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Alliance screwing over Canadian Customers (Please Help!)


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#1 of 62 OFFLINE   Doug Kennedy

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Posted September 09 2004 - 05:31 PM

I think that we need to start taking action on this. The removal of extras/audio tracks to fit in French tracks, making bilingual covers when they are double sided anyways, delaying most releases (Clerks X for example) and in some cases going as far as removing the widescreen option from a disc is pure false advertisment.

I'm sure most of you, as well as I, are sick of this and maybe we can use this thread to warn people of new or past releases that have been modified by Alliance.

But warning people isn't enough. We also need to:

1. All send e-mails to Alliance expressing our anger towards this.

EDIT - Here is an email address for someone higher up rather than the standard homevideo one(Thanks ChristianB): The main guy is David Partridge. He is the Vice President, Home Video, Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution

His email is:

David.Partridge@AllianceAtlantis.com


2. Buy imported U.S. versions of discs that Alliance changed either at Amazon.ca (most of the time they stock the import U.S. version for about a week or so after release) or Ebay.

I'm also going to keep an updated list of these modified DVD's so as usual, if anyone knows any discs that have been modified just post them into this thread and I will add them to the main list.


Modified DVD's

Bowling for Columbine - Burnt-in subtitles removed for Canadian release and replaced with player generated ones.

Clerks X - Most likely changed as the release date is
September 21st, 2 weeks later than the U.S. date. Will update this when discs are released. Edit - Now it's delayed until September 5th - Thanks again ChristianB!

The English Patient - DTS track removed to fit French audio track.

Freaky Friday - This one's bad...they actually removed the widescreen version off of the disc (it was dual layer with Full screen on the other layer) to fit a french language track!

The Punisher (2004) - Does not contain the advertised prequel comic book. Instead, it is replaced with a plain chapter insert.

Red Heat: Special Edition - Same as Clerks X. Released September 7th in U.S., delayed until the 21st here. Will update when disc is released.

The Running Man: Ultimate Edition - DTS 6.1 ES Discrete audio track removed to fit French 2.0 audio track.

Stir of Echoes: Special Edition - DTS 6.1 ES Discrete audio track removed to fit French audio track.

New!Blade II - I've found out that there is a single disc release now being sold and the two disc SE has been discontinued....is this the same in the U.S.?

Also we can't forget all the botched bilingual covers but there are too many to list here. Maybe one day when I have a lot of time on my hands!

#2 of 62 OFFLINE   Albert Noel

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Posted September 09 2004 - 06:53 PM

i'm with you on this one.
i cant bel;ieve they removed the dts track on stir of echoes

if i wanted french language track i would have bought the french release.

#3 of 62 OFFLINE   Eric_B_C

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Posted September 09 2004 - 09:06 PM

See the Clerks X MIA thread. Already done my part.

Subtitle issue doesn't concern me. (So long as I can the damn things.) Everything else does.

May I humbly suggest that if you write to them, post their reply here. That way we can cross reference and see if everything is on the level or if we're having a snow job pulled on us.

I am all for this. They've abused the Canadian DVD buying public for too long with this nonsense. As I said in my mail to them (copied and pasted below to keep it all in one thread from now on), we don't get what is advertised.

Anyway, here's what I said today.

Quote:
Good day. I am writing to you with some very big concerns over your recent treatment of certain DVD releases, and am hoping you can give me a satisfactory explanation. I've been horrified by what you've done in the past, notably you're horrendous job with the Canadian release of the extended "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" in comparison to the far superior US packaging. However, recent issues have made me extremely angry with Alliance Atlantis' treatment of Canadian DVD buyers.

The Punisher, Kill Bill:

I would like to know why you feel the need to print French and English on the packaging, when you've made the packaging double-sided anyway? All you've succeeded in doing is making the packaging look horrendous on all three of the disks I've mentioned here. In the case of "Kill Bill" you haven't even lined up the titles correctly with each other on the spines. If you're going to spend so much time on the packaging, why do you not just create better packaging on each side, rather than wasting space on both languages and creating the totally unprofessional looking work that covers these releases?

The Punisher cover is especially awful. I'd rank it as the worst bi-lingual cover I'm unfortunate enough to own.

The Punisher:

I would like an explanation as to why the promised 28 page comic was not permitted in the Canadian release put out by Alliance Atlantis. There seems to be no logical reason for it to have been excluded, and yet all we get is a very poorly made insert. When I get an insert, if it's more than one page, I expect to find something of use inside it. Instead I open it and find yet more French.

