Ron's Top Studios Pick List

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Peter, Dec 31, 2001.

  1. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

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  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Ryan,

    I placed MGM high because I felt they are the

    most IMPROVED studio this year.

    Besides the top 3, MGM was the studio that

    tried harder than everyone else. Last year, the

    studio was putting out shoddy transfers with

    little to no supplemental material. This year,

    their transfers look so much better and the content

    of their discs has vastly improved from themed

    animated menus to extras that come very close to what

    the other studios have been doing.

    The mere fact that they agreed to do a live chat

    with us earlier this year, knowing they would be

    heavily criticized -- and then spending the rest

    of the year bettering themeslves -- puts them closer

    to the top than the rest of the pack.
     
  3. Michael Dueppen

    Michael Dueppen Stunt Coordinator

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  4. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

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    For the most part, I totally agree with Ron's assessment of the studios. Indeed, Fox and Dreamworks deserve their place at the top of the list, but I'm not so sure about Paramount. They did put out some great DVDs this year, but I still don't feel like they quite top what other studios, like Columbia Tri-Star.

    MGM has also surprised me a great deal. In less than a year they went from shit to hit. I have much less trepidation when I buy a DVD from MGM now. In fact, when I see one of their recent DVD releases in a store, I expect it to be very good. I hope they read this because I would like to tip my hat to them for doing such a good job and for listening to what we have to say.

    The studios I am most at odds with this year are Universal and Warner Bros., for their continued and growing support for Pan & Scan DVD releases. Warner in particular pushed my buttons when they announced that the release of family titles in widescreen will happen on a case-by-case basis. This makes me very angry, and I hope that the studios get their act together soon and take a stand on this issue in our favor. P&S has lived on long enough. It's time for it to meet its end.
     
  5. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    Well I would say if there was anything to find fault with Ron's rating of MGM is that in the little blurb about MGM he failed to make mention of how they are pushing the low cost end of DVD Sales, so I will do it now.
    MGM has been releasing catalog titles and doing them mostly in OAR 16x9 format while keeping the MSRP quite low. They have been leading the way in low cost DVD with 16x9 format transfers or dual format with both 16x9 and 4x3. While I despise P&S, I realize it is going to be a part of life and as long as they keep the 16x9 transfers going I will be happy.
    You must also consider that the task Ron set out to accomplish was not an easy one. It has gotten to the point where most DVDs from Most Studios are really top notch. This leaves him to make his grades on what he thought of each Studios new release movies and what kind of movment they made in the way of their older catalog titles for the year. I don't really think it is fair to let how they treated HTF factor in to their grades but.....as we are often reminded Life ain't fair. [​IMG] So I pretty much agree with Ron's grades.
    Max
     
  6. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

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    MGM surprised me a lot, but not in a bad way. I'm glad they are getting some recognition for turning their company around DVD-wise.
    The reason Paramount is so high (at least for me and I can see Ron agrees with me) is their quality control. Every release they do seems scrutinized for quality. Not to mention their wonderful special edition release of a certain film about the mafia [​IMG] . Paramount set a standard early-on for quality and they continually live up to it.
     
  7. bill lopez

    bill lopez Second Unit

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    BLAME IT ON RIO is a good example of great looking dvd for a very cheap price.[​IMG]
     
  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    For the most part, I've been getting warmer toward MGM. Please remember to go to 6 discs for Stargate Season 2 and up [​IMG]
     
  9. Mick Wright

    Mick Wright Second Unit

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  10. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I agree with every single word Ron said, bar none. I think he DID leave some things out, though.

    As mentioned, MGM deserves a *STRONG* nod for their prices as well as the improved quality. My only criticism to still level at them is that, on the lowest-priced items, they are delivered without Chapter Stop Inserts. Please charge us a dollar more and give us those. I always use these to find my favorite scenes, and go straight to them with the remote. HAVING to use the "chapter selection" is an inconvenience, especially when a cheap Chapter Stop Insert would solve the problem. What does it cost...about a quarter? Getting off of that subject, though, it IS good to know that I no longer have to worry about the quality of the main item I buy the disc for: the feature! It's always a terrific item now, and often you get an awesome Special Edition for what feels like pocket change (Dressed to Kill, anyone?)! Keep it up; I'm ready to nab Buckaroo Banzai tommorrow pretty damn quickly!

