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What's up with Warner DVD?


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#1 of 30 Brianruns10

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Posted November 15 2008 - 04:39 PM

Does anyone else get the feeling that the last year has not been the best for Warner DVD, at least as far as classics go? Roughly a year ago they put out that wonderful Jazz Singer set packed with documentaries and Vitaphone shorts. Yet this years seems to have been lackluster. The much anticipated "Quo Vadis" release seems at best a wash, and at worst downright misleading. Re-releases upon re-releases. New box sets that are nothing more than repackaging of older releases. And all the while, The "Magnficent Ambersons" languishes in DVD purgatory, along with "Greed" and other silent classics, as well as a mountain of early talkies. A few years ago, I believed that Warners was a legitimate threat to Criterion's reign as the top DVD distributor. Now I feel more and more like they're backsliding, or worse still, simply not trying, and instead waiting for the death of DVD so they can re-release everything AGAIN on blu-ray (and repeat it whenever Blu-ray's successor comes along as well).

Hopefully I'm wrong, or over exaggerating. What do you all think?

Best,
BR

#2 of 30 Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 15 2008 - 08:25 PM

Brian,

It's my opinion that the problems that Warner is experiencing is the
same throughout the rest of the industry. We are in an economic
slump. This has not been a good year for DVD sales. Even worse,
classic film is not selling as well as everyone hoped it would.

It is also my opinion that the studio is scaling back on many new
elaborate projects and being very selective over what they release.
I know a few titles that were on the front burner at WB are now being delayed.

To say that Warner is not "trying" couldn't be farther from the truth.
It's my feeling that they are trying to push many projects through but
have their hands tied by the same kind of economic cutbacks that
most businesses in this country are experiencing.

Those of us that had the privilege to be invited out to the studio a
few weeks back saw a lot of restoration activity going on. There are
still major restorations being done at the studio, with at least two HUGE
titles that we know of being released to DVD and Blu-ray next year.

Trust me, the marketing people at WB want nothing more than to
continue releasing titles from the largest film library. I think in a
few months you may see some changes that may make you rethink
your statement that the studio isn't "trying."

For now, however, I just don't feel the studios have the kind of budgets
or free reign that they once enjoyed.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#3 of 30 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted November 16 2008 - 10:44 AM

Not counting retailer exclusive stuff like the sci-fi and horror titles at Best Buy, Warner catalog releases since late Summer have included:

The Homefront Collection (Three Titles)
Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2 (Four Titles)
Quo Vadis
Gangster Colllection Vol. 4 (Five Titles + disc for new doc.)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Watership Down SE
LA Confidential SE
Busby Berkeley Collection Vol. 2 (Four Titles)
Risky Business DE
An American in Paris Two Disc SE
Gigi Two Disc SE
Beetlejuice DE
Cool Hand Luke DE
How the West Was Won UCE and Two-Disc SE
Errol Flynn Westerns Collection (Four Titles)
Western Classics Collection (Six Titles)

Over the same span of time last year, they released:

Barbara Stanwyck: The Signature Collection (Six Titles)
Leading Ladies Collection Vol. 2 (Five Titles)
Burt Lancaster: The Signature Collection (Five Titles)
Stanley Kubrick Director's Series (Five Titles plus re-packaged doc.)
The Song Remains the Same 2 Disc SE and CE
The Jazz Singer 3 Disc DE
Mickey and Judy Collection (Four Titles plus extras disc)
Deliverance DE
Troy Director's Cut (yes, it was released by the catalog folks)
Shakespeare Collection (Four Titles)
You can throw "Blade Runner" in their as well although it was a December title.

In terms of number of theatrical catalog titles either new to DVD or significantly remastered, it was pretty comparable. They have also been releasing catalog Blu-Rays at a pretty good clip, which consume their production and promotional resources as well. If they have let up on the throttle, it was not by very much.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#4 of 30 Mike*HTF

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Posted November 16 2008 - 01:42 PM

While I understand Brian's concern, I think Warner's deserves praise this year again - if for no other reason than for having had the courage to put out the Popeye set unedited and with the highly controversial war cartoons. For that alone, they have my highest praise.

#5 of 30 CineKarine

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Posted November 16 2008 - 02:53 PM

I know I have bought as many Warner titles this year as I did last year and have been in classic film heaven thanks to so many sets released since January, to name just a few: Classic Musicals vol. 3, Errol Flynn Westerns, all 3 Sinatra sets, Bette Davis vol. 3, Warner Holiday vol. 2, Pre-Code vol. 2, Busby Berkeley vol. 2...and Warner Homefront is on the way!

If January and February are signs of things to come, 2009 is going to be terrific as I already have several Warner DVDs on pre-order! In fact, I can't recall having THAT many pre-orders for the first 2 months of any given year before.

