September 26, 2004

Paramount Answers Call for John Wayne DVDs

LOS ANGELES - Noteworthy films starring the legendary John Wayne will be available on home video for the first time, thanks to a new deal between Batjac Productions and Paramount Home Entertainment.

Batjac -- a production company Wayne founded -- will introduce new DVDs of "The High and the Mighty" (1954), "Island in the Sky" (1953), "Hondo" (1953) and "McLintock!" (1962) next spring through Paramount.

Some Batjac projects not starring Wayne also will make their DVD debuts under this new agreement. Spring releases will include "Man in the Vault" (1956) with William Campbell, "Plunder of the Sun" (1953) with Glenn Ford, "Ring of Fear" (1954) with Clyde Beatty, "Seven Men From Now" (1956) with Randolph Scott and "Track of the Cat" (1954) with Robert Mitchum.

Batjac president Gretchen Wayne -- widow of John Wayne's son Michael -- says multiple studios pursued distribution deals for the Wayne titles because they had not been seen by the public since they aired on TV in the 1980s.

"What interested me in Paramount was their passion for the projects," Wayne says. "We have received many letters from fans asking when we are releasing these titles. Fans are going to be thrilled. They will be getting the very best."

"The High and the Mighty" DVD, for example, was created from a restored print and features 5.1 sound. Each Wayne DVD will include bonus features taken from Batjac's library: behind-the-scenes footage, new interviews and commentaries. The non-Wayne films also will feature extras.

Most of Wayne's other film projects were already distributed on video through Paramount, which now counts 63 Wayne projects under its purview. Other major Wayne pictures, including "The Searchers" and "Stagecoach," are available through Warner Home Video, while Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment also distributes some Wayne westerns.

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