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Sony Pictures continues to drop existing widescreen transfers


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#1 of 293 Jesse Skeen

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Posted April 28 2005 - 10:13 AM

I have just heard that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which has already removed the widescreen transfer from 40 or so titles that previously included both, intends to continue this abominable practice. The latest list of casualties is as follows:

Adventures Of Milo And Otis
Air Force One
The Best
Bite The Bullet
The Body
The Buddy Holly Story
Chances Are
The Cheap Detective
Deep End Of The Ocean
Desert Heat
Futuresport
Gattaca
Geronimo: An American Legend
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
Hard Times
I Dreamed Of Africa
Jackie Chan's Who Am I?
The Juror
Knock Off
MacKenna's Gold
Madeline
Mercy
No Way Back
Nowhere To Run
The Odessa File
The Order
Roxanne
Rudyard Kipling's The Second Jungle Book
Screamers
Silent Rage
Starman
Stepmom
Suspect
Sweet and Lowdown
The Thirteenth Floor
Two Moon Junction

There appears to be little rhyme or reason to which titles get the shaft, but this is just disgusting. A small number of other titles will have the pan and scan versions removed, but why do such a thing when having BOTH versions on the same disc pleases everyone??? Will Sony now stop making widescreen TVs, since apparently they aren't needed anymore? And how will they feel about illegal copies people make of these movies when they are no longer able to buy them anymore?
ADDED- I forgot that Air Force One and Gattaca have separate SuperBit releases still available, so no need to panic on those. Don't know about the rest of these titles though.
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#2 of 293 Roger Rollins

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Posted April 28 2005 - 10:19 AM

It's only the beginning. Get ready for what they will do to the MGM/UA catalog....

#3 of 293 Jesse Skeen

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Posted April 28 2005 - 10:23 AM

Well, I had hoped that some of the people in charge at MGM would be working on Sony's titles as well, since they seem to know a little more of what they're doing. (MGM has dropped "Special Edition" content from a number of titles however, and some of their DVD-18 titles are being changed as well- I spotted a copy of "Windtalkers" with ONLY the "Full Frame" version, and "Bandits" with ONLY the widescreen transfer. At least they dropped the right one on that title, but still don't see what the point of removing content is when they were pleasing everyone with both versions together.)
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#4 of 293 Russell G

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Posted April 28 2005 - 11:06 AM

Cool! there are about 3 titles on that list that I would of picked up, but now don't have too because they dropeed the wrong version. Thanks Sony! Now I can afford that extra Warner Bros classic Boxset!

I wonder how all the "families" are going to feel when all there "family friendly" full screen releases are destroyed by cropping/stretching onto the HD-TV they buy from wallmart in 3 years?

#5 of 293 Dave H

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Posted April 28 2005 - 11:09 AM

It just gives me further reason to dislike Sony.

#6 of 293 Jay Gregory

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Posted April 28 2005 - 11:23 AM

The Sweet And Lowdown and Bite The Bullet DVDs have been missing the anamorphic side at least since last summer.

So, the latest list of casualties doesn't appear to be particularly recent.

#7 of 293 Jesse Skeen

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Posted April 28 2005 - 11:28 AM

In Studio Feedback I posted a list of titles that I had personally seen on store shelves. I hadn't seen those 2 titles in stores before- I wonder how Woody Allen feels about this though since he's been a proponent of letterboxing since forever. The titles listed here are ones that I did not list earlier, and come from a list issued by the company.
What do you do if you have a widescreen TV RIGHT NOW??? If I had bought a Sony, I'd be returning it.
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#8 of 293 Bradley-E

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Posted April 28 2005 - 12:07 PM

Damn! I better find a STARMAN fast! At least AIR FORCE ONE is still a SUPERBIT (WIDESCREEN) Title if anybody needs it. SONY REALLY SUCKS!!! I hate them.