    Columbia/TriStar also has a big problem that Ron left out. Trailers. Again, going back to the idea that we want "the studios (to) understand the archival benefits of DVD", it is imperative that, when we buy a title - ANY title, even one like The Great Muppet Caper - it should include the trailer(s) used to promote that film. Moreover, C/TS is using a rather deceptive practice in listing "Theatrical Trailers" among the supplements for a DVD, but the trailers included ARE NOT THE ONES FOR THE FILM ON THE DVD! Rather, they are trailers for OTHER films, and C/TS is using them as "commercials" to get you to buy their other DVD titles. This needs to stop quickly; it is causing bad feeling on the part of the buyers. Many more people are annoyed at this than you see on HTF; several of my friends, neighbors, and coworkers have all expressed displeasure over it. Please spend the time and effort to include at least ONE trailer for the film in question, on ALL releases and not merely on Special Editions.

    Disney: I think they rate a tad higher than Ron said. Their releases weren't QUITE so uneven, in my opinion. Also, Ron mentions Oliver and Company. To my knowledge, this disc was never released, having been delayed (along with So Dear To My Heart), until an unspecified date in 2002. To me, THAT sort of thing is the most troubling...especially since so little in the way of an explanation has been offered. On the other hand, the terrific Walt Disney Treasures items - not just Mickey Mouse, but all 4 of them, more than balance this out. Especially as the start of something new and very cool. More, more!

    I am surprised that Anchor Bay wasn't mentioned by Ron, but Artisan was. I think of these two pretty side-by-side, even though Artisan releases to theaters and Anchor Bay does not. But then, Criterion doesn't, either. I must take a moment to applaud AB's terrific discs this year! Keep us the fantastic work, fellas!!! If you do more of EXACTLY what you did this year, you'll keep taking LOTS of my money.

    2003 will be Universal's year, by the looks of it. I'll table all comments for 365 days. We'll see.

    On the other hand, Warner Brothers better switch gears and come through. I've talked personally to several people there, and suffice it to say that I'm certain that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Or, if they know the WHAT, they sure don't know the WHY. People there who are trying to do their job in the best way possible are getting railroaded by a corporate beauracracy that I feel is heavily bogged down since the merger with AOL. 2003 can also be a big year for WB, with a second chance to deliver OAR releases consistantly on all titles, no matter what the age of the audience, even if MAR fans ALSO get what they want. European Vacation is a big step in the right direction (now re-do the other three and put them in a box set!). Other big titles are coming up for them next year, starting (for me) with Victor/Victoria, one of my all-time favorite films. I'll buy it, as quickly as I bought the Dirty Harry box set. But they have along way to go. They have opportunities to find SOME popular television product SOMEWHERE in their library, and release it as an entire-season-at-a-time box set, and see what the profits look like and how they can get other TV product out the same way (cough - Friends - cough). Also, they have a HUGE hit on their hands to do right: Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. Let's see how they handle all of these challenges. If they can find a leader to come in, take control of ALL of their DVD divisions, and cut through the crap to bring the customers what they want, then the die-hards at HTF and elsewhere will be more than willing to write off 2001 as a "bad year" and go back to WB product full-force. As it stands, I'm very, VERY tentative on their items right now. Former "sure-buy" items, like the three Rat Pack titles next week, are now relegated to the "let's see" part of the ol' wishlist.

    One last thing: Fox and Paramount. GREAT job, guys. Fox, for the consistantly great job all over the place. Paramount, because my biggest complaints are slowly being listened to and acted on: more SPECIAL special editions, and finally prices seem to be coming in-line with my expectations (especially with next week's price drop on many titles, like An Officer and a Gentlemen, which I've waited for but will wait for no longer!). THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Ron picked right when he picked you two among the top three. Dreamworks is a great choice, too...but I think these two studios worked HARDER than DW did. And my purchases are showing it for Fox, and starting to show it for Paramount. Keep going!

    Edit: One last thought is that perhaps we should have a similar list of retailers and e-tailers. I think that the people who sell them to us are quite important, in that we don't get any of this stuff without them! If the Blockbusters and Wal-Marts and Circuit City stores of the world are doing it wrong, then who is doing it right? And how can it be better? Let's talk about it!

    Really, in the end, it's the synergy between the studios, the sellers, and the buyers that determine the state of the DVD market!
     
  11. Roger Mathus

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    The ratings seem to be very well thought out and pretty much mirror my thoughts. I also wondered why Criterion was mentioned and not Anchor Bay. AB had some really fine releases in 2001. They deserve a place in the list.

