Why do studios release pan and scan DVDs in 2007?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PaulKTF, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. moviefan

    moviefan Agent

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    I know someone close to me who hates widescreen and feels cheated when a movie is shown in widescreen. I tried explaining to her what widescreen is and aspect ratios are in the simplest of terms, but doesn't want to hear it. She wants the whole screen filled no matter what.
     
  2. Sean A

    Sean A Stunt Coordinator

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    This is the type of person who needs to get educated on the subject. And wait a couple years until all sets are widescreen, and she'll be STILL moaning about the black bars on sides of her screen now
     
  3. Steven Good

    Steven Good Second Unit

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    I doubt she'll put up with watching pan-n-scan discs & the side bars on her widescreen TV. She'll just push the format / aspect button on her remote repeatedly until the bars are gone. She'll never notice or care that everyone is shorter and fatter, much less that up to 43% of the image shown theatrically is missing.

    I also love seeing the "short/fat people" look displayed on HD sets in retail showrooms. I suppose it is too much to expect electronic dept. employees to have an interest in properly displaying their expensive HDTV products at their best...
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    When I used to work in a video store, I would try to explain the difference to people who were complaining about the bars but I'm sure most people didn't care at all. Although some times a visual aid would help- I'd hold a pamphlet on its side (since it's a rectangle) and say "This is what you'd see in a movie theater but since your TV is shaped differently, you only see this much" and I'd cover the sides of the pamphlet with my hands. Like I said, I doubt I changed too many minds but at least I tried. [​IMG]
     
  5. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Yeah, as people have been saying it's probably not likely that this ignorance will ever go away even when 16:9 sets are the norm. I was staying at the home of some family over the weekend. They have a 16:9 and I see on the coffee table a P&S version of Casino Royale. I ask why they got this version seeing as how they have a 16:9 set and the answer was that they don't care at all (they probably just grab the first copy they see off the shelf). They pretty much watch everything stretched. In fact, I was pretty much treated like an idiot for caring about such a thing.

    These 16:9 manufacturers should just get rid of that stretch function and whatever the native AR is, that is how it is shown. Then you might see J6P with a 16:9 start to adopt WS
     
  6. Brian D H

    Brian D H Second Unit

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    While I agree with you 100%, you know why this trick won't work? Because, if you tear off both ends of a dollar bill (leaving at least 51% intact) it will still buy a dollar's worth of stuff. To them, that's what matters.
    (And it's not the same as getting 57 cents back. 57% of a paper dollar is still worth a dollar.)
     
  7. bradleybruns

    bradleybruns Auditioning

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    A picture is worth a thousand words.

    Long ago, I had seen the pan-and-scan VHS version of Star Wars (A New Hope) countless times. Since I was too young (5) to remember seeing it in the theater, pan-and-scan was my only reference for Star Wars.

    One day I happened upon a wide-screen VHS. From start to finish, it was a revelation. Nobody had to explain OAR or 2.35:1 to me. I will never forget the scene where Luke looks through his binoculars at the Banthas. "There's sandpeople alright...I can see one of them now." Finally, I saw what he was talking about. Needless to say, I choose widescreen (or OAR) from then on.

    To answer the original poster's question: as long as PoS [​IMG] I mean P&S DVDs sell, they will be released. Of course this applies to a million dubious products available in the free market.

    To quickest way to OAR "awareness" (in my opinion) would be a short, simple "commercial", using examples from well-known movies. This would be included on DVDs and even shown in theaters. If people simply learned that widescreen = more picture, it would be a victory.

    As stated before, clearer names for "widescreen" and "full-screen" are needed. Example: My father-in-law is quite savvy regarding Audio-Video, HD, etc. He prefers OAR, but rarely buys movies (or visits sites like this one). He saw the "full-screen" label and thought "Good, this will give me the FULL picture, and fill the width of my 16 x 9 TV."

