Warner Bros. plans DVD sets for 90th anniversary

Yearlong event will celebrate studio's past

Warner Bros. is opening up its film library — the largest in Hollywood — to celebrate the studio’s 90th anniversary next year.

Studio will release seven new “Best of Warner Bros.” collections on DVD and Blu-ray starting in January as part of a yearlong event that spotlights the company’s moviemaking past.

Anniversary is being marked with a new logo that Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Barry Meyer unveiled Wednesday morning at a press event on the Burbank lot. Studio has operated at its current home since 1928.

WB is the latest major to fete a major anni with restored or updated versions of its pics on homevid and a new corporate logo; Universal and Paramount both celebrated centennials this year.

The largest collection from Warner Home Video will include 100 films on DVD, including all 22 Best Picture Oscar winners in the studio’s 6,800-title library (of which 2,000 are available on DVD or Blu-ray). On its own, WB has won eight best Picture Oscars, with “The Departed” as its most recent.

A separate 50-pic set of films on Blu-ray also will be released. Both limited edition sets — touted as the largest collections of films released in their respected formats — will include the two-hour documentary “Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot,” produced by documentarian Gary Khammar and exec produced by Bill Gerber, specifically for the anniversary.

Docu includes interviews with longtime studio thesp and filmmaker Clint Eastwood, Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Martin Sheen, current and former studio toppers Jeff Robinov, Diane Nelson, Alan Horn, Bob Daly and Terry Semel.

A second docu, “The Warner Bros. Lot Tour,” will take viewers on the studio’s popular Warner Bros. Studio VIP Tour, showing off its backlot streets, soundstages, sets and craft shops.

Studio, which was incorporated by brothers Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner, on April 4, 1923, also will release a 3D version of 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” on Blu-ray next fall, with the studio mulling a theatrical release as well. “The Jazz Singer”; James Dean pics “East of Eden,” “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant”; musical “Cabaret”; “Grand Hotel”; ” Mrs. Miniver”; and “Driving Miss Daisy” also will be released on Blu-ray for the first time as part of the anniversary.

“We’ve put a lot of thought and care into the selection of these classics, and I think the results will be something movie fans — from the casual to the dedicated — will embrace,” said Jeff Baker, Warner Home Video’s exec VP and general manager, theatrical catalog.

Meyer waxed poetic during Wednesday’s presser, highlighting the accomplishments of the studio where he’s worked over the past 41 years, or “well over half of my actual life,” he said. While he’s proud of the studio’s past, “I’m even more excited about it’s future,” he said.

Event, held inside the Steven J. Ross Theater, also was attended by director and producers Richard Donner and Lauren Shuler Donner, William Friedkin, Harry Warner’s granddaughter Cass Warner, actress Jane Withers (“Giant”) and graphic designer Bill Gold.

“My 65-year career began with ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and ‘Casablanca’ and continued on to every Clint Eastwood picture from ‘Dirty Harry’ to ‘Mystic River'” said Gold, who came out of retirement to design the poster for Eastwood’s “J. Edgar.” “In my wildest dreams I could not have foreseen the world I would inhabit and the joy it would bring me over the years. Every poster I worked on had a story to tell, and I’m delighted to be able to share a sampling of some of them in these collections.”

WB’s homevid rollout will also include the following:

•A 40-film collection of Clint Eastwood’s pics produced at the studio bows two weeks before his 83rd birthday next May. Eastwood’s Malpaso shingle has been based at WB since 1976.

• Themed collections of 20 DVDs focus on best picture winners in January, followed by musicals (February), romance (April), comedy (July) and thrillers (September).

• The “Best of Warner Bros. Animation Collections” will be released in three separate sets themed around Hanna-Barbera (May), Looney Tunes (June) and DC Comics (August).

• A Superman TV collection, out in May, includes nine live-action TV and animated TV shows.

The releases will be backed by a major online and social media push, with microsite BestofWB.com serving as a central hub of content for film fans.

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