#9 of 293 JohnMor

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Posted April 28 2005 - 12:10 PM

The thing that gets me is, my brother is one of the full-screen proponents who believes he is "losing" picture with widescreen DVDs (not losing part of the film frame, but losing space on his screen, which he hates). However, he and most others like him are not going to go without the movies they love. If the studios only made OAR DVDs available, people like my brother would get accustomed to it and buy them. People like him (not cinefiles) will buy what's available. I don't know why studios even give the choice. If everything had gone OAR a few years ago, people would have adjusted by now and it wouldn't be an issue.

I think Sony is beyond help, and I thank God that the pre-1986 MGM library is now in the hands of Warner Bros.

#10 of 293 Alan_H

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Posted April 28 2005 - 12:18 PM

I guess if one of the AFI's top 100 is reduced to P&S only (GWCtD) - nothing is sacred.

Fortunately, I already own all the titles I want from that list. But thanks anyway for the heads-up Jesse Posted Image

#11 of 293 Bradley-E

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Posted April 28 2005 - 12:43 PM

Add:

IRON EAGLE
MRS. WINTERBOURNE
NO MERCY
MO' MONEY

#12 of 293 Scott Temple

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Posted April 28 2005 - 01:07 PM

More junk for the $5.00 Wal*Mart bargain bins, eh? Sony is becoming the new FArtisan. Posted Image Posted Image
Lacey Chabert is so fetch!
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#13 of 293 John*P

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Posted April 28 2005 - 01:20 PM

Could someone please give me a logical explanation as to why Sony is doing this?!

Good thing I already have the widescreen copy of Stepmom. (er, I'm not being sarcastic, I like that movie. and Jena Malone is one of my favorite actresses.)

#14 of 293 Scott Temple

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Posted April 28 2005 - 01:30 PM

Quote:
Could someone please give me a logical explanation as to why Sony is doing this?!


I'd like the answer to that one myself. It makes no sense to discard a perfectly good, readily available OAR transfer. It's there. Why not use it? If they're going to get rid of anything, why not get rid of the MAR transfers?
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#15 of 293 AnitaPeterson

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Posted April 28 2005 - 01:39 PM

Folks, I have it on good authority that this is actually part of a plan to "downgrade" the DVD format, in preparation for the new HD-DVD/Blu-Ray hybrid (remember that Sony now wants to merge the two competing formats).

I'm not joking - the new leading team at Sony is behind this - they intend to make DVDs unsuitable for widescreen TVs (which are finally slated to take off in the next two years, in North America)... There will be a strong marketing campaign to advertise the Hi-Def DVDs, when they finally hit the market, as being the ONLY way to see films they way they were meant - and this will be tied with the release of new widescrenn panels. sony has been planning this for years, now, and the final step was the MGM acquisition, which gives them control over the Bond series (a strange fetish of theirs).

#16 of 293 TravisR

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Posted April 28 2005 - 01:50 PM

So they want to forfeit literally millions of dollars (by people not buying the regular DVDs) AND be nearly the only company that is putting out fullscreen transfers in hopes to get people rebuy everything in HD? I think that's more than a little paranoidPosted Image

Maybe if every company was doing this, I could think it was possible. Until then...

#17 of 293 DaveF

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Posted April 28 2005 - 02:03 PM

Quote:
Gattaca
I guess I'd better (finally) buy Gattaca, if it's no longer going to be widescreen.

What a bizarre business practice Posted Image

#18 of 293 Jesse Blough

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Posted April 28 2005 - 02:18 PM

Yup. Every time I go through the Walmart 5 dollar bin, I see the butchered Sweet and Lowdown DVDs... I just shake my head sadly and toss them to the side. Hey Sony, I would have bought it if it was in it's OAR!

#19 of 293 Jesse Skeen

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Posted April 28 2005 - 02:21 PM

Folks, I have it on good authority that this is actually part of a plan to "downgrade" the DVD format, in preparation for the new HD-DVD/Blu-Ray hybrid (remember that Sony now wants to merge the two competing formats).


