The Warner Problem: Not So Surprising

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jack Briggs, Aug 17, 2001.

  1. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Now, while the entire Forum is still reeling and reverberating from the Warner announcements, is the time to reflect on something that, in my view, has been inevitable:
    We constantly read how DVD is the fastest-rising consumer home-entertainment format in history. With each day and week, it increasingly becomes the "people's format." DVD is very much a mass medium.
    Home theater, however, is not yet a hobby/advocation of the masses. As hard a notion as it is for us to swallow, most persons do not know what is meant by the term "original aspect ratio." But we know all too well that most persons hate the concept of letterboxing with a near-passion.
    Small wonder, then, that one of the first studios to embrace DVD is also among the first to announce two major releases that will be available in pan-and-scan only. The studio we all love to hate is reacting and responding to its own market research. Warner has little incentive to cater any longer to what it views as a niche market. And that's what we are, folks: a niche market, a fraction, a drop in the bucket.
    Expect more pan-and-scan-only announcements from Warner, and soon after, others.
    With sadness, I predict the following: Widescreen/OAR presentations eventually will only be available in special-edition releases, and probably at much greater cost. The studios want to make money, not curry favor with a more-educated elite.
    I don't like what I've said here, but I fear it's the truth. For once, I hope I'm wrong.
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    [​IMG]
     
  2. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Jack, you're right I'm afraid. But it is too upsetting.
    Go to your room! [​IMG]
    Peter
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  3. Antonio_M

    Antonio_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Pan and Scam and widescreen can fit on the same disc.
    Also, forgetting about widescreen is really ignorant, considering that is the way movies from many directors are made.
    Second, I have no problem if studios will embrace strongly pan and scan, because all I have to do is stop buying.
    You also might say that what Martin Scorsece has done is a waste of his preeching time.
    You can also say that Americans are so behind stuff. We don't appreciate or embrace the finer things in life.
    Third, pan and scam costs more money to make than widescreen.
    This is Warner we're talking about, a company in which the great Dreamworks left behind because of garbage. That is what they are, garbage. A freakin cardboard manufacturing company.
     
  4. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Here I go again, but I must respectfully disagree. Warner is being foolish, as other studios would be if they followed suit.
    Yes, there are more Joe Six Packs than us, but they do not buy DVDs like we do. They have maybe 5-10 that they have acquired over the last year or so. I, for example, have about 170 which I have acquired in the last 9 months. Even if Joe Six Pack outnumbers us 50-1, long terms sales will still decrease if they veer away from OAR.
    These decisions are short sighted. They are listening to the masses, not the DVD buyers. There is a huge difference.
    Another thing to remember is that, while it is unlikely J6P will refuse to buy a title because it's widescreen (especially if it's only 1.85:1), we will refuse to buy non-OAR discs.
    Then there is the point of titles. Why would anyone want to release, for example, The Lion in Winter in P&S for J6P. J6P doesn't know that movie from a hole in the ground and won't buy it anyway. We will, but not if it's P&S.
    I'm confident that Warner will see their sales drop with these decisions.
    Just wait a few more days and watch how MGM's The Silence of the Lambs widescreen DVD outsells the formatted version. Trust me, it'll happen. It was pretty obvious to me from the time that release was announced that MGM was using it to test the waters. Good choice of title, I must say, as it appeals equally to buffs and J6P. However, MGM will be very surprised I think by the result. [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
    "People always clap for the wrong things." - J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
    Anyone in the Vancouver, BC area interested in meeting up? If so, click here .
    Please sign the online petition against Warner Brothers' recent non-OAR releases. Click here .
    [Edited last by Rain on August 17, 2001 at 04:51 PM]
     
  5. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Jack you make some good points here, that I have thought would be coming all along myself. We truly are the niche market now for DVD, and it will only get worse for us as time goes on. I see people getting excited that they have 600 or even 10,000 signatures on a petition to Warner Brothers, but when you think of big releases that sell several hundred thousand copies or even close to a million or more, it makes you realize we are fighting a battle we cannot win.
    The only thing we can hope for is that Studios such as Fox and Paramount stay true to their policies in place for the time being. The biggest enemy could ultimately end up being rental pricing though. If it comes to be, we are going to see more and more P&S titles prepared for the rental market, and if the title is not big, when it becomes available for general sale we could very well see studios get lazy and decide to just put back out the same P&S version for rental.
    It seems like the hayday for OAR DVD lovers is slowly coming to an end. Could our only hope ultimately be that HD-DVD comes our way sooner than later so we will once again have a format that caters to us?
    J
     
  6. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  7. HalS

    HalS Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Folks, check out Ron's thread on the situation--he spoke with a source at Warner who wished to remain anonymous. This, from Mr. Epstein's post:
     
  9. HalS

    HalS Stunt Coordinator

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  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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  11. Rain

    Rain Producer

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  12. HalS

    HalS Stunt Coordinator

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  13. Jeff

    Jeff Supporting Actor

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    Now that DVD is becoming more mainstream, the studios don't have to pander to us early adopter/HT enthusiasts.
    It wouldn't surprise me, when rental pricing comes to affect, that SOME DVD's are released in P&S only. Then later on, as Jack says, a Special Edition WS version will come out. This has been the VHS model for years and it has worked for the studios.
    Jeff
     