    MGM has been a real surprise lately. Early in the year many releases were as bare as it gets and many were not anamorphic. At that time, MGM was the only label that I feared to pre-order. They certainly have changed.

    Regarding Warner, it seems clear that they don't listen to their customer. This extends to audio specs and to packaging. It is the movie that is important, but to collectors the package is also important. Numerous polls indicate the customer preference for the keepcase. Warner even offers the keepcase in some other markets. It seems that everyone has abandoned the snapper except for Warner.

    Yes, 2001 was a big year for DVD and I hope that we can winn the fight to keep DVD presentations in the widescreen OAR.
     
  12. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

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    I agree with the rating system. Universal should be docked (as it was) for having not released Back to the Future by now. Also it's a shame that they refuse to get involved with the consumers on this very board.

    Jon
     
  13. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  15. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Personally, I think Ron was perhaps a bit too forgiving of Universal and a bit too hard on Disney. I still don't get why people think of the Dumbo DVD as lackluster. Compared to Snow White Platinum, maybe, but what classic film release is not lackluster compared to that. Here's my impressions of some of the studios:
    Dreamworks: A consistently reliable brand name. Rarely a disappointment.
    New Line: See Dreamworks comment.
    Criterion: See Dreamworks comment. A few late dalliances with non-anamorphic transfers, but otherwise very reliable if expensive.
    Fox: Very reliable. Let's have more catalog product!
    Disney/Buena Vista: Very consistent of late. They seem to have their price and content levels reeled back in from "wackyland" where they resided 2-3 years ago. [​IMG]
    Paramount: Consistently great film-like transfers. Rarely any extras. Some interesting catalog releases, but that price point is limiting my purchases. I keep an eye out at the used disc places, though. [​IMG]
    Anchor Bay: I love these guys. If they get their QA act together, they will be tough to beat. They have an affection for their titles that is rivaled only by Criterion. It is hard to believe this is the same company that released that awful first wave of Anchor Bay titles that were like "VHS in convenient disc form".
    Sony/Columbia: They were on a hot streak, but their recent catalog releases have not been as revelatory as previous. Funny Girl is an exception, but On the Waterfront and From Here to Eternity were disappointing.
    Universal: Thanks for all of the great Hitchcock releases, and keep up the good work licensing to Criterion! The unavailability of many titles in widescreen at my B&M rental outlets is getting very annoying, though. Enough with the separate pan & scan releases already...
    Warners: ...and that goes for you, too, WB! The highest highs and the lowest lows. Hopefully, they will use some of their newfound Harry Potter cash to get cracking on their enormous catalog of unreleased gems. When they set their mind to something (Superman, Citizen Kane), they really do it well. Please reconsider anamorphic enhancement for 1.66:1 films...
    MGM: ...and that goes for you too, MGM. Improving, but still a long way to go. Their best UA catalog releases are about as good as the bad to middling Warner releases, but at least they are releasing them! Please reconsider anamorphic enhancement for 1.66:1 films!
    Winstar: Let us not speak of the atrocities.
     
  16. Scott Shanks

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    The biggest problem I had with his lists was that Citizen Kane was omitted from the top 10 list of discs for 2001.
     
  17. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    I would definitely put Anchor Bay in the top 5 of Ron's list. I'm glad Paramount was scored high - they're consistently excellent with regards to picture quality (they just need to turn off the edge enhancement on certain titles, e.g. Forrest Gump).
    New Line - Infinifilm is nice, but I prefer your 2-disc SEs (where the video/audio quality doesn't suffer), so let's have a few more of them in 2k2, please *cough*longkissgoodnight*cough*
    Columbia - what David said re:trailers. Sort out your misleading packaging. [​IMG]
    Fox - what can I say? Flawless Victory. Thanks so much for Moulin Rouge! [​IMG]
    Warner - thanks for the V and B5 test discs. Now let's have the rest. [​IMG]
    Anchor Bay - again, well done. Now please reissue your initial batch of Hammers in anamorphic widescreen.
     
  18. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I too agree with Ron's assessment of MGM.
    I like Special Editions.
    But really all I ask is that my favorite movie be OAR, enhanced for 16x9, and mastered from a good print. And MGM has, for the most part, done that. I mean, I was given The Handmaid's Tale, China Moon, and other lesser known MGM gems for $14 each! And the transfers were all 16x9 OAR, with more than passable sound. That's absolutely fine by me. Better that than the fact that the Infinifilm feature glitches my RP91 from time to time and renders me unable to scan or pause the movie. [​IMG]
     

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