Warner Bros. DVD set explores star's history

The old Hollywood system where actors and filmmakers contractually made all their movies for one studio is long gone, but a new DVD collection covering Clint Eastwood’s 35-year relationship with Warner Bros. will provide a visual representation of what that may have looked like in modern times.

The studio’s “Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros.” hits store shelves on Feb. 16 as a sort of Valentine to the actor and director, documenting his work there since setting up his Malpaso Prods. shingle on the lot in 1975.

The set includes 34 films, ending with last year’s “Gran Torino.” “The Eastwood Factor,” a doc produced by Time mag film critic Richard Schickel, rounds out the set. In it, Eastwood roams the WB lot reminiscing about his years at the studio., visiting past film locations and soundstages.

“I’ve known Clint for most of the time he’s been at Warner Bros.,” Schickel says. “To be able to show him in the places where he works and lives and feels most comfortable is a unique opportunity.”

Two of the films in the collection, “Where Eagles Dare” and “Kelly’s Heroes,” were produced by MGM in 1968 and 1970, and inherited by Warner Bros. when it took over Turner Entertainment’s film library. Eastwood’s 35th film for the studio is actually “Invictus,” which bows Dec. 11 but won’t be released on DVD until later next year.

While other collections have boasted more movies — United Artists’ set celebrating its 90th anniversary included 90 films — the Eastwood set represents the largest collection of DVDs released around one actor or filmmaker to date.

Other collections have also included steeper pricetags, hovering around $300 to $500. The Eastwood collection, that’s been in the works for a year and a half, will retail for $180, with stores expected to discount the set at a lower price.”We wanted to make this available to a broader audience,” Baker says.

What helps keep costs down is the fact that the films will be released on DVD, rather than Blu-ray.

The release of the set is being timed with a promotion of Oscar-winning or nominated films Warner Bros. typically launches around the Academy Awards.

“Clint is synonymous with the Oscars,” Baker says, citing films like “Million Dollar Baby,” “Gran Torino” and “Mystic River.”

The set’s also tied to the bow of Schickel’s book “Clint: A Retrospective” that Sterling Publishing will release around March. A 20-minute version of the Eastwood docu from the DVD set will be included with the book.

As a cross-promotion, a 24-page extract from the book will be included in the DVD set, along with studio letters, photographs and other memorabilia.

“Documentaries are usually done when someone exits the business,” says Jeff Baker, exec VP and G.M. of Warner Home Video’s theatrical catalog. “In this case, Clint felt he needed to talk about what he’s done up to now.”

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