Three big movie franchises return in the coming weeks, but studio executives worry that filmgoers have forgotten about "The X-Files," "The Mummy" and "Batman" since they last appeared in theaters. So Hollywood is revisiting some related DVDs to help prop up the new films.
Six titles come out Tuesday not only with extras related to their contemporary counterparts, but with certificates good for significant discounts on tickets to see the new flicks.
The most creative and useful of the batch is "The X-Files: Revelations" (Fox, $23). The two-disc set is pitched as an "essential guide" to "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," which opens July 25 in theaters.
It has been more than six years since "The X-Files" ended its prime-time run on TV and 10 years since it spawned its only theatrical outing, "Fight the Future." So creator Chris Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz have selected eight meaningful episodes from the Emmy-winning TV series to reacquaint casual fans or initiate new ones.
It's a brilliant marketing idea. After all, those fringe viewers are the people who would make the new "X-Files" movie a mainstream success, not the hard-core fans who are already intimately familiar with the paranormal adventures of FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).
"It was very challenging for Chris and I to choose a handful of episodes to give people a sense of the breadth and depth of the series," Spotnitz says on the DVD. "But these are the episodes that we thought were not only some of the best episodes we did, but really represented the cross-section, the variety of what the series was if you're trying to introduce somebody who wasn't familiar with it to the show."
In brief introductions, he and Carter clue in viewers on what to watch for in each episode, starting with the 1993 pilot (in which Scully is assigned to spy on the kooky Mulder) and ending with the 1999 episode "Milagro" (in which Mulder suspects a neighbor of being a serial killer).
The DVD adds a fan-convention Q&A panel with Carter, Spotnitz, Duchovny and Anderson that runs 27 minutes and a trailer for "I Want to Believe." It also includes a coupon good for $8.50 off a ticket to the new film.
The four DVDs serving as a prelude to "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" -- opening in theaters Aug. 1 -- are more typical cross-promotional efforts.
The two-disc "deluxe editions" of 1999's "The Mummy" and 2001's "The Mummy Returns" (Universal, $20 each) add documentaries on the making of the films, digital copies (for portable video players) and a look at the new movie -- all three films starring Brendan Fraser. Many extras from previous editions are carried over, such as outtakes and commentary tracks.
The repackaging of 1932's "The Mummy" as part of the Universal Legacy Series ($27) is long overdue. Besides repeating extras from a previous release, the two-disc set adds another commentary track and documentaries about the monster and Universal's classic horror films.
The reissue of Jet Li's "Fearless" (Universal, $20) might seem like an odd companion for "The Mummy" films, but the martial-arts star plays the titular emperor of the upcoming film. The new disc contains a director's cut of Li's 2006 film, which adds 35 minutes, as well as an unrated cut and the original theatrical cut.
All four DVDs come with a coupon for up to $7.50 off "Tomb of the Dragon Emperor."
For the July 18 release of the new Batman film, "The Dark Knight," the Blu-ray debut of the previous film, "Batman Begins" (Warner, $29), is doing some of the crusading. The 2005 Christian Bale film was one of the few hits on the obsolete HD DVD high-def format, and fans have been awaiting the Blu-ray redux, which includes the prologue to the upcoming movie.
But if you want the coupon for $7.50 off the new film -- as well as a bevy of collectibles -- you'll have to spring for a limited-edition "Batman Begins" gift set, which goes for $50 on Blu-ray, $40 on standard DVD.
With all of Tuesday's titles, the studios hope DVD sales will translate into box-office sales for their new films.
Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542