Well that's sort of what I already suspect (Sony did some other suspicious things to Laserdisc when DVD was about to come out- many of the discs produced by their pressing plant from 1996 onward rotted quickly). BUT, if so, where can I go NOW and buy these movies on HD or BluRay??? I can't even buy them on D-VHS, a format that is already on the market and ready to take my money, so my only choices are to either locate used copies, or borrow or rent one and illegally copy it. I don't consider WAITING until they are released on the next-generation format a viable option.
In any event, this action has GUARANTEED that when I finally upgrade my 4x3 TV it will NOT be a Sony, and whichever next-generation disc player I buy will also NOT be a Sony. I also won't be surprised when they dumb-down the next-generation discs to promote whatever format comes after that.
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#20 of 293 Jesse Skeen

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Posted April 28 2005 - 03:11 PM

Here's a copy of the letter I just typed up and will send via snail-mail to Benjamin Feingold, "President" of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Copies will also be sent to Sony Electronics as well as Widescreen Review, Sound And Vision and any other appropriate magazines I can think of.

Dear Mr. Feingold,

I recently purchased a DVD of "The Bear", labeled as having both widescreen and pan and scan formats on it, only to find that the disc only contained a pan and scan version. I sent the disc to your attention and your company sent me the correct disc, along with a free copy of "Grey Owl". While I appreciate this, I am afraid that your company is still taking some major steps backwards.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has already re-issued several DVD titles that previously included both Wide and "Full" screen formats with only the "Full Screen" format (really a misleading term, as it does not show the movie's full picture, nor will it fill the screen on a 16x9 set). Today I was alerted to an "Aspect Ratio Update" message issued by your company on April 8th, (exactly a month after you had sent my replacement disc) announcing that you are now "in the process of reworking" several MORE titles to exclude the widescreen transfer! This is ENTIRELY unacceptable. I appreciated how the previous releases gave one the choice of seeing the movie presented properly while having an accomodation for those who did not want to view a letterboxed image on their 4x3 screens, thus pleasing ALL of your customers (one of the early promises of the DVD format was that ALL titles would be offered this way, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside). Taking away this choice makes absolutely no sense, as it effectively makes these titles unavailable to owners of widescreen televisions or those who simply want to view the movies correctly. This seriously contradicts your prior statement mentioning "innovative products and uncompromised quality."
This is especially distressing news because when I bought my first DVD player in 1998, Sony Pictures was for the most part producing excellent-quality discs, even giving older and lesser-known titles brand-new 16x9 transfers. When there were fewer titles to choose from, I could at least depend on your company's releases to be of good quality. Sony Pictures' name has now become irreparably tarnished- first by not applying the same care to catalog titles that they used to, having since released several titles with only the "fullscreen" option, and now by the decision to DOWNGRADE previous releases. I find it very sad that a company that had such a promisingly good start with the DVD format has now gone so far downhill.
It is also perplexing how a video label owned by an electronics manufacturer such as Sony would treat its releases this way. The company's earlier titles made one eager to buy a Sony widescreen TV to take full advantage of them. Now, they are suggesting that it isn't necessary to bother upgrading from an older 4x3 set!
My confidence in the Sony brand is now entirely GONE, and I am now forced to avoid Sony Pictures releases since the newer titles do not meet Sony's former quality standards, and the older releases have now been intentionally downgraded. In addition, while I was hoping to soon upgrade my existing television, when I do I will NOT purchase a Sony because they apparently do not want me to buy DVD releases that take advantage of 16x9 sets. I'm also fully aware of the forthcoming high-definition discs; when I upgrade to that format the equipment I buy will NOT be from Sony, and even if Sony Pictures manages to produce quality releases for it I will have to question whether they will do so consistently.

Sincerely,

Jesse Skeen
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