"The Bear," starring Gary Busey as college football coach Paul (Bear) Bryant, was one of Embassy's brightest hopes for the fall season, when, goes the reasoning, America's thoughts turn to football. But.

On September 28 it opened in the South and Southwest, presumably its strongest markets, assisted by a $5 million promotional campaign. In its first weekend it made a weak $1.2 million. In the next three weeks it added only $1.5 million more, and dropped to the second feature spot on neighborhood theater double bills. Embassy then decided to change plans and spend the bare minimum when the movie opened in the North.

And that ought to be the end of the story -- another flop, ho hum. But in the case of "The Bear," executive producer-financier James Hearn has decided that he can succeed where Embassy failed, and has taken the nearly unprecedented step of buying the film back from the studio. His plans reportedly call for a re-edit (restoring some of the 14 scenes previously cut), a new campaign that relies heavily on rock radio stations, test marketing in two eastern cities to see if the youth-oriented approach works and, if it does, a re-release in the South and then a nationwide break.