay all comers in the DVD arena with its elaborate double-disc special edition of “Gladiator” on Nov. 21. Package will include more than four hours of extra material — among the most for a release of a recent theatrical hit.

Studio is expected to announce today that it is mounting its biggest single marketing campaign ever for homevid. Release includes a rental-priced VHS edition, but most of the media blitz slated for Thanksgiving weekend will focus on the DVD edition, the most elaborate ever created by DreamWorks.

Company officials are said to expect near-record initial sales of 2 million to 3 million units and anticipate that the pic — which generated $185 million at the domestic B.O., the second highest tally of the year — will be the best-selling DVD of the year.

The price point of $29.99 (comparable to some standard edition releases) will help. It is also one of the few titles to feature both Dolby Digital and the space-hogging DTS surroundsound on the same dual-layered disc featuring the 2-1/2-hour movie, just as DreamWorks’ “American Beauty” will when it is released on Oct. 24.

The second dual-layer disc contains all the extra features, which include 11 deleted scenes with commentary by director Ridley Scott; a complete film audio commentary by Scott; a seven-minute montage of never-before-seen footage put together by editor Pietro Scalia exclusively for the DVD edition; and HBO and TLC cable specials related to the movie.

While some upcoming DVD releases, including Universal’s “U-571,” are being held for release by several weeks after the VHS version, DreamWorks is releasing both editions simultaneously in hopes that the strategy will help the title become one of the biggest rentals of the fourth quarter as well.

That’s a new approach for DreamWorks, which has released titles such as “Saving Private Ryan” and “American Beauty” first on VHS only at a rental price, and months later at a reduced price on VHS simultaneously with the titles’ debut on DVD.

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