An open plea to MGM to STOP releasing FULL FRAME ONLY discs of WIDESCREEN titles. All members help!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Allred, Aug 25, 2003.

  1. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Messages:
    5,568
    Likes Received:
    3,198
    Real Name:
    Josh Steinberg
    I, for one, simply don't get it.

    When studios issue both formats, WS copies sell better. When studios issue both formats on a single disc, "black bar haters" don't protest the disc. When studios issue a film in WS only, you don't see people protesting and refusing to buy it.

    So I guess what I don't get is what made MGM think that if they released these films in WS people wouldn't buy them, and that FS/pan&scan releases will sell more copies.

    I have a whole line of pan & scan titles in my home - they're called videocassettes. If MGM or any other studio is only going to offer me what I have on video, exactly the same but on a round, shiny disc instead of a plastic rectangle, I'm not going to buy it.

    Releasing a product in a way it's never been avaliable for purchase before (i.e. widescreen) can be an incentive for sales.

    Studios are not gods, consumers are not slaves without freedom of choice. If MGM or any other studio offers me a product I want, I'll buy it. If MGM or any other studio offers me a product I do not want, I won't buy it. I'm not going to take the position of "I should be thankful that MGM even makes DVDs and should buy whatever they put out and thank them just for putting something out." If I don't want it, I won't buy it. Releasing a film panned and scanned is something I do not want. I own zero pan and scan only releases on DVD.

    MGM has demonstrated that it can make quality products; I don't need to look much further than the few 007 titles I own to see that. Hannibal is also a great special edition, as is The Last Waltz. The release of The Terminator is pretty solid as well, same goes for This Is Spinal Tap.

    I would love it if MGM could explain why it produces products in a manner that alienates fans and reduces sales. I don't claim to be a business expert; perhaps there is good reason for putting out something no one wants, and if so, I would like to understand why that is.
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    46,180
    Likes Received:
    4,245
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    I posted this in another thread but it bears
    repeating here....

    This is a very disturbing situation and a real
    uphill climb for all of us. Obviously MGM doesn't
    care how the fans feel about these widescreen
    films being modified on a highly advanced video
    format like DVD. You would think the
    studio would hold themselves as responsible as
    curators of a Museum full of treasures. You don't
    take valuable artwork (in this case film) and
    distort its image for public viewing. Do you
    think the artist (in this case the director and
    crew) approves of the studio altering their
    priceless artwork?

    For God's sake, when will studios realize that
    film is an artform and that they are given the
    responsibility of properly preserving that artwork
    for future generations? If they don't, who will?
     
  3. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Messages:
    5,568
    Likes Received:
    3,198
    Real Name:
    Josh Steinberg
    I've often had to explain to friends and family why my movies had black bars on them, back in the days of VHS. The analogy I would use was similar to Ron's; I said that if you went into a museum and chopped off half of a Picasso, you'd be arrested. A bookstore cannot sell you half a book. Anyone who bought a CD and only heard sound from the left speaker would be upset. People get upset if they go to concerts or plays and have obstructed view seats.

    Home video is the only medium where it is common practice to present the audience with an incomplete representation of a piece of work.

    I thought the advent of DVD would allow for consumers to purchase a high end product at an affordable price, that would be as close of a representation of a film that is currently possible to get in a home environment. Leave VHS for the people who prefer pan & scan, and leave DVD for those who care about the movies. That's how it was at first.

    As someone (I don't remember who) pointed out earlier in this thread, when Paramount or Fox or virtually every other major studio announces a catalog title, no one ever has to wonder and worry about "Is it in widescreen?" Only with MGM do we have that problem. MGM seems to have a policy of being the only major studio to repeatedly issue films in ways that are displeasing to consumers and fans, and is incredibly stubborn about listening to the audience, and looking at the other studios to gauge what the current standards for DVD are. Remember in middle school when you'd get into an argument with a kid in the playground about something, and even though you were right and the other kid was wrong, and obviously so (you said the sky was blue, your friend said otherwise), the kid would just keep saying his line over and over and over, as if continuing to stick to his guns and insisting on his (wrong) statements would make them right, if only he kept arguing long enough. Well, it doesn't work like that. MGM can put out fullscreen DVDs to the end of time, but that doesn't make it right, and it never will. MGM is also committed to disposing with the original optical subtitles from films and replacing them with player generated subtitles, which can lead to disastrous results (such as on their "Annie Hall" DVD). Or not presenting 1.66 films in anamorphic widescreen. I don't even have a widescreen TV, but I prefer my DVDs still to be encoded with the highest quality so that when I do have a 16x9 TV, my DVD collection will be ready for it.