I applaud Warner for getting all those eagerly awaited releases to us, especially in such financially difficult times as these. And an added thrill is that along with big titles, we always get glorious overlooked gems in those sets (several in the Gangsters sets for instance) that few other studios would ever consider releasing in good or bad times.

In my opinion, they are not only "trying", they are succeeding most brilliantly.
Sing your worries away, smile, be kind and accentuate the positive!
DVD wish list: The Accused (48), Margie (46), I'll Get By (50), The Constant Nymph (43), The Voice of the Turtle (47), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (34), Her Twelve Men (54), The Lost Moment (47), I Walk Alone (48), The Glass...

#6 of 30 MarcoBiscotti

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Posted November 16 2008 - 09:08 PM

The only criticisms I have of their theatrical / classic film unit are in regards to the quality of transfers as of late. Their recent Classic Holiday Collection featured a bunch of sub par transfers, especially "Holiday Affair" which looked atrocious to me and was one of the studio's worst to date. Their Classic Westerns released this past fall didn't fare much better displaying a less than substantial effort in the image department. I'm not sure if this is simply a cotst issue as nobody can deny that WHV has always been the leading studio when it comes to pricing & value, but even at $10 more per set, it'd still be a bargain and frankly, if it's a choice between slightly higher MSRP's and quality of transfers... I'd be more than willing to accept that! Warner Home Video has always been a benchmark of quality and value but with the failing economy and production cutbacks, the last thing I'd want to see them become (in an extreme comparison) s another KINO Home Video, which puts out great content that's largely otherwise unavailable (silents, b-noir, etc.) but with the junkiest production values ever! That is my only real concern right now.

And while we're all throwing around ideas, how's about a third and final Flynn collection with the remaining Raoul Walsh titles like "Uncertain Glory", "Northern Pursuit", "Silver River" and "Desperate Journey" along with Lloyd Bacon's "Footsteps in the Dark" and maybe "Edge of Darkness" to round things off?

Also, if there's one star collection I want to see released this year it's a set of all the unreleased Robert Taylor Noirs!

#7 of 30 James 'Tiger' Lee

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Posted November 16 2008 - 09:13 PM

I want another Lon Chaney set!

Scaling back releases might also help individual releases sell better, and prevents over saturation

#8 of 30 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted November 16 2008 - 09:42 PM

While I agree that the Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2 had some sub-par video presentations for two of the four titles, my only A/V gripes with the Classic Westerns collection were that Escape from Fort Bravo looked awful and that Many Rivers to Cross was not in stereo. The former is likely due to its Ansco Color origins, but I cannot think of a good excuse for the latter.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#9 of 30 gunthertoody

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Posted November 16 2008 - 11:24 PM

Why are we beating up on Warner when they are the best studio for putting out the classics! The closest is Fox/MGM, but no one else is in the same league.

If you want to beat up on anyone, beat up on Universal, Sony and Paramount for their constant re and re-re-releases, and for under utilizing their libraries!

#10 of 30 Simon Howson

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Posted November 16 2008 - 11:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden
While I agree that the Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2 had some sub-par video presentations for two of the four titles, my only A/V gripes with the Classic Westerns collection were that Escape from Fort Bravo looked awful and that Many Rivers to Cross was not in stereo. The former is likely due to its Ansco Color origins, but I cannot think of a good excuse for the latter.

Regards,
Hopefully we get a 4.0 track for The Silver Chalice.

#11 of 30 ahollis

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Posted November 17 2008 - 01:39 AM

Warner has announced the most titles for 2009 with a firm date than any other company so far. I see them still plugging ahead. Paul Newman, Natalie Wood, Romance (Troy Donahue) Collection and the four classics (Yellow Rolls Royce, Goodbye Mr. Chips, etc.) are a bunch of titles. Sony has announced two and Fox/MGM just has a list with now dates, and this year's list had a lot that did not make it and was not carried over to 2009. I applaud Warners for their continued support. (but where is Raintree County?).
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#12 of 30 jdee28

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Posted November 17 2008 - 02:12 AM

I would say Fox is now the leader when it comes to releasing classic movies on DVD. Their recent Horror and Western collections have been superb, as well as their 10 film Tyrone Power collection and second Alice Faye collection. Most of the classic films they release come with an audio commentary and/or featurette, even stuff like Chandau the Magician. Warner's bonus materials for their classic films are often lacking; often it's just a cartoon and a short, no extra about the film itself.

#13 of 30 cineMANIAC

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Posted November 17 2008 - 02:34 AM

I believe the problem with most studios, not just Warner, is that everything that matters to most people has already been released, in some cases multiple times. DVD is entering its 12th year and, with a few obvious exceptions, like a widescreen Frantic and a special edition of The Road Warrior, Warners is done for. All thats left are reissues. One thing I'm peeved about is they're straying away from using original artwork on the packaging. I think thats a mistake. Also, does anyone know if Warner owns the rights to The World, the Flesh and the Devil or is it MGM?
 