    I love this statement: "This movie is formatted to fit your screen". [​IMG]
     
  8. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    "What's worse is when studios (like Sony) DROP a widescreen transfer in favor of the full screen."

    Like The Bear. I dont know what the hell would possess soeone to release a film with such beautiful photography in P&S when a WS version was released earlier.


    "From start to finish, it was a revelation. Nobody had to explain OAR or 2.35:1 to me."

    Last Action Hero was mentioned earlier and its really what started my Laser Disc collecting. There was a mom & pop near me that rented them. One saturday night I rented LAH and popped it a LD player my mother had in a closet for years and loved what I saw. Havent looked back since.
     
  9. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    The problem with having both Widescreen and P&S releases comes in a situation like the one I run into at the library at which I work. If there are separate releases, they only purchase the MAR one. Even though we are supposed to be improving the intelligence of our patrons, we cater to the lowest common denominator. Luckily, I only occasionally run into a situation where a film I want to see is fullscreen. Then again, most of the films I like to watch aren't mainstream enough to warrant separate releases.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Combine Brian's situation with the one I related above regarding mainstream retailers and there's a couple of really good reasons not to be seduced by the "MAR is okay as long as there is a separate OAR release of the same title" argument.

    I'm sure there are more.

    Brian: your use of the phrase "lowest common demonimator" is troublesome to me because I am not so sure who really wants MAR'd releases anymore.

    I asked a rather open-ended question in a recent Weekly RoundUp about why so many of the titles that end up in CC $3.99 or $4.99 sales or Wal-Mart dump bins are the MAR versions only (in those cases where there were separate MAR & OAR releases). The best answer seems to be that either the retailers are over-ordering MAR versions and want to get rid of them OR the MAR versions aren't selling as well as the OAR versions. Or, maybe some combination of those two scenarios.

    Fewer and fewer new releases are getting the "two AR" treatment...so I think there is a light at the tunnel. I'm sure the emergence of 16:9 monitors has also had a hand in this.

    I'd like to think, though, that the studios are realizing that titles will sell just as well in their OAR rather than an MAR. [Note I did NOT say that I think people are realizing that OAR is better...I just don't think most people WON'T buy a title if it doesn't "fill the screen of their 4:3 TV.]

    Only someone with sales figures can know for sure, I guess. But I often see the OAR titles of dual-releases far out-distancing their MAR counterparts in sales and rental figures.

    ==========================

    So, for me the best answer to the OPs original question of "Why do studios release pan & scan DVDs in 2007?" is: THEY SHOULDN'T!
     
  11. Nick Zbu

    Nick Zbu Stunt Coordinator

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    I had this argument with my family for a few years now until I sat with them on a P&S movie and pointed out exactly what the difference was through example. Though they don't care, it does bug them, and that's a good point to show exactly the difference between widescreen and P&S.

    My opinion? If you're stupid enough to buy a disc that has a third of the movie on it, then you're probably too stupid to realize you're being taken for a ride. And since there's no real cure for being stubborn and stupid, prepare for the rest of your life to be full of incidents like that.
     
  12. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Except that you CAN'T get everything you (or we) "need" in WS. Let's see... JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN, WHITE FANG, SON OF FLUBBER, THE GNOME MOBILE, GREYFRIAR'S BOBBY and more from Disney (some of which are available in widescreen in other regions); COLOSSUS THE FORBIN PROJECT, ICEMAN, CHARLIE VERRICK and others from Universal; ANNIE SPECIAL EDITION, MATILDA and all Sony/Columbia titles from which the widescreen "sides" have been dropped from the re-issues; a number of Steve Martin & Burt Reynolds titles from Warner Bros (although they seem determined to correct this); this list goes on a while. Life may, as you say, be too short to worry about this stuff, but for those of us who are devoted to the proper preservation of movies on DVD, such oversights are unforgivable.
     
