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DVD Release Window and the Movie Theater versus Television viewing experience.


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#1 of 63 Vincent-P

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Posted October 28 2005 - 03:31 PM

"Well, if Steven Soderberg has anything to say about it, it won't be that long. There are plans in place to release his next feature, Bubble, on DVD at the same time it hits theaters."


Yeah, but if M. Night Shyamalan has anything to say about it, it will never happen.

http://imdb.com/news/sb/2005-10-28/

(sixth article)

#2 of 63 Elijah Sullivan

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Posted October 28 2005 - 10:12 PM

I agree with Shyamalan completely. Much as I love DVD, I would rather see a film once in the theater than own it forever on DVD. And I would feel the same as a filmmaker - if I could get a limited theatrical release or a wide DVD distribution, I'd go for the theatrical release.

As for the DVD window... why hasn't somebody tried releasing the DVD two years later? I'd imagine that it would actually increase consumer desire rather than decrease it. If Revenge of the Sith was coming out next year rather than next Tuesday, it might be the biggest DVD seller ever because people would be crazy to see it again.

#3 of 63 Gary Palmer

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Posted October 29 2005 - 01:53 AM

Let's face it, Hollywood is already halfway to eliminating the 'theatrical exhibition' side of things altogether, with movies which are clearly and specifically designed to look and play better on TV than on theater screens. Shyamalan is absolutely right to sound warning bells about the idea of day-and-date theatrical/DVD/TV releases, which - as far as I can see - is the greatest danger to theatrical exhibition ever.

Of course, doom merchants have been prophesying the 'End of Cinema' since the 1950's, when exhibition was rescued from the threat of television by new technologies which allowed for wider screens and multichannel sound. They also said the same thing about VHS, which actually boosted the market for theatrical exhibition and was never a real threat to the film industry anyway, partly because of VHS' relatively poor quality.

But DVD and the rise of home theater is a different kettle of fish altogether, soon to be made worse by the introduction of hi-def discs and the imminent arrival of HVD and ultra-HD displays (with 4K resolution - it's a while off, but it's coming). The pristine audio-visual quality, together with bigger, wider TV displays, means people can replicate 'the theatrical experience' to a fair degree in their own homes. And because most movies are tailored (in visual terms) to that medium, they play just fine, though at the expense of visual impact.

I'm hoping Jackson has been misquoted, and that the DVD won't be coming out until late summer at the very least. Otherwise, what should have been one of the Cinematic Events of the early 21st century seems destined to be little more than 'just another movie', shot in Super 35 with TV in mind, and destined to become a worthless footnote in movie history. Personally, I don't think the DVD should arrive in stores anytime before Christmas 2006, but the fact that it's being rushed onto DVD so quickly demonstrates exactly where Hollywood's head is at right now.

As for movies being released theratrically and on DVD at the same time, I have a feeling theater owners won't take the matter lying down, and they'll end up boycotting such 'product'. I don't blame 'em, either!!

Seems there's no longer a movie industry, only a DVD industry. And that's hardly a good place to be...

#4 of 63 Kyle_D

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Posted October 29 2005 - 02:03 AM

Quote:
Otherwise, what should have been one of the Cinematic Events of the early 21st century seems destined to be little more than 'just another movie', shot in Super 35 with TV in mind, and destined to become a worthless footnote in movie history.


Yes, because the DVD release date and the film format it was shot in are what determines that Posted Image

#5 of 63 Gary Palmer

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Posted October 29 2005 - 02:40 AM

Yes, because the DVD release date and the film format it was shot in are what determines that

In this case, the DVD release date and movie format are entirely symptomatic of Jackson's intentions for the film. He clearly sees the 'theatrical release' as nothing more than a dress rehearsal for The Real Thing (the disc release), which suggests compromise all the way down the line. It may look perfectly fine on a big screen, but I suspect it will look like most other movies shot in Super 35 with DVD in mind - panoramic landscape shots which can be easily cropped and/or altered, lots of cramped close-ups and plenty of grain (which the digital intermediate process was supposed to eliminate, but hasn't - it's clearly discernible on the big screen, but easier to hide on DVD).