    MGM does do its share of high profile releases in widescreen, so I cannot believe that MGM thinks that fullframe is a superior format. I think it comes down to the fact that they just don't care; if a fullframe transfer leftover from VHS or LD is lying around, they'll just repackage it. But here's the thing: if they don't care enough to make a decent product, why should I care enough to buy it?
     
  4. Andy_G

    Andy_G Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2000
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think that the dictum: "follow the money" applies here.

    It has been Kirk Kerkorian’s apparent policy since he acquired MGM to always make a quick buck; damn the long-term consequences. Notice that, in fewer than 15 years, MGM went from producing high quality films like North by Northwest to "no budget" films like Shaft. This policy became even more apparent in 1986 when Kerkorian sold the entire MGM film library to Turner in order to "turn" a quick buck. (This may have turned out to be a good thing for the films--they are now in the safe hands of AOL Time Warner).

    Today, the company that we call MGM is little more than the old United Artists (without the independent flair) and the film library of bankrupt Orion (among numerous others). The company is on life support in the form of its largest film property: The James Bond series (originally a UA product).

    Make no mistake, the friendly folks who work at MGM Home Video probably want to put out the best product possible, but the reality is that they have a primary responsibility to the shareholders (primarily Kerkorian) who would rather not lay out hundreds of thousands of dollars for new film elements and HD transfers.

    Chances are that the transfers we are seeing now were made for VHS in the mid-ninties by Warner Home Video (which had the MGM contract at the time, just look at a copy of an old Bond VHS tape). The majority are in pan and scan and, as long as they cost ittle or nothing to put on DVD, we will probably continue to see them.
     
  5. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2000
    Messages:
    5,961
    Likes Received:
    280


    That's great, but when are they going to put out a proper OAR release of The Secret of NIMH? I'm still waiting for that one.


    MGM gets offended by 'mean-spirited' comments? Well, they have been offensive with their 'mean-spirited' action in not releasing proper anamorphic versions of "NIMH" and other titles.
     
  6. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's a simple as this for me. I had planned on buying Gator and White Lightning when they came out. I had no idea--it never even entered my mind that they wouldn't be available in widescreen. But when I saw that they were pan and scan, I passed. If any studio thinks that pan and scan is the way to go with certain movies, then more power to them. But I won't be buying them.

    Maybe it's a moot point--I don't know. It could be that there was never any way that certain films would see a widescreen release. Or that widescreen was even considered. But it's not the casual movie fans that have DVD collections in the hundreds. And they are certainly not the ones buying special editions.

    I don't know, maybe we all take this too seriously and are a little bit anal about it. Could be. But that's just who we are. This is just how we feel. And we're the fans by and large that appreciate when a studio treats a film with respect and with the effort that was taken. Were not asking for the impossible here. We don't expect special edition fully restored DVDs of every movie. We understand that this is a business. But please--can't you at least throw us a bone here?? We want to be fans of MGM. And no one will sing your praises higher if you come through for us.
     
  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Messages:
    12,636
    Likes Received:
    547
    Real Name:
    Malcolm

    That's part of why the current releases are so maddening. Many of these were issued previously in widescreen, either on LD or via one of the HDTV movie channels.

    The widescreen masters must exist. But for whatever reason, MGM is choosing not to use them.
     
  8. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Messages:
    2,219
    Likes Received:
    1
    One thing about these titles, REAL MEN went pretty much direct to video. I remember seeing the trailer in the late 80's, but the film never came to theatres. Most of the people that saw it (and liked it if anyone did) never saw it OAR.

