New Battle for 'Game,' 'Unforgiven,' 'Men' : The three movies are scheduled to hit the home-video market in the beginning of July.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Its looks like "The Crying Game"--with its notorious secret--is coming to home video much earlier than expected: July 7, from LIVE Home Video.

This puts the movie in a tough spot.

That's the same day Warner is putting out Clint Eastwood's Oscar winner "Unforgiven." It's also one week after Columbia TriStar's "A Few Good Men," the military courtroom drama starring Tom Cruise and Demi Moore, hits the video market.

These three films slugged it out for the best picture Oscar and now the battleground has switched to the home-video market. Once again, "The Crying Game" may lose.

Video store owners, with limited budgets for the purchase of rental copies, generally use box-office gross as a gauge of renter interest and order accordingly. "A Few Good Men" ($135.9-million gross) and "Unforgiven" ($91.1-million gross) call for huge orders, so as video-store budgets are taxed to the limit during this buying period, owners may opt to purchase fewer copies of "The Crying Game" ($57.1-million gross).

LIVE obviously wants "The Crying Game," which stars Stephen Rea and Jaye Davidson, to come out while it's still fresh in the public's mind, but a switch in release dates is possible--but to what? July is already loaded with hit titles. Warner is releasing another blockbuster, "The Bodyguard," starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, on July 7, and "Malcolm X" may come out later that month. Tentative for early August: "Falling Down" and "Sommersby."

Video Bits

There's another new wrinkle in that "McLintock!" mess. In case you've forgotten, both MPI and GoodTimes recently released videos of this long-awaited 1963 Western, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, both selling for $20. But the MPI version, duplicated from a superior master, looks and sounds much better.

To keep MPI from getting all the "McLintock!" business, GoodTimes is now offering an improved tape, made from a higher-quality master. From now on, the company will only ship the better tapes. If you own one of the inferior old ones, return it to the store and you'll get a new one. . . .

"A Brief History of Time," Paramount's documentary about physicist Stephen Hawking, was due out on home video last week but the release date has been moved to June 9. It's a marketing ploy to take advantage of a Hawking guest shot on a Paramount series. He's featured in an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," airing about June 20 in most cities. Publicity for the episode may increase public awareness of Hawking. . . .

Non-theatrical video market note: Greenwood/Cooper Homevideo's "The Gay Man's Guide to Safer Sex," the explicit British video, is now available in the United States. Some Americans know about it because of the furor it caused in England last year. Of course, you won't find this 55-minute tape at the average video store. But you can order it, for $50, (800) 959-9843. . . .

In last week's item about "Aladdin," there was an incorrect figure in reference to how much money that Disney's animated film "Beauty and the Beast" had generated as the all-time home-video sales champ, with more than 20 million units sold to video outlets. Using the average discount price $17, that comes to a staggering $340-million gross.

Even so, the record still seems doomed. When "Aladdin," which has topped $200 million in box-office grosses, comes out Oct. 1 on home video with a $25 price tag, an ultimate shipment of 25 million to 30 million units isn't out of the question, according to distributor forecasts.

New releases

"The Distinguished Gentleman" (Hollywood, $95). Once again, Eddie Murphy tries vainly to resurrect the sassy rogue he played in his big box-office hits of the early '80s. In this comedy, he portrays a hustler who schemes to get elected to Congress. But the rascal turns into a crusader--and this promising political satire turns conventional sitcom.

"Trespass" (MCA/Universal, no set price). Firefighters (Bill Paxton and William Sadler) hunting booty in an old factory invade the territory of gang members (Ice-T and Ice Cube). A barely passable entertainment despite good performances and strong action sequences.

Upcoming

"A River Runs Though It," "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Hellraiser III" (May 19); "Toys," "Hoffa" and "Used People" (May 26); "Howards End" (June 2);

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