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WHV and Soviet revisionism


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#1 of 5 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted October 16 2001 - 11:28 PM

Quote:
[Warner] We will evaluate the first release's reception and hope it's great. Because if the DVD performance does not improve upon the VHS performance from a few years back, it will not continue. So please support Release #1.

[NigelMcN] ...I would just like Warner to note that many of us believe (rightly or wrongly) the Babyon 5 VHS sold badly due to an early announcement of it on DVD. done

[Warner] We didn't announce it on DVD. Someone else must have. DONE

Well, I'm outraged and now doubly mad that I missed the chat. I would have called them on this outrageous bit of Soviet Revisionism.

First of all, the logic is flawed. It doesn't matter whether Warner Home Video or someone else announced that B5 was coming to DVD. If there was a widespread perception that a DVD release was coming soon, even based on nothing more than rumor, this would have an affect on VHS sales, and marketing professionals should understand this. (Product sales are hurt all the time by the most outrageous rumors, like the "Snapple is owned by the KKK" and "Proctor and Gamble is run by Satanist" stories.) As it happens, though, WHV is wrong that "someone else must have".

While it is true that the studio didn't officially announce the release of B5 on DVD (in the form of pre-order information made available to dealers) until a couple of months ago, WHV employees and spokesman have been hinting at a DVD release since 1998.

In their very first live chat with the HTF, in February or March of 1998 IIRC (the chat is no longer in the archives) WHV said that B5 was "being considered" for DVD release. That statement alone was enough to make many fans stop buying the VHS tapes, because buying the whole set in that format was going to be expensive, and they didn't want to spend the money if there was a good chance that the show would be out on DVD in the near future.

A couple of months later Mike Finnegan, who participated in last night's chat, sat down for an interview with The Big Picture website. When asked if B5 was coming to DVD, Finnegan said, "Yes". Widescreen? "To be determined".

Whether or not WHV considers that an "official announcement" it was certainly taken as such by the fans. A WHV executive had said, "Yes" to a direct question in an on-the-record interview with a popular HT news site. The exchange was widely quoted on B5 fan sites and people again stopped buying the tapes.

By 1999, when they next chatted with the HTF, WHV was back to "being considered" when asked about a DVD release. But that fall series creator J. Michael Straczynski told fans that the first DVDs would arrive either late in 1999 or early in 2000, based on information given him by Warner Home Video. The Digital Bits reported similar information, although they later reported that plans for this release were scrapped.

In April 2000, WHV had this to say on the subject:

Quote:
[Warner_Bros] BABYLON 5 is being discussed and planned. Remasterings are necessary.

[hakan_powers] widescreen remasters?

[Warner_Bros] What are the most desired B5 seasons/episodes/telefilms to start

[hakan_powers] I and most would like season box sets. But "in the beginning" is probably a good title to start with along with the pilot.

[Warner_Bros] Understood. DONE

Now, call me foolish, but when someone describes something as being "discussed and planned", I assume that they're actually working on it. Especially when they talk about "remasterings" and solicit specific information about what fans are looking for. (Notice also how they evaded Hakan's question about widescreen by asking him a question. This is vintage WHV "weaselspeak")

Finally, last November, long after the VHS release was cancelled, WHV reps at Studio Day told us that B5 was "on the schedule" for 2001, but could offer no further information.

Before the VHS release even came out I wrote to Warner Home Video warning them that many fans would pass up the VHS tapes and LDs in hope of a DVD release down the road. After the Finnegan interview I wrote him, Mike Saksa and Paul Hemstreet among others to warn them that Finnegan's statement was going to hurt VHS sales. I know that at least some of these letters were read, because Finnegan had an assistant reply to two of them. So Warner Bros. cannot now pretend that are unaware of what they said, or of the predicted affect their own comments would have on VHS sales. I don't know if they are fools, or if they just think we are. But I can't let their attempt to rewrite history stand, and I intend to send a letter to every single participant in the chat a letter asking them to explain their statement.

Regards,

Joe

#2 of 5 alan halvorson

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Posted October 17 2001 - 01:13 AM

Well said - and buy the dvd!

------------------
They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!
They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa To the funny farm. Where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!!!!
- Napoleon XIV

They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!
They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa To the funny farm. Where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!!!!
- Napoleon XIV

#3 of 5 Charles Bober

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Posted October 17 2001 - 02:35 AM

Way to go Joseph!!!! There's nothing wrong with calling anybody on their bullshit. With all of your evidence above, I suggest you contact Mike Finnegan and give him the low down.

BTW, I was very disappointed with the chat. WHV bobbed and weaved more than Marvin Hagler against Sugar Ray Leonard. Their non-commital on OAR is extremely disturbing and will not be tolerated.

Good luck.

------------------
DTS Laser Disc. Size Does Matter


#4 of 5 Mark_TS

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Posted October 17 2001 - 09:32 AM

...what a great Header... Posted Image

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The Official HTF 'elitist' lol....
"War is God's way of teaching Americans Geography"-Ambrose Bierce

#5 of 5 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted October 17 2001 - 11:15 AM

Well, my memory was a bit off. The Big Picture interview actually took place in March of 1999, not 1998. And Paul Hemstreet was involved, along with Mike Finnegan. So they have even less excuse to be so "surprised" that fans believed that Warner Home Video had a B5 DVD release planned.

Here's the relevant exchange from The Big Picture (many thanks to Jeff McNeal for providing the link when I couldn't find it):

quote:
TBP: Any plans to release BABYLON 5 on DVD?

Mike Finnegan: Yes!

TBP: Widescreen?

Mike Finnegan: To be decided.[/quote]

Remember, this interview took place in March 1999, when Warner Home Video was still continuing the B5 VHS release it had started in the late summer or early fall of 1998. Presumably they were still selling, or WHV wouldn't still be producing them. Yet by the summer of 1999 the release was cut-off with only about half the series released. Did VHS sales suddenly drop off between March and June? If so, why? I think we all know the answer. Why doesn't Warner Bros.?

Regards,

Joe

P.S.

Here's the roll-call of WHV chat participants from Tuesday, and the mailing address. I strongly recommend that anyone who is seriously interested in this issue take time to write a polite, but firm, letter to any or all of the folks on this list expressing his or her feelings about the chat, and the company's handling of the B5 series.

Mike Finnegan
Vice President
Editorial and Programming Services

Paul Hemstreet
Vice-President
Special Features/DVD

Michael Radiloff
Vice-President
DVD Marketing

Kristin Grosshandler
Manager
DVD Special Features

Warner Home Video
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522



[Edited last by Joseph DeMartino on October 17, 2001 at 06:18 PM]





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