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Special video editions

Special video editions -- From Danny Devito to James Cameron, directors enjoy the perk of releasing special editions of their latest films

Forget Range Rovers. The hot perk among Hollywood directors is the right to oversee video ”special editions” of their latest movies. But while Oliver Stone’s recut JFK is on videotape, dozens of auteurs’ reworkings have been released only on laserdisc, from James Cameron’s expanded Aliens to Terry Gilliam’s outtake-laden The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

With laser players in no more than 1 percent of U.S. households (75 percent have VCRs), only a fraction of the home-video audience can see most of these showcase editions. So why are so many limited to laser? ”It’s all about making directors happy,” says a video-industry source. ”If a studio knows a director is a laser loon, they’ll encourage him to do a deluxe version with outtakes or whatever. That way he’s more likely to stay with that studio for his next movie.”

Because laser’s still-frame capabilities allow inclusion of the likes of script pages, production photos, and other ego and reputation enhancers, more and more directors are embracing the format. A disc-only recut of Cameron’s The Abyss, expanded by 35 minutes, is due this spring. Even second-stringers like Martha Coolidge are getting into the act: Make way for Pioneer’s laser-exclusive Special Edition of Rambling Rose, with costume designs, an alternate ending, and ”compelling scene outtakes.”

No director has gone the vanity-press route more enthusiastically than Danny DeVito. For an edition of Hoffa due by late summer, DeVito hired a cameraman to ”chronologue his life,” says his publicist, Stan Rosenfield. Some 150 hours of behind-the-scenes footage have been amassed, ”everything from Danny’s first meeting with (screenwriter) David Mamet to how the finished movie got promoted,” says Rosenfield. Now isn’t that…extra special.