Once responsible for two of the funniest flicks ever (Animal House and Vacation — no arguments), the National Lampoon film division has been mired in an ugly decade-long decline. ”They haven’t really made movies in a long time,” says Animal House producer Ivan Reitman. ”They’ve just stuck their name on a bunch of films as a corporate-branding thing.” Happily for anyone who sat through National Lampoon’s Senior Trip, owner J2 Communications recently announced it’s devoting all Lampoon resources to http://www.nationallampoon.com. ”Our deal with [licensee] New Line was disappointing. We had virtually no creative control,” says J2 CEO Jim Jimirro. ”We’re looking for the site to be what the [now-defunct] magazine was in 1970.” There’s no indication the site will be on a par with its print predecessor, but either way, don’t expect a film from them in the next year. Too bad for Chevy Chase fans waiting on Sheboygan Vacation.
Francis Ford Coppola must love the smell of postproduction in the morning. The director will use the Nov. 23 DVD release of his 1979 epic Apocalypse Now as the flagship for the newly formed American Zoetrope DVD Lab, an all-purpose mastering facility located in San Francisco that will handle portions of Coppola’s own back catalog as well as lesser-known titles. The Apocalypse disc features a wide-screen transfer and Dolby Digital sound — plus previously unreleased footage of the destruction of Colonel Kurtz’s (Marlon Brando) compound. ”I wanted to keep creative control of my films,” Coppola says. ”The best way to do this was to own the tools of the trade and have ‘final cut’ on everything. [Eventually], I would like all of my films to be on DVD.” So does that mean a Jack: Special Edition is in the works? Oh, the horror…