  13. Mathew B

    Mathew B Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, in Europe, as many of you already know, it's widescreen only for nearly everything. Like it or lump it. Occasionally one will slip through the net (Matinee, for instance - and to rub salt in the wound, the trailer was widescreen), but the majority are far and wide widescreen. And I've very rarely heard a complaint about it - the only time is when a title is non-anamorphic (such as Star Wars last year, which many people thought were faulty). As long as it's anamorphic, it's fine. It's even got to the point where there's widescreen versions that aren't in America in some cases (The Man with Two Brains - it may have taken years to get here, but it was worth it!)

    I say ditch the 'fullscreen' and the audience will accept.
     
  14. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    [​IMG] Just another reason to put aside past differences resulting from the American Revolution and learn some valuable lessons from our European brethren! [​IMG]
     
  15. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Yeah, agree, some manufacturers twist the words, I have to assume to purposely confuse. Others have been quite good since the beginning. Remember one manufacturer used to put that little diagram on the back showing the diff between "full" and widescreen? P&S is a whole nother thing, can't use a diagram to show that so easily, it would require READING something, but just that the format is not widescreen should be enough info.

    For instance, Sony calls my TV's widescreen mode FULL, and the 4:3 mode NORMAL. We are all abnormal I guess.
     
  16. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    The straightest answer to this question is: Because Wal*Mart tells them to, or else they won't stock their product.
     
  17. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Why all this condescension and the ridiculous assumption that everyone who buys pan-and-scan discs are stupid or ignorant?

    My parents fully understand the difference. On their 32" 4:3 TV they'd rather see more picture -- they find 2.35:1 movies far too small to watch when presented widescreen. If they can understand the story, they don't care that part of the image is missing.

    Hell, a lot of people (including many from HTF) complained about the contrast and black levels of The Godfather on DVD -- it's presented how it's supposed to look, the way it was intended, but they'd be much happier if the black was a nice, rich black and the film was presented "normally", with standard contrast and more vivid colours.

    How is that any different? It's asking for a fundamental change to the look of the film to suit your personal tastes.

    How is it any different from those who insist on 5.1 remixes so that all of their speakers are filled? I'm always disappointed when a 5.1 remix is the only option on a film that was not originally presented in a multichannel sound format, but when I complain about that I'm a kook or a luddite.

    Anyone who picks the 5.1 remix over the original mono mix when both are available is every bit as "ignorant" or "uninformed" as those who prefer 4:3 presentations. There is no difference -- "it's only the sound" is as weak as "it's only the picture -- the story and acting are still intact".

    You either want the original or you want what you prefer -- and there is nothing wrong with wanting what you prefer, and there's nothing wrong with preferring the original aspect ratio but also preferring remixed multichannel audio. Not everyone is a purist!

    Some people will have different preferences from you. Some people think movies are just entertainment and not art. And so what? They are entitled to their preferences, as are you, and clearly the studios want to cater to different preferences a lot of the time, in order to make money.

    People who think that their preference is the be-all and end-all of preferences and that everyone else should just live with having things the way they don't like them need to get over themselves a bit.

    I personally prefer the original aspect ratio and the original sound. When presented with a choice of one or the other, usually I'll pick the original sound over the original aspect ratio. But I don't think that anyone is stupid if they'd rather have a nice 5.1 widescreen DVD instead of a pan-and-scan or open matte LaserDisc with the original mono in uncompressed PCM.
     
  18. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Aaron: Please don't count me among those who might use words like "stupid" to describe people who might prefer an MAR release over an OAR.

    I did not start my thread...but I have been intrigued by the OP's original question. I guess when I joined the HTF back in 2001 (as did you) I would have figured MAR'd releases would have become a thing of the past by 2007. Since they are not, I wonder why.


    ..so noone should be too surprised by the responses we've seen in this thread. I, personally, would have preferred that we didn't fall back (in this thread) into the same old arguments of several years ago about how OAR=Good and MAR=Evil.

