'Gods and Generals' tape, DVD to be released July 15

July 06, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Months after it laid a box-office egg, "Gods and Generals" is about to enter the home market.

The Civil War movie will be released on video and DVD on July 15.

According to a sample of local video outlets, some people are anticipating the home version, which includes several bonus features and music videos.

"We had people asking me (about the DVD and video release) as soon as the movie came out," said Kelly White, the multimedia supervisor at Borders Books Music & Cafe in Hagerstown.

"Everybody's hyped up," said Terry Parrish, the store manager at Wonder Book & Video in Halfway.

Parrish said she expects the movie to be "more of a buying item than a rental item."

Filmed largely in and around Washington County, Ronald Maxwell's "Gods and Generals" follows the life of Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson through the early years of the Civil War. It's a prequel to Maxwell's 1993 film, "Gettysburg."


Ted Turner Pictures spent nearly $90 million on the production and promotion of "Gods and Generals," but the movie grossed just $12.9 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo's Web site. Nationally, most movie critics panned it.

Associate Producer Dennis Frye, a Civil War historian who lives outside Sharpsburg, said Turner never planned to recoup his investment at the box office.

He said Turner's company expects "substantial" DVD and video sales. The movie has spawned other properties, too, including a soundtrack and a video game.

The DVD and video to be released on July 15 includes the movie, which is about 3 hours and 40 minutes long, plus:

  • An introduction by Turner.

  • Footage on the making of the movie.

  • A feature on slavery.

  • A segment on the film's historical authenticity.

  • A piece on Jackson.

  • Commentary by Maxwell; Col. Keith E. Gibson, executive director of the Virginia Military Institute Museum; and James I. Robertson Jr., alumni distinguished professor of history at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

  • Bob Dylan's "Cross the Green Mountain" music video.

  • Mary Fahl's "Going Home" music video.

Frye said a second DVD - the director's cut - will be released next year. The date has not been decided. The director's cut will have the entire roughly six-hour film that Maxwell created before he was forced to cut it down for theaters. The longer version is expected to include the Battle of Antietam, which was cut from the theatrical film.

Frye said many people who buy the first release also will buy the second one to see practically two different movies. He suggested that there will be "pent-up" enthusiasm because the film didn't last long in most U.S. theaters and many people missed it.

Darla Shoemaker, the area marketing manager at Borders, agreed that both releases should do well, driven by "hometown excitement."

Maxwell mentioned the DVD and video release at Saturday's Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield. He was there with soundtrack composer John Frizzell as the Maryland Symphony Orchestra performed music from the movie.

Maxwell had just come from promoting the movie's July 4 release in England, Scotland and Ireland, according to Frye and Maxwell's Web site. Frye said there is great interest in the Civil War in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Australia and Canada.

As of Thursday, listed the imminent DVD release of "Gods and Generals" as the 12th-best seller, based on reserve copies ordered.

Shoemaker and White were not sure how many reservations Borders took or how many copies the store expected to receive.

Kaelin Smith, an employee at Video Knights, north of Hagerstown, said she expects local interest to help sell the home version of the movie.

However, she added, "I have not heard one person ask about it."

Kevin Schulz, the co-manager at Wal-Mart in Hagerstown, said no customers have requested the movie there, either.

Many Wonder Book & Video customers have talked about the release, Parrish said.

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