Discount Magic May Drop ‘Aladdin’ to $13 in October


Disney’s “Aladdin,” the most popular animated feature in movie history, is poised to become the biggest moneymaker in home-video history.

“Aladdin” is coming to home video on Oct. 1, priced at $25. Recently it topped the $200-million mark in theatrical gross, making it Disney’s all-time moneymaker.

Currently another Disney animated feature, “Beauty and the Beast,” which came out last year, is the all-time home-video leader, with sales totaling about $20 million. Disney spokesman Steve Feldstein said all indications are that “Aladdin” would top that fairly easily. Distributor forecasts confirm Feldstein’s prediction.

According to distributors, about 17 million copies of “Aladdin” initially will be shipped to retail outlets. Depending on demand, that figure could swell by several million.


Part of the extensive promotional campaign is a $5 rebate from Colgate that will extend to other Disney titles, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Pinocchio.” As usual, “Aladdin” will be heavily discounted, with the price dropping to the $13-$15 range at some outlets.

A $100 deluxe collection’s edition will also be available that will include a “making of” featurette and a CD of the soundtrack.

Predictably, the “Aladdin” laser disc won’t be out until next year. Because lasers can be used to make good video copies, Disney plans to keep the laser off the market--to foil potential pirates--until it’s well past its video peak.

Incidentally, “Aladdin” has been in the news again recently for another reason. Buena Vista, a Disney company, is suing GoodTimes Home Video, claiming the package design and artwork of GoodTimes’ 50-minute cartoon is a simulation of its own “Aladdin” package and characters.


Here’s a tip: In that conflict over the video debut of the old John Wayne Western “McLintock!,” with both GoodTimes and MPI putting out versions, one is clearly better. MPI is the winner because of superior picture and sound quality. Some GoodTimes versions are in the extended play mode, which makes the sound and video even worse. Both cost $20.

When “Damage,” the steamy film that earned Miranda Richardson a best supporting actress Oscar nomination, comes out on video June 16, it will be available with an extra minute of sizzling footage. . . . It’s not official yet, but look for “The Bodyguard” to come to home video in mid-July--about two weeks after Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” makes its debut.

Problems on the laser-disc front: Player sales are still sluggish. According to a report from industry trade group EIA, shipments to dealers were down 18.4% in the first quarter, from last year’s 55,538 to 43,703. Several reasons are offered, but the one that makes the most sense is that the nation’s continued economic woes prevent the middle-class from boarding the expensive laser-disc bandwagon.


What’s New on Video

“Bob Roberts” (LIVE, $95). Writer-director Tim Robbins stars in this up-and-down political parody about a senatorial candidate who looks like a liberal folksinger but is a fascist demagogue underneath. Sharp and funny at first but Robbins goes overboard as it progresses, often losing his satirical touch, making it all seem forced. Warning to Republicans: It’s definitely geared to a liberal audience.

“A Brief History of Time” (Paramount, no set price). Errol Morris’ plodding, often hard-to-understand documentary about genius physicist Stephen Hawking, who’s afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease--exploring him and his theories. When it’s over, Hawking is still a mystery. Rather than hard-edged and illuminating, it’s soft and muddled.

“Enchanted April” (Paramount/Miramax, $93). Feel-good movie about the interaction of four Englishwomen vacationing in an Italian villa, looking to spruce up their lives. It’s predictable, because the women are all stereotypes, but this cliched material gets a considerable charge from the first-rate performances by Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker and Joan Plowright, who received a best supporting actress nomination.


“School Ties” (Paramount, no set price). A working-class teen (Brendan Fraser) is recruited by a ritzy Eastern private school in the ‘50s to play football. He’s a hero until the campus bigots--just about the whole campus--discover he’s Jewish. Co-starring Amy Locane as the hero’s WASP girlfriend, it’s a fairly intriguing, well-acted examination of upper-class anti-Semitism.

“Flirting” (Vidmark). Likable romantic little Australian movie, set in the mid-'60s, about a sweet interracial affair between two prep-school misfits--an intellectual nerd (Noah Taylor) and a black South African (Thandie Newton). Watching them bounce from pitfall to pitfall keeps you absorbed. Nicole Kidman is OK in a supporting role.

“Dr. Giggles” (MCA/Universal, no set price). Larry Drake, who plays office assistant Benny on TV’s “L.A. Law,” is featured as an escaped mental patient who delivers grisly one-liners as he maims patients--getting revenge for the lynching of his father. By normal standards, it’s a bad movie, but, to true fans of the sicko slasher genre, this is “good gore.”

“The Mark of Zorro” (FoxVideo, 1940, $20). Set in 19th-Century Los Angeles, Tyrone Power plays a don whose alter ego is the masked swordsman whose signature is carving Zs all over the place. In a basic good-vs.-evil plot, Zorro battles an unscrupulous tax collector (Basil Rathbone) while romancing a lovely maiden (Linda Darnell). Boasting some dandy sword fights, it’s one of the best swashbucklers ever made.


“Traces of Red” (HBO, $93). In this twist-filled mystery-thriller, a sleazy, lustful cop (James Belushi) tracks a serial killer. If you like the genre, this one is passable because the twists do keep you guessing. Belushi isn’t bad but some low-quality performances--particularly co-star Lorraine Bracco’s--damage the movie.


“The Distinguished Gentleman” and “Trespass” (Wednesday); “A River Runs Though It,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Hellraiser III” (May 19); “Toys,” “Hoffa,” “Used People” (May 26); and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (June 23).