Times Staff Writer

For a while it looked like the “Ghostbusters” videocassette would be the undisputed champion of the holiday season. Suddenly a worthy challenger has emerged.

Paramount Home Video announced Thursday at its annual sales meeting in Laguna Niguel that “Beverly Hills Cop,” the blockbuster movie starring Eddie Murphy, will be in the stores Oct. 30. The most successful movie comedy ever, its domestic gross is $232.9 million. Incidentally, the release date is one day before RCA/Columbia puts “Ghostbusters” on the market.

“Cop” will have an edge on “Ghostbusters.” “Cop” will sell for $29.95 while the “Ghostbusters” price is $79.95. Given that whopping price difference, “Cop” will probably show up in more stockings this Christmas.

Paramount is famous for pricing its big movies relatively cheaply. The standard price for a cassette of a recent movie is $79.95. Paramount sometimes premieres its blockbusters at $20-$40 less.

Both “Cop” and “Ghostbusters” will do terrific rental business and will probably be Nos. 1 and 2 on the rental charts throughout the holiday season. But rentals don’t put money in the studio pockets. That’s all gravy for video retailers. What the video companies care about is sales. It’s hard to imagine “Ghostbusters” outselling “Cop,” considering both are aimed at the same audience. In fact, “Cop” will probably be stealing customers from “Ghostbusters.” News of the “Cop” release can’t make the RCA/Columbia executives too happy.


At the recent Video Software Dealers Assn. convention in Washington, the big announcement was that “Ghostbusters” would be released in time for the Christmas shopping season. It seemed like no other video company with an unreleased blockbuster movie wanted to compete with the “Ghostbusters” announcement. However, there was speculation that, a few weeks after the convention, after the excitement about “Ghostbusters” had died down, some company would announce the release of a Christmas competitor for “Ghostbusters.” Of the unreleased blockbusters--including “E.T,” “The Return of the Jedi,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and “Witness"--"Cop” seemed the most likely Christmas release.

“Cop” will only be available until after the Christmas season. It will be pulled from release--meaning stores can’t reorder--after Jan. 31 for an undisclosed period of time.

“Cop” is part of a general Paramount holiday season promotion once again offering its major titles, such as “Flashdance,” “Trading Places” and “48 HRS.,” at the bargain price of $24.95 from Oct. 30-Jan. 31. The package also includes the home video debut of “White Christmas,” the 1954 Bing Crosby movie.

ODDS ‘N’ ENDS: Consumer Reports has an informative VCR guide that offers some good news to VCR shoppers. It concludes that you can buy just about any VCR and be satisfied. Nearly all VCRs, reports the magazine, are adequate and no one of them is significantly better than another.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the celebrity sex therapist, makes her home-video debut Oct. 14 with “Terrific Sex: The Dr. Ruth Video"--part instruction, part Q and A, part simulated therapy. Though Dr. Ruth doesn’t sing, this cassette, priced at $39.98, is on Warner Music Video.

OLD MOVIES: Just in time for Christmas, the 1938 version of “A Christmas Carol,” with Reginald Owen, will be available on Oct. 15 from MGM/UA at $29.95. A perfect football season release from the same company: “Knute Rockne--All American” (1940), with Pat O’Brien as the innovative Notre Dame coach and Ronald Reagan, in his most famous role, as the great George Gipp. This version, priced at $39.95, includes the celebrated “Win this one for the Gipper” line, which has been edited out of TV prints, like other scenes, for legal purposes.

The highlight of MGM/UA’s “Great Books of Video” promotion is this week’s release of “National Velvet,” the sentimental 1944 family entertainment notable for the performance by young Elizabeth Taylor and Ann Revere, who won the best supporting actress Oscar. Like others in this series, which includes director George Cukor’s 1935 “David Copperfield,” “National Velvet” is priced at $24.95.

In the second week in October MCA is putting out “Fahrenheit 451" ($59.95), the 1966 adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s futuristic tale, featuring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner. Also, MCA is releasing the Boris Karloff horror classic “The Mummy.” Made in 1932, it’s about a resurrected mummy searching for his lost love. Priced at $39.95.

NEW AND COMING MOVIES: This is a light week for cassette debuts of recent films. Fans of the homicidal maniac in the “Friday the 13th” series will be happy to hear that “Friday the 13th Part V--A New Beginning” (Paramount, $79.95) is available this week--which, of course, is blessed with a Friday the 13th.

Next week, the major releases are two big hits, “The Breakfast Club,” starring Emilio Estevez, and the Oscar-winning “Amadeus.” In two weeks, there will be debuts of “Porky’s Revenge"--the finale of the “Porky’s” trilogy-- and “1918,” the somber American art film about a Texas town in 1918, featuring Matthew Broderick.

At the end of this month, another sequel, “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment,” with Steve Guttenberg and Bubba Smith, makes its cassette debut. This one was big at the box office and should be a popular rental.

In mid-October, MGM/UA will put out “Grace Quigley,” an offbeat comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Nick Nolte, which has never had a major release. Because of its lack of distribution as a movie, this is one of those films that could attract a sizable home-video audience.

CHARTS: “Prince and the Revolution Live” isn’t a blockbuster, but it has become a steady, Top 5 seller. Currently, it’s No. 2 on the Billboard magazine sales chart. Though it hasn’t had the impact of “Purple Rain,” “Prince Live” will likely maintain this lucrative pace through the Christmas season.

“The Killing Fields,” expected to be a popular rental, is off to a slow start on the Billboard rental chart, moving up from No. 35 to No. 22. During the next few weeks, it should do better. Many avoided the film in the theaters because of its grim story. But “The Killing Fields” should find a new audience as a videocassette. Also, it debuted at No. 22 on the sales chart.

As expected, “Stick,” the Burt Reynolds movie, is doing OK as a rental--it stayed at No. 12--and not too well in sales--No. 37 on the Billboard magazine Top 40.

The Mel Gibson-Diane Keaton love story, “Mrs. Soffel” (No. 19), isn’t a red-hot rental. Neither is the Richard Gere biblical drama, “King David,” which remained at No. 26.

TOP CASSETTES, RENTALS 1--"The Karate Kid” (RCA/Columbia).

2--"The Falcon and the Snowman” (Vestron).

3--"A Soldier’s Story” (RCA/Columbia).

4--"Starman” (RCA/Columbia).

5--"Desperately Seeking Susan” (Thorn/EMI/HBO).

6--"The Flamingo Kid” (Vestron).

7--"A Nightmare on Elm Street” (Media).

8--"The Terminator” (Thorn/EMI/HBO).

9--"Pinocchio” (Disney).

10--"The Mean Season” (Thorn/EMI/HBO).

TOP CASSETTES, SALES 1--"Jane Fonda’s Workout” (Karl).

2--"Prince and the Revolution” (Warner Music).

3--"We Are the World: The Video Event” (MusicVision).

4--"Pinocchio” (Disney).

5--"Wrestlemania” (Coliseum).

6--"Prime Time” (Karl).

7--"Wham! The Video” (CBS-Fox).

8--"Singin’ in the Rain” (MGM/UA).

9--"Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (Paramount).

10--"Jane Fonda’s Workout Challenge” (Karl).