Clerks X:

Why, exactly, did you feel the need to withold this disk for a further two weeks? You're version of The Punisher, despite your butchery of the packaging, managed to make it to the stores on the day it was supposed too. Why the delay of Clerks X? A lot of Kevin Smith fans in Canada are extremely angry with Alliance over this, me among them, and some explanation would be nice. Not only are we angry, we're concerned as it's not unusual for Alliance to dump special features to accommodate French language tracks.

In short, Alliance Atlantis are on very thin ice with a sizeable portion of DVD purchasers. Those hardcore DVD fans like me who purchase a lot of DVD's. Unless a decent and convincing explanation is forthcoming from Alliance Atlantis, then I for one will be importing disks from the US in future, since it's the only way to guarantee receiving the disk that has actually been advertised in press releases, and not winding up with some awfully packaged, version which has had lord knows what done to it.


#4 of 62 OFFLINE   Eric_B_C

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Posted September 09 2004 - 09:16 PM

For the record, the DTS issue doesn't effect me at all as my setup can't play it. I still disagree with it vehemently however.

Albert: As you said, if you wanted French, you'd buy that version.

Wonder if it's the CRTC? Or if that's what they'll hide behind at least?

#5 of 62 OFFLINE   Chris Dugger

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Posted September 09 2004 - 11:55 PM

CRIKEY.....

Next thing you guys will be boycotting USA releases because they are different than the Region 2 releases.

If Alliance needs to make changes, it's because they feel the need to do so for their market.

What... you think that the marketing team at Alliance is sitting around a room asking the question... "oh, we don't really want to SELL and dvd's this year, so what features can we remove to piss of the Canadian public?".

Did you think that there may even be rights issues that may prevent them from releasing the same materials? Do you think that they may even have contractual obligations that prevent them from duplicating the USA release?

I may be sticking my foot in my mouth... but get real...

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#6 of 62 OFFLINE   Miles

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Posted September 10 2004 - 12:09 AM

Chris,

You've been around here long enough to know that people in all regions always want the best video/audio/features available for each release. There are many times Canadians have bought Alliance discs based on the specs released for US releases only to find out Alliance doesn't match them... Alliance specs are hard to find, so Canucks will pick up a DVD on release date only to find out that Canadian DVD is inferior to the U.S. release. (i.e. the dropping of DTS tracks or a wide-screen option)

Should we have to pre-order all of our movies from the U.S. to get the same releases?

How are we to know which releases Alliance has control of? (Obviously all the Miramax stuff)

How are we to know which releases Alliance will leave well-enough-alone?

Shouldn't French subtitles be included on all US releases so frech-speaking Canadians don't need silly dub tracks and Alliance doesn't need to spend money on repackaging and dropping features?

You're right, though, in that Alliance is trying to bow to rediculous french-canadian demand for french dubs... it probably helps their sales... to me the dub tracks are akin to Pan&Scan for video...

#7 of 62 OFFLINE   Magnus T

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Posted September 10 2004 - 01:15 AM

Yesterday I sent this mail to AA:

"Hi!

I've been an avid DVD collector for 3 years now with a collection soon reaching 800. I find the format a great option to watch films on and I rarely go to the movies anymore. I purchase most of my DVD's from Canadian stores like DVDSoon and Dv-Depot to cut my costs down. Unfortunately for me and the rest of the Canadian DVD buying public we've been treated like dirt compared to the US, and mainly because of YOU. Since you distribute films for many film companies like Universal, Lion's Gate, Miramax, Dimension, New Line etc. it's pretty hard getting around buying a DVD that isn't released by you in Canada. I'll give you examples of DVD's you've treated VERY poorly.

The Running Man. You dropped the English DTS track in favor of a French stereo soundtrack. Yippee! 10 Canadians are happy, the thousand other of your customers are upset and decides to purchase the DVD from the US. You loose money.

Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and LOTR: EE. All are packaged in shitty cardboard where the DVD holders are loose from the cardboard and ultimately falls off. Not only is the cardboard weak, the Pulp Fiction DVD didn't contain the Jack Rabbit Slims Menu that the US had.

The Punisher. To further piss off your customers you decided to NOT include the limited edition comic book the Americans received with their DVD. Again, you loose money. People purchase the DVD from the US.

Bilingual Cover art. Where to begin? OK, I'll give you credit for having reversible cover art, but when both French and English are on both sides it kinda defeats the purpose. Release two versions, like Warner and Columbia does. Everyone wins. The 10 people who wants a French cover gets it, the rest of us buy the English only one. And, please, get rid of the horrid AA logos on the front. At this point AA is more of a joke than a seal of quality.

