DVD: 'Manchurian,' 'King Arthur,' 'Napoleon' Invade Stores

by Brandon Gray
December 21, 2004

Eight wide theatrical releases, ranging from disappointments to flops with the exception of one MTV-fueled independent comedy, arrive on DVD this Christmas week.

The Manchurian Candidate had high hopes of becoming the adult alternative of the summer and an Oscar contender. Opening in the wake of Fahrenheit 9/11 and the Democrats' national convention, director Jonathan Demme's remake of the 1962 classic got lost in the election year shuffle as audiences opted for the more escapist thrills of The Bourne Supremacy, The Village and Collateral. Starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep, the $80 million picture nabbed $66.0 million.

Uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer is riding high right now with National Treasure, but last summer he had a rare stumble. Released on the same day as Bruckheimer's unlikely blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean was in 2003, the PG-13 King Arthur was unable to revive the moribund medieval genre, joining the ranks of disappointments like First Knight and Timeline. The $120 million production grossed $51.9 million domestically, although like most historical battle pictures of late, it did much better overseas, pulling in another $150 million. It comes to DVD as an "Unrated Director's Cut."

Fox unleashes Napoleon Dynamite over six months after it bowed in theaters—the preordained independent sleeper hit of summer 2004 that MTV co-sponsored and pushed. Still playing, the $400,000 comedy enjoyed a slow burn at the box office, peaking three months into its run, and has racked up a sweet $44.2 million to date. A sequel is said to be in the works.

More than seven years after Anaconda snaked into theaters and has since slipped from memory, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid swallowed $32.1 million, less than half of the original's $65.9 million.

British import Shaun of the Dead, which production company Working Title dubbed the first "zom-rom-com" (zombie romantic comedy), took in a solid $13.5 million in its modest theatrical release last fall—well timed after the Dawn of the Dead remake played out.

Less than two months after it opened in theaters, Surviving Christmas arrives like a lump a coal. The Christmas comedy starring Ben Affleck bowed on Oct. 22, way too early for a holiday-themed movie, and grossed just $11.2 million.

Universal's two imported family pictures, France's Two Brothers and the United Kingdom's Thunderbirds, hit DVD on the same day following soft summer runs. Tiger movie Two Brothers scrounged up $19.2 million, while Thunderbirds, a $57 million live action version of the '60s marionette TV show, mustered a mere $6.8 million.

Other releases this week include De-Lovely, the drama about Cole Porter that earned $13.5 million in limited release, and the fifth season of The Simpsons.

Click here for the complete list of Dec. 21 releases.

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