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DVD allows for extra viewing

U hopes to cash in on coin, Oscar chances with discs

RENEWAL
ABC has renewed its contract to broadcast the Oscars for six more years, through 2014. The current pact ended in 2008.
“We are delighted to have reached this agreement with our historic broadcast partner,” said Frank Pierson, president of the Academy. “By the end of this new extension, ABC will have carried 38 consecutive Oscar telecasts.
The Academy Awards have consistently been ABC’s top entertainment program of the year.

Throughout early February, Academy Awards voters were treated to TV commercials, and magazine and radio ads for picture nominee “Ray,” all part of a DVD release campaign conducted by Universal Studios homevideo.

“Ray” is the only picture nominee out on DVD, but whether that will improve its chances for an Oscar win is impossible to say.

As any homevideo exec will attest, the main purpose of an awards-timed DVD release is to sell more discs. A release winning over awards voters is an iffy proposition at best.

The release campaigns, however, do keep the film front and center at a critical time.

In the case of double Oscar nominee “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (actress, original screenplay), Universal initially released the film on DVD in late September with a star-studded launch party coordinated with Focus Features to remind voters of the film during nomination season. They then followed it up three months later with a two-disc special edition in January to refresh memories.

The collector’s edition even included a booklet that seemed directly aimed at Acad members, noting critical reviews and admonishing “Don’t forget the best reviewed and most original film of the year,” which plays off the film’s memory-related subject matter.

In the end, whether “Ray” takes home the picture Oscar or not isn’t likely to make a difference for U homevideo. The studio hasn’t released any numbers, but “Ray,” out Feb. 1, almost certainly got a bump in retail orders because of the hype from its seven nominations, enabling the studio to accomplish its main goal — make more money.

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