Coming Soon: Great Theatrical Performances on Tape
The money will go toward "digitally restoring and encoding the tapes," for securing technology to provide for video streaming on the Internet, and for "the creation of digital video discs," BDE president Basil Hero recently told Variety.
The archive consists of a 300-title library of theatrical productions originally taped for commercial broadcast by networks and by Public Broadcasting Service affiliates such as Los Angeles' KCET and New York's WNET. The videos will be distributed over the Internet, according to founding investor Michael Fuchs, former chairman of HBO and Warner Music. "On the Internet you can focus," Fuchs says. "The fans are there; this is the most efficient way to distribute these titles."
Hero adds that the recordings to be released will be new territory for theater fans, since almost all of them were shown only once. "Virtually every one of these productions has not been seen since it was first broadcast. It's virgin material, particularly overseas."
Hero's company will release about 35 new editions each quarter. Each one cost between $10,000 to $30,000 to digitally encode and restore, he said. New product includes Dustin Hoffman in his first starring role, in Journey of the Fifth Horse, from 1966; Faye Dunaway in Hogan's Goat (1971); and King Lear from 1974, with James Earl Jones and Raul Julia. Coming soon: Laurence Olivier in The Moon and Sixpence (1959); Ingrid Bergman in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1963); and a 1958 production of Wuthering Heights with Richard Burton and Rosemary Harris.