  14. HalS

    HalS Stunt Coordinator

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    quote: It wouldn't surprise me, when rental pricing comes to affect, that SOME DVD's are released in P&S only. Then later on, as Jack says, a Special Edition WS version will come out. This has been the VHS model for years and it has worked for the studios.[/quote]
    I should have clarified my remarks better, I was speaking solely to the sell through market since we are talking about the purchase of DVDs here. If the studios do go the route of rental pricing, then I agree with what you say. But again, that wouldn't affect us much anyway because we wouldn't be buying the titles at that point (though of course rental pricing would affect us in other ways, which is another discussion). The key is that when titles are released for purchase, I believe it will continue to be with the overwhelming percentage offering OAR.
    PS. While I believe the studios will do what's best for them in terms of the bottom line (as they should), I think it's very much an open question as to whether rental pricing will be the best way to go.
    [Edited last by HalS on August 17, 2001 at 07:00 PM]
     
  15. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I have to agree with Rain here. I think it'll be a long time until the actual number of purchases made by pro pan&scanners is higher than the total number of purchases made by pro-OAR people.
    Let's see if Willy Wonka SE (stupid edition) sells more than Toy Story did.
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    13-time NBA world champion Lakers: 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001
     
  16. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Ok, but where are we going to be in 5 years? Really?
    This is for the U.S. - of course.
    1. Hopefully, small widescreen TV's will be out, and even more hopefully, 4:3 will hit the junk heap.
    2. This goes along with the conversion to HDTV. (Which is really going to be a mess, I'm sure.) But, the stations are slowly turning over to their new channels, and I think in about 5 years all of them will be converted.
    3. More and more shows are being broadcast in widescreen. Ome soap opera has started doing it too. I am sure that this fall season will have more than ever before.
    4. J6P - Ok, he's a jerk, and ruining everything for us. In 5 years, most of them will have DVD players. They will gradually replace all of those stupid VHS machines. True, they don't buy them, but they rent in huge masses. There is no argument there, but one by one, they will discover the advantages of having a widescreen set, and then everything will fall into place.
    That's the way I feel.
    Glenn
     
  17. Chris Biggs

    Chris Biggs Agent

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    I hope it doesn't come to requiring this, but we all may have to work harder than ever to educate J6P on the advantages of widescreen. There are still millions of dummies out there that think studios are covering up the tops and bottoms. Education is going to make problems like this go away. I just hope other studios don't pick up on this trend from Warner.
     
  18. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Jeez, I am exhausted! These last two weeks have been murder!
    Just yesterday I posted somewhere that were all doomed, the sky is falling etc... But the more I think about it, and I could think of nothing else for two weeks, the more i'm beginning to see that Warner's action are an aberation, a freak thing that this ONE studio is doing. As said above, it is ridiculous to think that widescreen will go away, it won't, it will be their. It would be INCREDIBLY foolish, not to mention stupid for the studios to just dump something that is just catching on, well for the mainstream anyway, we've had the pleasure of it for years on LD.
    So, just take a nice deep breath, let it out, go to bed, and sleep soundly, NOW GET UP QUICK CAUSE WERE ALL FUCKED!! Just kidding! [​IMG]
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    Warner Bros. is officially dead to me.
     
  19. Erwin

    Erwin Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, here are some things that did not happen which I think eveyone did not think was going to happen anytime soon (But it did), and these are all very good things:
    1.) DIVX (a format with mostly Pan & Scan) crashed.
    2.) DVD (about 95% widescreen only) is actually being a threat to VHS.
    3.) Disney is putting their animated classics on DVD.
    4.) Fox is releasing a Star Wars film on DVD.
    5.) Universal released Jurassic Park.
    6.) Fox and Disney release animorphic DVDs.
    7.) Disney has released probably some of the best Collectors/ Special Editions known to man.
    8.) There are now more DVDs taking up space in Wal-Mart and Target than VHS tapes.
    9.) DVD players can be had for about the same price as a 4head Hi-Fi VHS player.
    10.) All studios release DVDs day and date with VHS.
     
  20. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Am I the only one who notices that WB is only pan & scanning 1.85:1 family films?
    WB has well-founded thoughts (although, half-baked) on different groups.
    They know most people wanting to buy a movie such as Cats & Dogs don't really care about the integrity of the film...they want some kiddie fodder. (This is my opinion, so don't challenge it: Cats & Dogs is indeed a popcorn family movie...)
    They know that most people who will buy Cats & Dogs probably wouldn't buy a movie such as Doctor Zhivago.
    To them, Doctor Zhivago would most likely be purchased by movie buffs, cinema fans, David Lean fans, etc...
    This is why you see a minimal-extras DVD of a movie such as Cats & Dogs. Why else would WB be putting the time into Doctor Zhivago....2 disc SE...commentaries...making-of special...the works.
    So...WB's theory is that the family/children titles are more likely to be purchased by people who don't really care much about stuff like commentaries and letterboxing. Classics are going to be targeted for the film buffs (us).
    The problem they're having is that some family titles are classics and they don't realize it.
    Superman (and its sequels) and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure are certainly family titles, but they're also classics at the same time. They did these titles perfectly.
    By the way....FOX had the gall to release a pan & scanned version of My Fair Lady.....the restored version! Good thing WB took that film back for DVD. (Didn't Columbia P&S Lawrence of Arabia for VHS? Or is this a hopefully false rumor?)
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    P.S.: There's no P.S.
     

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