    CAR 54 had a rather infamous release. On the shelf for years, studio went bankrupt. Again, more people saw it on video than saw it in the theatre.

    MGM does a great job with most of the titles they release. Yes, they fullscreen only some B or C grade titles, but with the amount of films they release, you can't blame them if a couple don't get a proper release. And a lot of the titles they are releasing aren't even MGM titles to begin with. They may not be given the proper elements to make an anamorphic transfer.

    Look at other studios, especially Paramount. They have hundreds of films that they have never bothered to release. That is far worse. MGM can always get around to going back and remastering a title if it is worth it. But other studios can't even be bothered to release it at all.

    And again, these DVDs that are fullscreen retail in the $10 range. A third of the price of what many other studios are selling the titles for.
     
  9. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,391
    Likes Received:
    606
    Actually Jon, I have to disagree.

    My momma used to say (at the risk of sounding like The Waterboy) "if ya can't do something right...don't do it at all."

    All studios have unreleased material. It is not immediately apparent to me that Paramount has an inordinate amount of unreleased materials in comparison to other major studios - if you have stats and numbers please post or point to them. In fact, speaking only for me, I can't think of a Paramount title off the top of my head that I want that is not on DVD, but that's just me.

    And I would much rather have a studio not release a product until a good, solid OAR transfer is available. Secret of NIMH is out: so what? I can't watch that P&S version, it's an atrocity. To me, as an OAR supporter, that title is as good as unreleased.

    Back in 1997, when DVD was new and studios didn't know what they were doing, a few P&S transfers were understandable if not acceptable. But this is 2003. DVD is in the mainstream. OAR is accepted. And someone pointed out, there have been previous OAR versions on LD, so we know there's a master out there in OAR. So why would MGM pull this stunt?

    And price is not a valid argument for not putting out quality. McDonalds has $.49 cheeseburgers but I never buy them. I'm willing to pay $2.49 for a good quality In-N-Out burger.

    Not to mention the fact that there are a bevy of $10-$15 discs in OAR.

    There is simply no excuse for this.
     
  10. Chet_F

    Chet_F Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Messages:
    777
    Likes Received:
    0
    "they(MGM) seem to take great offense to anything mean spirited"

    I believe in the Golden Rule: Due onto others as you would wish them to do onto you.

    If I released a film in FF only then I would expect to be spit on. So MGM get ready.......

    I take GREAT OFFENSE to anything released as only FF so what comes around goes around MGM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    46,180
    Likes Received:
    4,245
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    ...and what's sort of cool is that statistics
    are showing that those "newbie" consumers who
    had been rejecting widescreen two years ago, are
    finally starting to come around and accept the
    black bars. Even though the studios never bothered
    to educate the masses (as we pleaded them to do),
    the masses have sort of educated themselves -- so
    much so that BLOCKBUSTER has declared that they
    are benefiting from WIDESCREEN over P&S.

    One of the big factors helping the widescreen
    cause is the influx of 16x9 televisions that
    align the walls of stores like BEST BUY and
    CIRCUIT CITY. More than ever, people are
    buying 16x9 televisions, with an eye on owning
    a plasma set one day.

    Even the PORTABLE DVD players available today
    are all widescreen formatted.

    For the reasons above, more and more people
    are beginning to see why FULL FRAME is bad news.
    Imagine all those consumers who fought for P&S
    releases two years ago, now buying 16x9 TVs
    and/or PORTABLE DVD PLAYERS and finding out
    that the picture off of those DVDs don't fill
    the entire screen.

    Most all the studios have realized how far we
    have come in the past 2 years alone. You don't
    see most of the majors releasing as many FULL
    FRAME titles as they used to. They know that
    everything electronic has now been formatted
    for 16x9 viewing and that they now are dealing
    with a more educated public who now realize the
    benefits of widescreen.

