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Byline: Greg Hernandez Staff Writer

A stunning Best Picture loss at the Academy Awards has not prevented "Brokeback Mountain" from being rushed out on DVD next month even as it remains among the top 20 highest-grossing movies playing in theaters.

The controversial film about two cowboys in love, starring Oscar nominees Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams, is scheduled for release April 4, Universal Studios Home Entertainment announced Monday.

"As one of the most talked about movies of the year, `Brokeback Mountain' has not only established a new benchmark in filmmaking but it has also permeated the public consciousness to an unprecedented level," Universal Studios Home Entertainment President Craig Kornblau said in a statement.

"Brokeback," which had grossed $82 million as of Sunday, did win three Academy Awards for Best Director for Ang Lee, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score.

Studio sources said Universal had decided on the DVD release date some time ago but kept it under wraps in order to ride the Oscar wave at the box office. But the film's theatrical run is clearly losing steam with "Brokeback" in just over 500 theaters last weekend and a more than 50 percent drop in ticket sales from a week earlier.

Now "Brokeback" will attempt to benefit from the post-Oscar buzz that has turned surprise Best Picture winner "Crash" back into a top seller despite being released on DVD in September.

"The Best Picture win kind of gave it a second wind," said Ralph Tribbey, editor of DVD Release Report, an industry newsletter. "Plus, a lot of people never saw this film."

"Crash," rereleased on a limited number of big screens after the Oscars, had grossed just $54.2 million domestically as of Sunday, extremely low for a Best Picture winner. But revenue from DVD is expected to dwarf its theatrical take.

As of Monday afternoon, "Crash" was No. 3 on the hot seller list behind "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and "Good Night, and Good Luck," a film co-written by and co-starring George Clooney and nominated for multiple Oscars.

A two-disc special edition of "Crash" featuring a director's cut of the film goes on sale April 4, the same day "Brokeback" is out.

The "Brokeback" DVD will come with several bonus features including a profile on Lee, interviews with Ledger and Gyllenhaal and screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, and a feature on the making of the film.

"We are confident that this DVD will profoundly resonate among consumers and that (it) will quickly become an integral part of every DVD collection," Kornblau said.


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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 21, 2006
Previous Article:HEAR TODAY.

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