It was a hot August night in El Centro, California. Of course it was, it is the desert (it is always hot in August), but it just never cools down at night out there — the moisture in the air from all of the irrigation in the Imperial Valley seems to trap the heat during the summer. It just makes it worse; in a word: unbearable.
Around midnight, the streets are quiet in this farming community and yet the young staff members (concession, box office, etc.) for both the Crest and the Fox theatres were still there, milling around anxiously await word if it would be OK to have a midnight screening of the new film I was carrying in the truck.
Honestly, I couldn’t recall seeing anything like it. They could watch any movie playing in the two theatres any time they wanted (often while working!), but they had talked (beg, pleaded) the manager/projectionist of the Crest into sticking around after the last showing to screen this particular film. He said sure; he didn’t go to bed until first light anyway, so why not.
As the VP of operations for this small Southern California theatre chain (some 30 screens), I would make the run to El Centro a couple of times each month from Los Angeles with the new films for the week, pick up the ones just completed, deliver concessions and spend some time with both theatre managers — it was a way to maintain contact with these “remote” outposts.
The two film cans contained just another “chop socky” movie; they were becoming all the rage in the early 1970s, especially in our Huntington Park theatre. But to have the high school kids hanging around after midnight to get a sneak of this latest one came as something of a surprise.
The film that everyone was anxious to see was director Robert Clouse’s Enter the Dragon, starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly. It was the first studio-produced martial arts film and it was going to be a monster … the kids were right. They had a blast at their exclusive late night screening of the film, complete with all of the popcorn and sodas they could consume in 98 minutes.
Bruce Lee was already dead (just weeks before the film opened of a cerebral edema), but on that night in El Centro (and in the weeks that followed across the country) a legend was born.
In addition to Lee becoming a film icon, filmmaker Robert Clouse built an entire career around this genre, delivering such films as Black Belt Jones (Jim Kelly, 1974) The Game of Death (this 1978 release was a total cheat of a film … he used footage of Lee from other films that he had appeared in) and The Big Brawl (Jackie Chan, 1980).
Plus, if you look closely, you will spot future film stars Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung in small roles in Enter the Dragon.
On June 11, Warner Home Video will bring to Blu-ray: Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition to market complete with bonus materials that include collectible art cards, a lenticular card and an embroidered patch, plus commentary from producer Paul M. Heller (Truck Turner, First Monday in October, My Left Foot, etc.).
Other bonus treats include three new featurettes — “No Way as Way,” “The Return to Han’s Island” and “Wing Chun: The Art that Introduced Kung Fu to Bruce Lee” — an interview with Lee’s wife, Linda Lee Caldwell, and five vintage featurettes (plus five different trailers for the film).
Also getting a release date this week from Warner Home Video is director Richard LaGravenese’s film adaptation of the Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl novel, Beautiful Creatures.
The ARR for DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (both SKUs include UltraViolet) editions is 95 days and the box office take was a little light at just $19.2 million.
This supernatural romantic tale teams Alice Englert (In Fear, Ginger & Rosa) with Alden Ehrenreich (Stoker, Tetro) with veterans Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons in a magical tale of “casters” (those capable of weaving spells) locked in a battle for the next member of either the dark side or the light side (a battle of good and evil). Romance is in the air, but not all (make that, anything) is as at it seems.
Bonus features, exclusive to the Blu-ray SKU, include six featurettes and deleted scenes (also include on the stand-alone DVD edition).
To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report