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‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ RACES ‘COP’ TO VIDEO STORES

Times Staff Writer

The war is on. It’s “Ghostbusters” versus “Beverly Hills Cop” for supremacy in the holiday home video market. RCA/Columbia, which is releasing “Ghostbusters,” just made a clever, strategic move.

The RCA/Columbia execs didn’t like the fact that Paramount, which has “Beverly Hills Cop,” muscled in on the “Ghostbusters” home video release period. In late August, RCA/Columbia announced “Ghostbusters” would be in the stores Oct. 31. Two weeks ago, Paramount decided to put “Beverly Hills Cop” on the home video market Oct. 30.

Largely in retaliation, RCA/Columbia is releasing “Ghostbusters” a week early, on Oct. 23. Said one source: “The company wasn’t thrilled that Paramount decided to put out ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ at the same time as ‘Ghostbusters.’ Switching to an earlier release date gives ‘Ghostbusters’ an edge. It also eases the pressure on the distributors. Now they won’t have to deal with two monster titles at the same time.

“ ‘Ghostbusters is by far the biggest title that company (RCA/Columbia) has ever had. They put together a million-dollar ad campaign for it. They’re going to do everything they can to help it in the home video market.”

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Moving back the release date might help RCA/Columbia briefly in the rental market, giving “Ghostbusters” a week without “Cop” competition. But “Cop,” most likely will win in the end. It will be just as popular with renters and, at $29.95, will outsell “Ghostbusters,” which is priced at $79.95.

But Paramount might not take this release-date change lying down. Will the company decide to put out “Cop” before Oct. 23? Tune in next week.

WRESTLING: It is the trendy sport of the year. Since spring its success has spilled over into the home video market.

“Wrestlemania” (Coliseum, $39.95), the videocassette of a March wrestling extravaganza, has been a big seller. It’s currently No. 5 on the Billboard magazine sales chart and has been in the Top 10 most of its chart life, which began in early July. Another hit is “Hulkmania” (Coliseum, $59.95), a homage to wrestling’s No. 1 personality, Hulk Hogan.

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Steelman Rocco, a pseudonym for a video executive who’s the wrestling video expert for Video Insider magazine, said this is only the beginning. “So far wrestling is the only sport that has made it big in the home video market,” he said. “These people like to watch wrestling on TV, so they’ll go out and get wrestling cassettes of their favorite stars. I look for wrestling to get bigger and bigger on video. At the end of this year there should be about 35 titles out. That’s good when you consider wrestling just got started on home video early this year.”

A big question among wrestling fans now is whether there will be a “Wrestlemania II.” The execs at Coliseum Video aren’t talking, but Rocco speculated that a Nov. 7 wrestling event in Chicago may wind up as “Wrestlemania II.”

“It should be out before Christmas,” he said. “I expect the price ($39.95) to be the same.”

Releasing wrestling cassettes so soon after the event is a boon to sales, Rocco noted: “The beauty of the home video business is that cassettes can be manufactured and in the stores while the event is still fresh in people’s minds. Wrestling fans don’t have to wait forever to get what they want.”

KIDVID: Here’s a clever and probably effective way to get youngsters interested in the Bible. This week, Children’s Video Library, for $39.95, is putting out “Bible Stories: Tales From the Old Testament,” consisting of an hour’s worth of cartoon versions of Bible stories like “Adam and Eve” and “Noah’s Ark.”

The queen of kidvid, Shari Lewis, has made another cassette, “One-Minute Bedtime Stories” (Worldvision, $24.95), that should delight the kiddies. The half-hour tape, available Oct. 9, includes 26 stories, such as “Rip Van Winkle” and “Rapunzel,” told Lewis-style, using puppets, animals and music. My favorite is “Sleeping Beauty.” This cassette is Lewis at her best.

Disney isn’t the only studio with a vault full of cartoons. Warner Bros. has packaged its classics and on Oct. 7, is releasing nine cassettes at $19.98. Each is an hour long and contains eight cartoons, featuring a character like Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig, made between the 1930s and the early 1960s. The best of the bunch are “Daffy Duck: The Nuttiness Continues” and “Speedy Gonzales’ Fast Funnies.” We all know how funny Daffy is but Speedy is possibly the most underrated cartoon hero. His collection includes his classic “Tabasco Road.”

