"The Enchanted Christmas," Disney's straight-to-video sequel to "Beauty and the Beast," sold several million tapes and topped the video sales charts after its debut just a month ago.
Its most likely successor is another cartoon sequel: "The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island," which Universal Studios Home Video released this week for $20. The spinoffs to this series about baby dinosaurs are becoming an annual holiday event, and the fifth chapter doesn't break with tradition.
Once more there's a smattering of mild music (three new songs by the team that worked on the third film), the return of a favorite character (Chomper from the second film) and a storyline that's only mildly dramatic (the herds must search for a new home because a cloud of "Swarming Leaf Gobblers" have ravaged the landscape). Don Bluth, who created the original "Land Before Time" (1988) but didn't do the sequels, recently had his first theatrical hit since 1988: "Anastasia."
Several films that had very limited theatrical play are also, in effect, going straight to video.
"For Roseanna" (formerly "Roseanna's Grave"), which played at last spring's Seattle International Film Festival, stars Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl ("The Fisher King") as the dying wife of an Italian trattoria proprietor (Jean Reno) who wants to fulfill her wish to be buried in the crowded local cemetery. The Village Voice's Jennifer Vandever wrote that it "starts to feel like a wacky Italian version of `Knots Landing.' Though admittedly it's a version with much more charm and a much better locale."
Mark Joffe's "Cosi" is an offbeat but rather sappy Australian comedy about an unemployed director (Ben Mendelsohn) who uses mental patients to stage a production of Mozart's opera, "Cosi Fan Tutte." The New York Times' Stephen Holden wrote that it "never really decides what kind of movie it wants to be." Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths, both from "Muriel's Wedding," have key roles.
Canadian director George Ungar's "The Champagne Safari," a reconstruction of business tycoon Charles Bedaux's 1930s trek through the uncharted Canadian Rockies, won praise from The New York Daily News as "a brilliant illumination of a storied life that is still shrouded in mystery." Using extensive film clips and diaries, it follows Bedaux through his World War II alliance with Hitler and his 1944 suicide.
Its distributor, First Run Features, is also handling "In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine," John J. Michalczyk's hour-long documentary about the Nazis' justifications for their sterilization laws, eugenics and use of humans as guinea pigs.
Also bypassing theaters:
"Bombshell." Henry Thomas, the boy from "E.T.," plays a scientist who discovers a fatal flaw in a cancer-killing drug. Madchen Amick is his girlfriend, Frank Whaley is his assistant and Brion James is the drug company's oblivious president.
"Ms. Bear." Ed Begley Jr. plays the dismayed father of a seven-year-old girl (Kaitlyn Burke) who adopts a baby bear named Masha. This family film was shot in Vancouver, B.C.
"The Creeps." Charles Band directed this low-budget throwback to the 1940s Hollywood horror films that brought several famous monsters together. Phil Fondacaro plays Dracula.
"Lolita 2000." Writer-director Sybil Richards' erotic science-fiction tale, set in a future time when sex is illegal and the title character becomes an underground rebel.
"Stranger in the House." Steve Railsback stars in this thriller about a botched diamond burglary and the murder of a publishing-company executive.
"Ultimate Fighting Championship No. 12: Judgment Day." Heavyweight fight film starring Jim Mullen, Tra Telligman, Dan "The Beast" Severn and Mark "The Hammer" Coleman.
"Bounty Hunters." This Michael Dudikoff vehicle sets out to prove that because of the bail-bond system, "bounty hunting is a thriving profession with its own universities, internship programs, tax forms and ethical standards and practices."
"Casualties." Thriller starring Mark Harmon as a stranger who helps an abused wife (Caroline Goodall) after they meet at a cooking class. Video Watch by John Hartl appears Thursdays in Scene. For more information call the Video Hotline on InfoLine, a telephone information service of The Seattle Times. Call 206-464-2000 from a touch-tone phone and enter category 7369. It's a free local call.