When you start making some of these changes you will gain your customers back, including me."

I wonder if I'll get a response though. I see I was a little harsh. But, who cares, it's Alliance Atlantis.
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#8 of 62 OFFLINE   Jeremy Brupaste

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Posted September 10 2004 - 03:24 AM

Chris,

Let me ask you this...how well do you think your fellow Americans would react if:

1) Advertised DVDs sometimes just didn't show up on the release date with no advance warning?

2) Advertised features weren't on the discs?

3) Advertised promotional items (like The Punisher comic) just weren't included with the DVD?

4) The DVD art was cramped, the text barely readable?

5) Audio tracks were dropped?

6) Repeated letters and phone calls inquiring why these things were happening were simply brushed off?

I think it's safe to say the general American DVD buying public simply would not take it. We're trying to take a stand here and IMPROVE a bad situation. Wish us luck or ignore us, but really, you have no idea what it's like!

I understand it's hard to get your head around this problem - you have it good there in Norwalk! What I wouldn't give to just go into a store on release day and simply grab the latest releases without having to scour them to see what's been changed or dropped. It's an exercise, I tell ya!

At the end of the day, Alliance Atlantis IS A BUSINESS. I understand that. But part of business should be listening to your customers. There's a sizable number of us who simply don't buy their products because of the above abuses. It boggles my mind that they don't want our money. They also don't seem to care, which is probably the most infuriating part.

Anyway, that's all I have to say. Everybody else, keep up the fight! I can't tell you how happy I am to discover I'm not alone in this!

#9 of 62 OFFLINE   Joshua Lane

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Posted September 10 2004 - 04:45 AM

I have a few quick questions based on this situation...

1) Isn't there some sort of law in Canada that requires product packaging to contain both English & French titles/descriptions?

2) When you are saying that features/items are being dropped from the discs, is that based on what the US got, or what Alliance announced would be on the DVD's?

3) Do all DVD releases in Canada get separate French version releases as well?

#10 of 62 OFFLINE   Albert Noel

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Posted September 10 2004 - 04:57 AM

joshua,

1) there is a law in ontario, however, the dvds in question have the french printed on the flip side of the english. so the english side has both english and french and the french has just french.

2) it's based on both the US disc and what is announced

3) yes, for the most part. for example, when i originally purchased my copy of Resident Evil i mistakenly bought the french release. many other discs are the same. the artwork is identical except the rest is in french

#11 of 62 OFFLINE   Ian Garton

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Posted September 10 2004 - 04:59 AM

Alliance Atlantis doesn't care because DVD sales have been increasing enormously and the average DVD buyer does not compare versions on the Internet.

I haven't bought an Alliance Atlantis DVD for over 2 years and won't ever again unless by some miracle they ever produce a DVD that's better than the US version.

#12 of 62 OFFLINE   Jeremy Brupaste

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Posted September 10 2004 - 07:54 AM

Hey all, here's the copy of my latest letter to Alliance Crap-lantis. Will it do any good? Will they bend to public pressure? Fat chance, but here you go anyway:

"Hey Alliance Atlantis!

Looks like it's FINALLY happening - you've upset a lot of people this week with a couple of major screw-ups. I know your company is no stranger to it, but this week you've really outdone yourselves.

I'm talking, of course, about the two-week delay on the special editions of Clerks, Rounders and Red Heat and the non-inclusion of the comic book prequel inside The Punisher. While our neighbours to the south are enjoying their copies, us poor dumb Canadians are forced to put up with your incompetence. May I suggest that if you're unable to produce DVDs on the advertised release date that you let someone else do it?

Between bilingual covers, dropping DTS audio tracks and continually failing to meet nationally advertised street dates, your company has alienated a great portion of your customer base. What should be done about this? Let's start:

1) Make one side of the cover English and the other French. Distribute the French covers where it's warranted. Make English covers readily available for the 75% of the country who speak it.

2) Meet the street dates. How hard can this be? You posted a $10 million profit this past year - hire a couple more people.

3) Make DTS versions available. How can you deny the sizable number of your customers who want this? You're losing more money from this than you know. Don't you want to make more money? You are a business, aren't you?

4) Stop slapping eighteen copies of your logo on every DVD release. This is absolutely ridiculous and shows more than a little inferiority complex at old Alliance Atlantis. THINK ABOUT THE AESTHETIC APPEAL OF YOUR PACKAGING! This DOES MATTER to people!

