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Coppola puts his ‘Heart’ into hi-def VHS homevid

Co. joins Fox, Universal, DreamWorks, Artisan, BMG

Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope studio will make its first foray into the high-def homevideo market Jan. 27 when it releases “One From the Heart” on Digital VHS.

Announcement is expected today in Los Angeles.

Introduced by JVC in late 2002, D-VHS uses high-density vidcassettes to store images and is currently the only high-definition homevid format available in the U.S. Several competing high-def DVD systems are in the works, but none is expected to reach market in the U.S. until late 2005 at the earliest.

So far, Fox, Universal, DreamWorks, Artisan and BMG have released films on D-VHS, but scoring “One From the Heart” is considered a coup for JVC because of Coppola’s personal involvement.

Early high-def backer

“Francis Coppola was an early proponent of high-definition, and it is fitting that his experimental and innovative film would take advantage of this first incarnation of consumer high-definition delivery,” Zoetrope said in a release.

“Heart” is the only one of his films to which Coppola controls all rights.

“The D-VHS format allows the home viewer to see the clarity and magnificence of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s brilliant photography, captured in this stunning new high-definition transfer from the original camera negative,” Zoetrope senior VP Kim Aubry said. “In addition, the soundtrack is completely remixed and remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound from the original 1981 Tom Waits recording studio session.”

Release of “Heart” brings the number of titles available on D-VHS in the U.S. to 69.

Announcement comes on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where high-definition formats are expected to be a hot topic.

Rival standards touted

Both the Sony-led Blu-ray Disc Group and the Toshiba-led HD-DVD camp will be out in force, touting their competing high-def disc standards.

To date, no studio has formally endorsed either of the two Japanese-developed formats, although Sony-owned Columbia is considered a strong backer of Blu-ray.

Meanwhile, the first Chinese-developed high-def DVD players are slated to be introduced in China later this month, based on the Enhanced Versatile Disc standard unveiled in November.

According to Chinese reports, format is to launch with a slate of 400 film titles from China and Hong Kong.

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