The 'rolling eyes' icon suggests you don't agree with my assessment, Kyle. Am I mistaken?

#6 of 63 Mark Lucas

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Posted October 29 2005 - 03:18 AM

I thought Jackson's Kong is a flat 1.85:1 film?

Edit: Nevermind. It is a Super-35 shoot.

The widescreen version will be the most bought edition anyway. Shooting in Super-35 will only really come in handy when it shows on HBO in HD. Everything else I'm sure is artistic preference.

#7 of 63 Steve Warren

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Posted October 29 2005 - 03:39 AM

What Shyamalan says is true, to some extent. The elimination or reduction of the theatrical release to DVD window will hurt theaters in the short term, but I don't see it killing the theatrical experience completely. I don't see DVD doing what TV couldn't.

I think this could conceivably provide theater owners with incentive to improve their environments and offer something more to their patrons than the home setting allows. Maybe they could bring back the double bill or gimmicks like William Castle used to use. Something, anything, to make the theater going experience something special.

#8 of 63 Steve Warren

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Posted October 29 2005 - 03:53 AM

Quote:
Let's face it, Hollywood is already halfway to eliminating the 'theatrical exhibition' side of things altogether, with movies which are clearly and specifically designed to look and play better on TV than on theater screens. Shyamalan is absolutely right to sound warning bells about the idea of day-and-date theatrical/DVD/TV releases, which - as far as I can see - is the greatest danger to theatrical exhibition ever.


Should this happen, I think we won't be seeing too many King Kongs or Lord of the Rings type films. Huge budget spectacles are gambles, even with both the theatrical distribution and home video arms firmly in place. You cut off one stream entirely and you're looking at double the risk.

Kong needs the box office to make its money. It will make a great deal on DVD, don't get me wrong, but with a 200 million dollar budget on the line, Universal can't afford running the risk. Kong, I'm sure, would probably need to pull down well over twice its budget to turn a profit.

#9 of 63 Jim Smith

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Posted October 29 2005 - 05:02 AM

I am pretty sure there is some deal between Universal and Toshiba for an HD-DVD version of this movie. Possibly day to date.

#10 of 63 Gary Palmer

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Posted October 29 2005 - 06:06 AM

Piracy is an important issue, to be sure, and it needs to be tackled at every level. But the end result of Hollywood's concerns over piracy, and the adoption of policies which will clearly harm theatrical exhibition, means there's a Catch-22 situation in effect. Releasing movies on DVD the same day as its theatrical bow is not the answer, because such a policy (existing side by side with the audiovisual quality of DVD and hi-def material) will surely lead to the decline of theatrical exhibition. M Night Shyamalan voiced those fears at ShowEast last Thursday, and George Lucas was recently quoted as saying:

"There is a difference between how you make things for big screen and small screen. When you're designing for DVD, you tend to end up with more close-ups, and your wide shots aren't so wide. I don't subscribe to that stylistic shift, but a lot of kids making movies now grew up on TV and DVDs -- not films in theaters - so that's how they make movies."

We have much to thank DVD for, but it has generated a rot which is going to devastate the industry. Maybe not tomorrow, next week, or next year - but somewhere down the line. KING KONG is simply a part of that rot, a 'big film' which is beginning to smell more and more like a direct-to-video effort, despite the $200 million price tag. As I said earlier, the theatrical release is nothing more than a dress rehearsal. That's not 'film'-making. I don't know what it is, but it isn't filmmaking.

#11 of 63 Mark Walker

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Posted October 29 2005 - 06:12 AM

Jackson's 4 disc sets for the extended cuts of LOTR don't seem to have been scaled for television.

Quote:
As I said earlier, the theatrical release is nothing more than a dress rehearsal. That's not 'film'-making. I don't know what it is, but it isn't filmmaking.