5) Include what is advertised. Is it any surprise that people would be upset to find no comic book inside their copy of The Punisher? It's what was advertised, after all. The way I see it, the comic book is another 'special feature' of the DVD, and you dropped it for no good reason.

That's it. These steps don't seem that complex, do they? All they ask is that you LISTEN to your customers and give them what they want. Since I've boycotted your company, you've lost at least $3,000 in revenue (roughly 150 DVDs) from me alone, and this amount grows every week. This doesn't please me: I would love to support a Canadian company, but for the foreseeable future, this is the way it has to be.

Thank you for your time."

Their email address again is:
homevideo@allianceatlantis.com

#13 of 62 OFFLINE   Louis_P

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Posted September 10 2004 - 09:09 AM

Looks like the Clerks release will be in an amaray case from the look of the flyer I got in the paper today and also posted on the futureshop.ca site.So no digipak on this release lol.Boy am I glad I ordered the import dvd from amazon.ca!!

Here's the link to the flyer...the real flyer is more easy to see it's an amaray case.Boy that's why they are only charging $25.99 for a 3 dvd set!!
http://flyers.future....&image_id=6334

#14 of 62 OFFLINE   Louis_P

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Posted September 10 2004 - 09:14 AM

I also hate that Universal,Dreamworks and some other companies have copied Alliance's way of making both sides bi-lingual instead of one side bi-lingual and the reverse all in english.Posted Image

#15 of 62 OFFLINE   Laurence Price

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Posted September 10 2004 - 09:18 AM

We must all think alike. Yesterday I too sent Alliance Atlantis aka the worst and most incompetant DVD distribution company not only in Canada but, maybe the world an Email too. It's pointed and harsh so I don't know if I will get a response.

Here's the Email I wrote:

"I should have been careful before I recently bought the Alliance Atlantis "Punisher" DVD because to my shock and amazement I discovered that it did not contain the comic book prequel inside that the U.S Lions Gate DVD release included. I do not deserve to be shortchanged and ripped of like this especially when paying Alliance Atlantis' outrageously inflated prices. I am upset and dismayed at this sloppiness and total lack of respect for the Canadian consumer that Alliance Atlantis has constantly and readily displayed. It's also, unfortunately getting progressively worse.

Alliance Atlantis drops the DTS tracks most of the time now from their DVD releases and substitutes it for a French track. The DVDs also now comes with hideous bilingual packaging instead of containing reversible English and French covers that could compensate for this problem. Aspect ratio foul ups, poor image transfers, the mishandling of foreign films, dropping special features, street date delays by weeks or even months (Clerk X and Red Heat are two titles more recently MIA from their original U.S street dates on Sept 7 postponed three weeks later to Sept 21). I am unable to accept this. If I listed everything that is unsatisfactory, improper and incorrect regarding the lousy and absurd decisions that Alliance Atlantis constantly without fail makes then I would be typing forever. In my opinion Alliance Atlantis is engaging in unacceptable business practices. The management at Alliance Atlantis should be ashamed for running a company like this.

Alliance Atlantis now has a reputation for being lazy and a company that couldn't care less about the quality of their products, output or customer service. If you decide to respond to this Email and try to make an honest effort to justify the actions that were carried out and decisions that were made by your company then please do not send me a canned prepared automated response which I read Alliance Atlantis usually sends out to other people who try to inquire about information or present suggestion to your company. Instead I would request a proper explanation and reason as to exactly why this is occurring since I have been a loyal and dedicated buyer of DVDs and have purchased other various products from Alliance Atlantis for years in the past all throughout your company’s rapid decline. I think I deserve that much and it would be appreciated.

Can you please tell me why this incompetence seems to be frequently happening on such a consistent basis or does Alliance Atlantis not care about customer feedback and concerns?"

#16 of 62 OFFLINE   Laurence Price

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Posted September 10 2004 - 09:26 AM

Quote:
Freaky Friday - This one's bad...they actually removed the widescreen version off of the disc (it was dual layer with Full screen on the other layer) to fit a french language track!

Freaky Friday was listed as an Alliance Atlantis release here in Canada at the beginning of this post but, I am under the impression that it is actually a Disney/Buena Vista release. Am I incorrect?

Quote:
Wonder if it's the CRTC? Or if that's what they'll hide behind at least?

You are correct, that is exactly what Alliance Atlantis is hiding behind. The CRTC is definitely not the only entity that is being used as a "protective shield" by Alliance Atlantis though.