    As one early poster noted, this seems like a topic appropriate for 1998. But, I am really intrigued by putting the debate into the context of 2007.

    I totally agree with your points about MAR visuals being the same as faux 5.1 soundtracks or colorized movies or exaggerated blacks/colors.

    But the question is: why do studios release P&S DVDs in 2007? The obvious answer in they must make $$$. But why? I'd be surprised (or maybe just naive) to think enough people still preferred (actively seek out) P&S versions of films that the studios still release them for that reason.

    While I fully understand your example of your parents who want to fill their 32" 4:3 TV, I guess I would be surprised if that is the reason for the continued release of P&S DVDs. I would suspect (again, maybe I'm being supremely naive) that most people pick up MAR'd DVDs only because they are ignorant there's a choice and it's what they see on an endcap which prompts their impulse buy. I sincerely doubt people would NOT buy a title if it is ONLY released in its OAR.

    I really wish some industry insider could clue us in on what is the financial reasoning that continues the production of P&S DVDs.

    But, consider this: we have seen the end (I think) of MAR-only new releases. At least I don't recall having seen one in a very long time. AND, the number of dual-format new releases has dropped considerably. Whereas I used to have 3-5 new releases in each Weekly RoundUp to warn people about...I have now dropped to just one or none.

    So, it seems to me (in my rather narrowly focused--perhaps "skewed" perspective) that the tide is changing...just not yet completely. And I am intrigued by reports that retailers stock P&S-only titles...or that studios re-issue certain titles in P&S-only versions (when both had been offered perviously) because those actions seem to go against the grain.
     
  19. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    But Mike -- no one thinks to ask "why do studios still release 5.1 remixes in 2007". Most here, despite the mission statement of HTF, see nothing wrong with them, and prefer them.

    And the outcry over the up-and-down pan-and-scan version of Super Speedway was limited to me and me, if I recall correctly -- that's a 4:3 title that was remastered and presented 16:9. Nasty can o' worms to open up, if you ask me.

    Honestly, whatever Home Theater Forum's mandate may be, the majority here prefer widescreen presentations for their widescreen TVs and 5.1 presentations for their 5.1 sound systems, regardless of the original source. It's a perfectly valid preference, and it's as valid as someone else's preference for 4:3 presentations for their 4:3 TV.

    If the "tide is changing", it's because more people own widescreen TVs.

    So ultimately, the answer to the thread question is "because people buy them, because those people prefer them".

    So why are studios still releasing 5.1 remixes when they are so clearly against HTF's mandate? [​IMG]
     
  20. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I (and I would think most of the HTF membership) am SOOO okay with you questioning 5.1 mixes that are not true to the original presentation. In fact, maybe you should start your own thread re-opening the debate on that issue in a current day context.

    These are questions that are never going to go away. We are enthusiasts and will always be questioning/debating these things. Kubrick-approved ARs, Harryhausen-approved colorization, etc.

    Your Super Speedway example sounds similar to the abomination that was Kung Fu: Season 1. There is concern being expressed in the thread about the upcoming release of A Christmas Carol (1951) that includes an appropriate 4:3 B&W restoration, a 4:3 colorized version, and a 16;( B&W version! I think the HTF clearly opposes that kind of butchering. I do NOT think you are alone in your disapproval.

    But I disagree with your premise that most people here want WS films for their WS displays. I think most HTF membership understands that the proper way to view any academy ratio film is in 4:3 mode and wouldn't stretch or zoom their screen to "fill" it up.

    And I'm not sold on the premise that P&S DVDs are being released in 2007 because "people buy them because they prefer them." It's not just because of my own preferences, I'm just having trouble with the logic of it. That's why I wish an industry insider could shed some light.

    And, if you want to keep the torch lit about improper 5.1 soundtracks, I'm all for it! [​IMG] If people here at the HTF aren't seeing the error of their ways (preferring 5.1 soundtracks where they don't belong), maybe we just need some more education.
     

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