To make a statement like that about a film none of has even seen yet...a film that isn't even finished, seems a bit off.

Paramount, please release DRAGONSLAYER on Blu-ray

Dragonslayer_1981HTF_zps4e370848.jpg

 

 

Vermithrax Pejorative deserves to be seen in high-def.


#12 of 63 Gary Palmer

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Posted October 29 2005 - 06:58 AM

To make a statement like that about a film none of has even seen yet...a film that isn't even finished, seems a bit off.

Not at all. As you say, the movie isn't even finished yet, and Jackson has already announced the date of the DVD release, a release which seems - to me, anyway - to reek of unseemly haste, notwithstanding possible concerns over piracy. This 'blockbuster' won't be in theaters for more than a blink of an eye before it's shuttled off to DVD, never to see the light of a projector again, at least not for general consumption.

This, for a movie which had the potential to be a cultural event, one of the most successful epics ever made, yet which turns out to be aimed more at DVD than anything else. Jackson has made a huge thing about the extra material he's been gathering during production for the disc release, as if the theatrical version was of secondary importance. Sure, the movie will open big and make a hell of a lot of money. And then it'll be gone to DVD, replaced by another blockbuster, and so on and so forth. So much for the 'cultural event'.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope it looks great on the big screen, in which case it'll look great on DVD. But your reference to the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy doesn't fill me with much cause to hope: In terms of 'widescreen', they look no better or worse than most other Super 35 movies, with TV-friendly compositions which look suitably big (not wide, you understand - just big) in theaters, and which seem designed to play better on TV. No doubt some will disagree with this assessment, but I've loved widescreen movies all my life, and - IMHO - the RINGS movies are not good examples of widescreen photography. Let's hope KING KONG proves me wrong.

#13 of 63 Paul_Scott

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Posted October 29 2005 - 11:47 AM

Quote:
KING KONG is simply a part of that rot, a 'big film' which is beginning to smell more and more like a direct-to-video effort, despite the $200 million price tag. As I said earlier, the theatrical release is nothing more than a dress rehearsal. That's not 'film'-making. I don't know what it is, but it isn't filmmaking.



the proof is in the pudding Gary. for me, Sith was a very small minded, petty film that gluttonous cgi spectacle couldn't obfuscate. other people would strenuously disagree, and where i see cheapness, they see epic scale.

whether the dvd comes out in 6 weeks or 6 years doesn't change the inherent quality of the film (or the difference in how you or i will percieve that quality), and i can't give a good piss in the wind how somebody else's impressions of it may be negatively impacted by such a facile, after the fact, difference.
films exist in theaters for a nano second compared to the future existence on home video. its theatrical run is a blip. it's now advance advertising and ballyhoo for its 'true' primary point of exploitation- the dvd rack.

if the movie is good (and i'm going to be disappointed if it isn't great at this point) then waiting till April is going to seem like torture.
fwiw, i hate going to the theater now. i have a relatively modest to small screen , by front projection standards, but its hearty enough to immerse me. and the absence of cell phones, rambunctious unsupervised kids, teen age punk wise-asses, tubucular ward escapees, and the like is very much appreciated.

#14 of 63 Gary Palmer

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Posted October 30 2005 - 12:25 AM

films exist in theaters for a nano second compared to the future existence on home video. its theatrical run is a blip. it's now advance advertising and ballyhoo for its 'true' primary point of exploitation- the dvd rack.

Yes, that's becoming more and more obvious. And KING KONG is just that little bit more blatant about it. It's this very situation which will destroy theatrical exhibition in the long term and turn everything into... television.

[Not that there's anything wrong with TV, you understand. At its best, TV is a fine medium - on TV. But when I watch a movie, I want it to look like a movie, and today's generation of filmmakers don't really seem to know the difference].

#15 of 63 Kyle_D

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Posted October 30 2005 - 03:09 AM

Quote:
The 'rolling eyes' icon suggests you don't agree with my assessment, Kyle. Am I mistaken?