The Top Children’s Cassettes, according to Video Insider magazine:

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1--"Pinocchio” (Disney).

2--"The Care Bears Movie” (Vestron).

3--"The Transformers, Vol. 1" (Family Home Entertainment).

4--"The Transformers, Vol. 2" (Family Home Entertainment).

5--"Rainbow Brite--Monstromurk Menace” (Children’s Video Library).

ODDS ‘N’ ENDS: The advance word on “Jane Fonda’s New Workout” (Karl, $39.95), due out on Oct. 16, is that it’s a state-of-the-art aerobics tape. Several reliable sources claim the cassette, her fifth, is far superior to the granddaddy of them all, her first--"Jane Fonda’s Workout.”

MusicVision, which released “We Are the World: The Video Event,” announced that the sale of the cassette has generated a profit of $1.1 million for USA For Africa. The company shipped 200,000 copies, which sell for $14.95 each.

“Quarterbacking to Win” (Morris, $19.95), has Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry explaining the fine points of quarterbacking while Jim Zorn demonstrates. At the time the cassette was made, Zorn was a quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. A few weeks ago he was cut by Seattle, an indication that his quarterbacking techniques are somewhat suspect. But earlier this week he was signed by Green Bay. They obviously think the 10-year veteran hasn’t forgotten how to be a winning quarterback.

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OLD MOVIES: Last week, in honor of the 30th anniversary of James Dean’s death--Sept. 30, 1955--Warner Video released his three movies, “East of Eden,” “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant,” as a $99.95 package. Each can be rented or purchased separately. Of the three, “Giant,” an epic Texas soap opera that would probably appeal to “Dallas” fans, holds up the best. Also in “Giant,” Dean, famous for playing pouty young rebels, gives his only multifaceted, “grown-up” performance as the scoundrel Jett Rink.

“Mikey and Nicky,” directed by John Cassevetes, is a cult favorite that had limited release in 1976. It stars Cassevetes and Peter Falk as two hoods who are targets for a hit man. On Oct. 21, it’s available from Warner Video at $69.95.

From MGM/UA: “Never on Sunday,” the delightful 1960 movie that made Melina Mercouri, who plays a Greek prostitute, a star. Directed by co-star Jules Dassin, it’s $59.95 and out this week. Recently MGM/UA released, at $24.95, “Knights of the Round Table,” the 1953 costume drama starring Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner, which features some of the most spectacular knight-versus-knight combat scenes ever filmed.

NEW AND COMING MOVIES: The new Chuck Norris film, “Missing in Action II: The Beginning” (MGM/UA, $79.95) will probably be the most popular of the week’s three major releases. Another is the last of the “Porky’s” trilogy, “Porky’s Revenge” (CBS-Fox, $79.98), which didn’t generate much interest at the box office. That indifference is likely to carry over to the home video audience.

Artistically, “1918" (CBS-Fox, $79.98), starring Matthew Broderick, is clearly the best of the week’s new releases. It’s a bleak American art film, about effects of a flu epidemic on a Texas town, intended for the sophisticated film fan.

Next week, “Police Academy 2, Their First Assignment,” which should be a big rental hit, is due. There will be a lot of interest in another of next week’s releases--"A Certain Sacrifice,” the tawdry, low-budget flick Madonna starred in about five years ago. It’s on--get this--Virgin Video at $59.95.

TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, RENTALS

1--"The Killing Fields” (Warner Video).

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

3--"The Karate Kid” (RCA/Columbia).

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

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

6--"The Sure Thing” (Embassy).

7--"Starman” (RCA/Columbia).

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

9--"Mrs. Soffel” (MGM/UA).

10--"Stick” (MCA).

TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, SALES

1--"Jane Fonda’s Workout” (Karl).

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

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

4--"Prime Time” (Karl).

5--"Wrestlemania” (Coliseum).

6--"Singin’ in the Rain” (MGM/UA).

7--"Wham! the Video” (CBS-Fox).

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

9--"Pinocchio” (Disney).

10--"Star Trek III: The Search For Spock” (Paramount).


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