#17 of 62 OFFLINE   Rolando

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Posted September 10 2004 - 10:12 AM

We are keeping a complete list of the titles with differences on this thread:

US release DVD VS Canadian release DVD
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#18 of 62 OFFLINE   Chris Dugger

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Posted September 10 2004 - 11:42 AM

Quote:
Should we have to pre-order all of our movies from the U.S. to get the same releases?


Yes.... If you know the version you want, then you order the damn thing.. I order discs from ALL over the world to get the proper version I want. If Alliance is not satisfying you, then you send the message with your money.

Quote:
Advertised DVDs sometimes just didn't show up on the release date with no advance warning?


This happens all the time in the USA and across the globe. Shit happens.... It does NOT benefit Alliance in ANY WAY by missing a street date.... duh!

Quote:
Advertised features weren't on the discs?


The impression I am getting from the above is that these are missing features that are advertised on the USA release but don't appear on the canadian release.... Well, I have a copy of GINGER SNAPS which is a Canadian release and it includes features not on the USA release... Am I pissed because the USA company didn't include these... Nope.... I bought the Canadian Version. Same as GOOD WILL HUNTING and eXistenZ, both which contain more materials than the USA versions.

Quote:
Advertised promotional items (like The Punisher comic) just weren't included with the DVD?


Are you saying that Alliance advertised this or you assumed that it would include it because the USA release (from a totally different company) contains it?

Quote:
Audio tracks were dropped?


Audio Tracks are dropped all the time... it is specific to the zone the disc is getting released in. I don't like it either, so I find the version I want and purchase that one.

Once again.... No DVD company is sitting around discussing ways to stick to the consumer. You vote with your dollars. It is quite apparent that allot of you feel that Alliance has dropped the ball. You have alternate means of purchase to get what you want. This is the quickest way to get them to respond to your complaints.

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#19 of 62 OFFLINE   Eric_B_C

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Posted September 10 2004 - 12:32 PM

Just received the following somewhat surly response from AA.

Quote:
Thank-you for taking the time to write to us here at Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Group, Home Video Department.


As a Canadian company distributing motion pictures on home video across the country, we feel that our releases should reflect the official languages of all provinces in which they're sold. The removal of certain features unfortunately has to happen from time to time in order to add our County's second language to the disc - in a lot of cases there simply isn't enough room on the disc to keep everything.


We regret that this does not meet with your approval but we plan to continue with a format that is inclusive of the largest number of Canadians.


In regards to the absence of the 28-page comic in the release of The Punisher; unfortunately the rights to the comic were limited to the US and we could not acquire them for Canadian distribution. We understand and appreciate the disappointment of our consumers but the absence of the comic was a legal issue.


The Canadian street date for the 10th Anniversary Edition of Clerks has been pushed to the 21st of September due, in part, to the special packaging requirements. Again we apologize for the inconvenience and are working at resolving the printing issues as soon as possible.


Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Home Video would like to thank you for your comments and suggestions. I hope this answers all of your questions, any further inquiries please don't hesitate to contact us, and thank-you once again for writing to Alliance Atlantis Home Video.

So the Punisher issue, fair enough. Still no excuse for the packaging though because why do both languages on both sides.

Will be writing back to them later since I don't buy their responses.

#20 of 62 OFFLINE   Eric_B_C

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Posted September 10 2004 - 12:43 PM

Chris: I understand your point, but you're obviously from the "don't complain" camp. The fact is, without complaints, no company would ever change their policies. If enough people complain to Alliance about, say, the packaging issue, then they'll do something about it. They have made extremely poor decisions, and unless the customer says "Hey! Fix this!" they'll never do it.

Take Coke. They changed the recipe, public complained, they changed it back. Nothing changes if you don't complain. Will a few of us complaining force Alliance to change? No, but by that token we've done all we can by contacting them and not purchasing their releases. Just because as one person you can't make a difference, doesn't mean you should sit back and not do anything.

Perhaps if Alliance were open and publicised the differences, this wouldn't be so bad, but then customers would realise they're being shafted when comparing specs with the US releases of disks. It's inexcusable to use the same advertising materials in Canada, when they have no plans to release the disks with the same specs in the first place.

As for Canadian releases getting more than the US, that's inexcusable too. If you're going to have region encoding, then it's only fair that region 1 releases are the SAME across the board. There's no excuse for re-versioning when, as far as I'm aware, outside of Quebec, only government services have to be bi-lingual.

BTW, if they hide behind the CRTC, file a complaint with the CRTC. I did this on a seperate matter last year. You can do it on their website.

While I didn't get what I wanted (which I knew wasn't going to happen anyway) they DID take the time to thoroughly examine my complaint etc...


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