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Coming to a Screen Near You. Oops! They’re Already There

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The current crop of Academy Award best picture nominees has proven that 1996 was a latecomer’s year, with four out of the five movies still in theaters.

That means that the usual post-nomination rush of theatrical re-releases will be somewhat tempered. Instead, the independent film nominees--unusually well-represented this year--will be getting significant boosts in big-screen distribution.

For blockbusters, on the other hand, nominations mean repeat watchers, said Jeff Blake, president of “Jerry Maguire” distributor Sony Pictures Releasing. “Every time there’s exposure, people seem to go back and see it.”

Here’s a look at upcoming box-office and video plans for the nominees:

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* “The English Patient”: Anthony Minghella’s adaptation of Michael Ondaatje’s wartime tale of love and betrayal was released in November. On Friday, the film will get a post-nomination boost from 1,000 to 1,400 screens nationwide. International premieres are scheduled over the next two months as well. The film has grossed $42 million domestically to date.

* “Fargo”: This dark comedy about a bungled kidnap-for-hire scheme in the northern Midwest, which premiered last March, will have a special re-release run in Los Angeles and New York within the next week. The film will play in two theaters only, unannounced as of yet, in each city. The Joel Coen film is the only best picture nominee now available on video. It was released for rental in October and will be on sale March 4 for $19.95, as will a special collector’s edition. The film grossed more than $24 million during its first theatrical run.

* “Shine”: This Australian film, based on the true story of tortured genius and pianist David Helfgott, will increase its distribution by more than double on Friday, going from 314 to 750 screens nationwide. The film has grossed $16 million domestically to date.

* “Secrets & Lies”: The film about a shaky reunion between an estranged mother and daughter, from British director Mike Leigh, was first released in October. On Feb. 21, the film will be boosted from 100 to 350 screens in the United States. “Secrets” is also slated for an April 15 video release. The film has grossed $6.8 million domestically and about$32.4 million worldwide.

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* “Jerry Maguire”: The only big-studio nominee for best picture, this story of the trials and loves of a sports agent played by Tom Cruise will maintain its already wide distribution of 1,900 screens. It will be released on video in late May, and makes its first major international debuts in Europe on Friday. The film has grossed $121.3 million to date.


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