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Inside Move: Chaplin DVDs spotlight library

Boxed sets, special collections taps into dividends

The DVD arena is making room for a lot of the Little Tramp.

Warner Home Video and MK2 announced an exclusive deal to distribute remastered versions of 18 Charlie Chaplin films. Titles, including “The Great Dictator” and “The Gold Rush,” will feature outtakes, backstage notes, home movie footage and documentaries.

Mining library titles for box sets and special collections is a growing trend. Fox just released its second Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection, and Anchor Bay has an upcoming Lucio Fulci horror collection.

It’s not just pics the studios are tapping: In July, Paramount will release the first season of “I Love Lucy” in two volumes, and Columbia TriStar rolled out its “All in the Family” collection in March.

The decision to repurpose “name” talent into such high-profile boxed sets is proof positive that DVD has tapped into a revenue stream that the video format never quite grasped.

“DVDs are the first real convergence product, since content is easily accessible,” says Warren Lieberfarb, president of Warner Home Video. “It’s a perfect format for classic filmmakers, whereas video is linear and analog with little versatility.”

Repackaged DVD collections also serve other marketing efforts; when the Chaplin titles are released, MK2 plans to re-release “Dictator” for a theatrical run in France. In fact, it’s now common for library-title DVD releases to be paired with theatrical re-releases. Universal put “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” back in theaters March 22, leading up to the DVD release in August.