×

‘West Side Story’ dances to Blu-ray

MGM tuner celebrates 50th anni with new release

After successfully hyping the 45th anni of “The Sound of Music” last year, 20th Century Fox is taking the promo stage again to sell MGM musical “West Side Story” 50 years following its bow in theaters and marking its first time on Blu-ray.

In April, MGM renewed its deal with Fox to handle the release of its homevideo titles through 2016, a relationship that began in 2006. Fox has considerably more marketing resources to bring to bear on behalf of the MGM titles,especially as the latter has been working over the past year and half to maximize its assets after its latest reorganization.

Now, with the Lion ready to roar again, MGM will release a collector’s box set for “West Side Story” on Nov. 15, and is turning to Fox to push the pic through a variety of high-profile events leading up to the launch.

Push marks the first in a series of homevid launches to promote MGM’s extensive film library, which includes the James Bond franchise, “The Pink Panther” comedies and “Rocky,” all of which will also get anniversary relaunches starting in 2012.

“This film is to MGM what ‘Sound of Music’ is to Fox,” said Mary Daily, exec VP of marketing in North America for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. “It’s a perennial classic.”

The limited-edition “West Side Story” box will include a two-disc Blu-ray set, a restored DVD and tribute CD that includes covers of “I Feel Pretty,” by Julie Andrews, along with a 40-page hardcover photo book and other collectibles, such as the original animated title sequence and one-sheet created by Saul Bass (“Psycho,” “Vertigo”).

MGM previously released “West Side Story” on DVD in 2003, and has sold 4 million units since.

New gift set will retail for $49.99 while individual Blu-ray will be priced at $19.99.

A series of promo efforts will take place now through November, including this weekend’s screening of “West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl, and live perf of Leonard Bernstein’s score, with David Newman conducting the L.A. Philharmonic. It’ll mark the first time the score has been played by an orchestra since it was recorded in 1961.

That event will be followed by similar screenings and perfs in New York City in September and Chicago in November. Additional screenings in theaters are also planned.

“When you have a property like ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Sound of Music,’ where the music is so important and the spectacle is so important it just makes a lot of sense (to have screenings) where the audience can have a collective experience,” Daily said.

Promo push will see cast members, including Rita Moreno, making appearances. The film and some of its songs, including “Maria,” “America,” “Tonight,” and “I Feel Pretty,” will be integrated into various TV shows that air on Fox, similar to how “Glee” themed an episode around “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” when that musical had its Blu-ray debut. That effort aimed to court younger audiences who may not have been familiar with the 1975 pic.

Similar effort around “The Sound of Music,” which included most of the cast reuniting on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” helped make the box set the top live-action catalog seller in 2010.

With DVD sales declining and Blu-ray still growing, studios are looking for every reason to get consumers excited about a home-video launch, even if it’s an older catalog title. An anniversary certainly helps.

Launches of older pics on Blu-ray come as 27 million households now have a player for the format in their homes.

“We’re seeing many people revisiting their favorite films or experiencing them for the first time,” Daily said.

And with the box sets, “What people want is something that’s collectible and meaningful and a complete compendium, as possible, to that title. We try to look for things that people haven’t seen before or haven’t seen the light of day in a long time. That’s our jumping-off point.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content