I do disagree with you. In 20 years, nobody is going to care when the DVD of King Kong first came out or whether it was originally shot Super35 or not. They'll judge it on its merits as a film. If it's a great movie, it will be remembered as such.

Do you honestly think that Return of the King will be remembered as a "worthless footnote in movie history" because it came out on DVD only 5 months after its theatrical release and was shot in Super35? Of course it won't.

#16 of 63 Paul_Scott

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Posted October 30 2005 - 03:30 AM

Quote:
Not that there's anything wrong with TV, you understand. At its best, TV is a fine medium - on TV. But when I watch a movie, I want it to look like a movie, and today's generation of filmmakers don't really seem to know the difference.


i understand the point you are getting at Gary, but i wouldn't neccessarily agree.
if you are differentiating between stories told mostly in close-ups and medium shot (what was the primary MO of TV in the past) and the contrary (primarily medium shots and long shots) then i think technology is going to blur these differences the further along we go.
with NTSC resolution and 27" screen, the close/medium paradim was neccessary- with the arrival of HD and the probabilities of larger and larger screens, this is not going to be defacto anymore.

now if you are talking about story content, that's another issue.
but i honestly think some of the tv sets available on dvd now blow away most well hyped theatrical features produced in the same time period.
personally, i'll take the first two seasons of Alias over the last 4 James Bond films in a heartbeat (haven't seen Lost yet, but have heard nothing but raves there as well).

#17 of 63 Gary Palmer

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Posted October 30 2005 - 06:06 AM

I do disagree with you.

Then you should have been clearer. The 'rolling eyes' emoticon was unnecessary - I'm happy to debate opposing points of view. :wink:

In 20 years, nobody is going to care when the DVD of King Kong first came out or whether it was originally shot Super35 or not. They'll judge it on its merits as a film. If it's a great movie, it will be remembered as such.

Of course it will, but my argument is primarily concerned with the way movies are distributed in the current arena, and how the shift to DVD has impacted artistic integrity. Had KING KONG been photographed in 65mm (or even anamorphic 35mm) and been given the kind of campaign which once sustained 'big' films for months at a time in theaters around the world, then I wouldn't have been so bothered about the eventual DVD release. But it was actually filmed in Super 35 and will be shunted off to home video after about five minutes on the big screen, and that must impact the visual quality of a film like this. Recent experience of Super 35 movies - big and small - suggests Film has become a slave to the limitations of Television, and KING KONG may be no different. Or maybe not - we'll see. But is it any wonder fewer people are bothering to see movies in theaters these days, when they can see comparable material on TV any old night of the week?

Do you honestly think that Return of the King will be remembered as a "worthless footnote in movie history" because it came out on DVD only 5 months after its theatrical release and was shot in Super35? Of course it won't.

Time will tell. I know you were making a general point about my use of the "worthless footnote" phrase, but I was referring specifically to KING KONG, not RETURN OF THE KING. Kong may turn out to be a great movie, but I'm disappointed that Jackson seems to be playing up the DVD version before it's even opened theatrically, as if the latter was little more than a formality. I hope Jackson proves me wrong, but his attitude suggests that the film will look like a $200 million TV movie. The fact that he shot it in Super 35 rather than anamorphic simply reaffirms my personal viewpoint. (I don't intend to start another debate about the merits - or not - of Super 35, except to say that Jackson claims one of the reasons he chose that format is because he can't get hold of anamorphic lenses in New Zealand, though it's hard to believe a filmmaker of his stature would have any difficulty in getting Panavision or any other company to supply him with appropriate lenses, anywhere in the world).

#18 of 63 Paul_Scott

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Posted October 30 2005 - 06:36 AM

Quote:
Had KING KONG been photographed in 65mm (or even anamorphic 35mm) and been given the kind of campaign which once sustained 'big' films for months at a time in theaters around the world, then I wouldn't have been so bothered about the eventual DVD release. But it was actually filmed in Super 35 and will be shunted off to home video after about five minutes on the big screen, and that must impact the visual quality of a film like this.


