Company to ship 100,000 units

Wasting no time, Koch Vision will ship to stores next month more than 100,000 DVDs of “James Cameron Presents: The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” a director’s cut of the documentary that unearthed an astounding 4.1 million viewers on Discovery Channel earlier this month.

Based on archaeological research, the docu posits a number of theses, including that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalen and that the two had a son called Judah. The docu caused a furor among archaeological scholars and religious fundamentalists, pushing Discovery to enlist Ted Koppel to host a discussion with experts following the cablecast about issues raised by Cameron and filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici.

Despite the huge ratings, Discovery also decided not to schedule a repeat of the docu, except on Discovery HD and Discovery en Espanol. The limited cable-TV run could give a boost to DVD sales, said Michael Rosenberg, president of Koch Vision.

Rosenberg made the deal for DVD rights with Cameron, Jacobovici and the other producers. Discovery’s DVD rights cover only sale on its Web site, via catalog and in the various Discovery retail stores. On its Web site, Discovery keeps a low “Lost Tomb of Jesus” profile; you have to type in the title to call up the page that displays it.

Rosenberg said his DVD will be anything but low profile. The director’s cut will be about 15 minutes longer than the version carried by Discovery, and there’ll be more than an hour of additional footage, including an epilogue with Cameron and Jacobovici, interviews with more experts in archaeology, religion and forensic science, and a photo gallery of the tomb uncovered in 1980 in Jerusalem.

But some of the controversy has already reached Rosenberg. The owner of one of the independent videostores he deals with “sent me an email,” Rosenberg said, “telling me how upset he was that I’m issuing such a horrible DVD.”

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