    You know, I go out to Hollywood every year.
    I usually meet with the video department heads
    during my stay out there. I like to consider
    myself a very reasonable guy who can sit and
    listen to a studio's point of view. When I
    think the studio is in the right, I'll come
    on this forum and defend that studio's position.

    All MGM has to do is explain why they still
    market their DVDs in this manner. I'll be happy
    to meet with any of them and buy lunch in the
    process. If there is truly a point I am missing
    here, I'd love to hear it. I'll even come back
    and defend their position if any of it makes sense.

    Not that I expect any invitation from MGM to
    meet them, but I'll be out in L.A. in 3 weeks.
    Would love to sit down with you guys and really
    hear your side of the story.
     
  12. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Messages:
    1,851
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am very dissapointed in MGM for continuing to release DVDs that aren't in the origional aspect ratio. I'll be spending my money on DVDs from studios who do release their films correctly.

    Oh, I've got 500 DVDs, and purchase at least 4 a month. Sorry MGM.
     
  13. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2000
    Messages:
    1,009
    Likes Received:
    2
    It has been said so many times, but it says it all and bears repeating:

    NO OAR, NO SALE!! EVER!!

    My work here is done.

    -Lyle J.P.
     
  14. Walt Riarson

    Walt Riarson Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2002
    Messages:
    809
    Likes Received:
    0
    Despite my love of the films involved, I too have been disappointed by MGM's unstable selection of what gets Full Frame and what gets widescreen. I love, and purchase all of their horror titles every year because they are all (mostly) widescreen and 16x9. However, some titles (Rage of Honor, Gator, Revenge of the Ninja) for whatever reason were not dubbed widescreen worthy. I'd love to see these films in Widescreen, and really wish MGM would consider a re-release.
     
  15. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Messages:
    11,087
    Likes Received:
    534
    Location:
    Deadmonton
    Real Name:
    Russell
    I average 1 DVD purchases a week, which range from single disc to box sets. I have never bought a FF only disc, and never well. I will only buy OAR discs, and I have not bought any DVD that dosn't allow that option. I gladly double dip to upgrade currently owned DVDs for better transfers/suppliments.

    There are a lot of great DVDs out their to spend my money on without having to compromise, and to bide my time until the studios release their product properly.

    MGM, no OAR= No sale.

    There is no excuse for doing this, not anymore.
     
  16. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Messages:
    2,219
    Likes Received:
    1
     
  17. Andrew Bunk

    Andrew Bunk Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2001
    Messages:
    1,825
    Likes Received:
    0
    Recent MGM titles I would have bought if they were OAR include Remo Williams, Johnny Be Good and Bright Lights Big City. All were passed on.

    NO OAR = NO SALE.


    I'm happy to give MGM my money when it's done right.
     
  18. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,391
    Likes Received:
    606
     
  19. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Messages:
    12,636
    Likes Received:
    547
    Real Name:
    Malcolm

    No we're not. Check the sales charts, or Blockbuster, or Ron's post above. Widescreen routinely outsells pan-and-scan and most studios have come to realize this and are not releasing pan-and-scan only discs. They either release widescreen only or both. Only MGM seems to have their fingers in their ears, going "la la la, la la la, we can't hear you, la la la, la la la".

    And I'd imagine a huge part of the potential audience for a film like "Gator" is film buffs who have invested lots of money in home theater and film libraries, and want their films in OAR. I doubt Joe Public is going to be walking through the aisle at Best Buy, see the disc, and exclaim "Hey, it's 'Gator'! I've been waiting years to buy this on DVD. And even better, it's in pan-and-scan! Yeee Haw!"
     
  20. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,391
    Likes Received:
    606
    Malcolm and Ron - excellent point about Blockbuster's notice re: widescreen.

    WalMart is really the last bastion of P&S. When Blockbuster (who very much represents the "common person" as opposed to us film lovers) admits that OAR is now a viable thing to have in their stores, it's really not a niche thing anymore.

    Six years ago people complained about black bars to me (people in my life, outside of HTF). Now most everyone I know understands the concept and accepts, if not favors, that presentation.
     

Share This Page