Gary, some of the weaker looking 'big' dvd releases this past year, have resulted from the studios going back to the original larger format negatives. the information may be there on the film to produce a stunning image for a home format, but transfering it is compromised due to either prohibitive cost or lagging, creaky technology to accomdate these larger formats.

X2 was filmed in Super 35 and it looks excellant to my eyes on dvd. i'm not really worried about Kong.

#19 of 63 Kyle_D

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Posted October 30 2005 - 07:15 AM

Then instead of saying "a worthless footnote in movie history" you should have said "a worthless footnote in distribution history" Posted Image

I would love to see event films start being filmed in 65 mm again. Problem is, there's not enough venues capable of projecting it anymore. The closest thing to 65mm that the studios have been releasing in lately is IMAX DMR (which is particularly well-suited to Super35). I hear Jackson was very excited about releasing King Kong in this format and was disappointed when Universal couldn't negotiate a deal with IMAX to release Kong this way.

The problem is that the huge multiplexes have taken so much of the "experience" out of going to the theater that doing so no longer feels like an event. More often than not, it feels like a hassle. I can't blame the filmmakers if they're not terribly excited about the theatrical releases of their films nowadays when the home video release is what will be seen and studied for generations after the film has left the theaters.

If the studios and theatrical venues ever found a way (besides 3D) to restore the event status of going to the movies, either by building more IMAX theaters to distribute DMR releases or by bringing back 70mm as a viable format, I think you'd see filmmakers embracing the theatrical release more than they are now.

#20 of 63 Gary Palmer

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Posted October 30 2005 - 07:35 AM

if you are differentiating between stories told mostly in close-ups and medium shot (what was the primary MO of TV in the past) and the contrary (primarily medium shots and long shots) then i think technology is going to blur these differences the further along we go.

Honestly, I don't see how the two mediums could become any more blurred than they are today. It may, of course, have much to do with TV adopting some of the stylistic tropes of theatrical features (and vice versa), but I get a general feeling from the way movies are composed within the frame these days that filmmakers are more concerned with the TV version than anything else, which results in visual compromises. And their concerns are entirely misplaced: REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, for instance, plays just fine on 16:9 screens, and that film uses every inch of the CinemaScope frame for the duration of the entire movie!

with NTSC resolution and 27" screen, the close/medium paradim was neccessary- with the arrival of HD and the probabilities of larger and larger screens, this is not going to be defacto anymore.

There's a glimmer of hope in what you're saying, Paul. Home theater is in a state of flux at the moment, and - as I've argued on other threads at this very forum - it will eventually mutate into HD, followed by ultra-HD (upwards of 4K resolution) with 21:9 screens, though 16:9 will probably be retained for 'regular' broadcasts for some time to come. But as HT evolves and screens get bigger and wider, filmmakers may well return to lateral composition in 'widescreen' movies and abandon the use of Super 35 altogether (which is used specifically to accommodate TV, at least according to its greatest advocate, James Cameron). Sadly, this may take a long time to come to pass, so we're stuck with 'TV friendly' movies for the time being.

X2 was filmed in Super 35 and it looks excellant to my eyes on dvd.

X2 is a terrific example of what can be achived with Super 35, when used properly. Unsurprisingly, the supplemental material on the DVD revealed that director Bryan Singer had his video-tap monitor framed exclusively at 2.35:1 during the shoot, resulting in images which were clearly focused on the theatrical image and nothing else.

Most other filmmakers have their monitors 'opened up' to 1.33, with the 2.35 frame marked off within the open screen, ostensibly to 'compose for one ratio while protecting for others'. This practice has given rise to a slew of cramped, cropped, ugly-looking movies, of which X2 is thankfully not an example!! Posted Image

i'm not really worried about Kong.

I hope you're right. And for all my bitching, I'll be one of those standing in line to see the movie, come December. Posted Image


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