 


#14 of 30 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted November 17 2008 - 03:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luisito34
... DVD is entering its 12th year and, with a few obvious exceptions, like a widescreen Frantic and a special edition of The Road Warrior, Warners is done for. All thats left are reissues.
There are a lot of things I would like to see before an SE of The Road Warrior or a widescreen Frantic. Also both of those would technically be reissues. Posted Image
Quote:
One thing I'm peeved about is they're straying away from using original artwork on the packaging. I think thats a mistake.
Not true. They did not use original artwork on the Frank Sinatra collections, Quo Vadis, The Western Classics Collection, Deliverance, and an American in Paris. Other than that, just about every catalog title from last year used original promotional art or some adaptation of it for its cover. In the case of Deliverance and An American in Paris, they had already used promo art for the earlier single disc releases. For Deliverance, at least, there were other cool posters they could have used but did not.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#15 of 30 MarcoBiscotti

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Posted November 17 2008 - 04:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luisito34
I believe the problem with most studios, not just Warner, is that everything that matters to most people has already been released, in some cases multiple times. DVD is entering its 12th year and, with a few obvious exceptions, like a widescreen Frantic and a special edition of The Road Warrior, Warners is done for. All thats left are reissues. One thing I'm peeved about is they're straying away from using original artwork on the packaging. I think thats a mistake. Also, does anyone know if Warner owns the rights to The World, the Flesh and the Devil or is it MGM?

Really, you think every single film from the silent era to present day has been released on DVD?

And of all things you're requesting... a reissue of The Road Warrior?!?

yeesh.

#16 of 30 Thomas T

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Posted November 17 2008 - 04:23 AM

"Warners is done for. All thats left are reissues."

Eh? Maybe for YOU, Luis. But for many of we classic movie lovers there are still hundreds of titles in Warners library that we want and expect to be released! Here are over 30 titles just off the top of my head and I'm sure many others have just many other titles in the Warners library they eagerly anticipate.

All The Brothers Were Valiant (1953) (Richard Thorpe)
Bachelor In Paradise (1961) (Jack Arnold)
Back From Eternity (1956) (John Farrow)
The Bribe (1949) (Robert Z. Leonard)
Born To Be Bad (1950) (Nicholas Ray)
Boy Friend (1971) (Ken Russell)
Catered Affair (1956) (Richard Brooks)
The Cobweb (1955) (Vincente Minnelli)
The Devils (1971) (Ken Russell)
Devil's Doorway (1950) (Anthony Mann)
Five Came Back (1939) (John Farrow)
Great Caruso (1951) (Richard Thorpe)
Green Dolphin Street (1947) (Victor Saville)
Honky Tonk (1941) (Jack Conway)
The Hucksters (1947) (Jack Conway)
Johnny Eager (1942) (Mervyn LeRoy)
King's Thief (1955) (Robert Z. Leonard)
Looking For Love (1964) (Don Weis)
Lusty Men (1952) (Nicholas Ray)
Moonfleet (1955) (Fritz Lang)
Opposite Sex (1956) (David Miller)
Party Girl (1958) (Nicholas Ray)
The Prize (1963) (Mark Robson)
Seven Women (1966) (John Ford)
Strawberry Statement (1970) (Stuart Hagmann)
Tea And Sympathy (1956) (Vincente Minnelli)
Tip On A Dead Jockey (1957) (Richard Thorpe)
Too Much Too Soon (1958) (Art Napoleon)
Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) (Peter Godfrey)
Two Weeks In Another Town (1962) (Vincente Minnelli)
Valley Of The Kings (1954) (Robert Pirosh)
Yolanda And The Thief (1945) (Vincente Minnelli)
Young Bess (1953) (George Sidney)

#17 of 30 Andrew Budgell

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Posted November 17 2008 - 05:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luisito34
I believe the problem with most studios, not just Warner, is that everything that matters to most people has already been released, in some cases multiple times. DVD is entering its 12th year and, with a few obvious exceptions, like a widescreen Frantic and a special edition of The Road Warrior, Warners is done for. All thats left are reissues. One thing I'm peeved about is they're straying away from using original artwork on the packaging. I think thats a mistake. Also, does anyone know if Warner owns the rights to The World, the Flesh and the Devil or is it MGM?

What an ignorant comment. There are plenty of films I'd like to see released, such as Raintree County (I know it's coming soon, but I'm getting impatient!). I haven't even heard of the two titles you mention.

#18 of 30 TravisR

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Posted November 17 2008 - 05:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Budgell
I haven't even heard of the two titles you mention.
Frantic is a movie starring Harrison Ford and (I believe) directed by Roman Polanski and The Road Warrior is a Mel Gibson movie so neither is particularly obscure.

#19 of 30 Andrew Budgell

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Posted November 17 2008 - 05:16 AM

Thanks, Travis. I don't think I'd care much for either movie, but you never know. I'm sure the fans would love upgraded DVDs and I hope they get them, but there is still so much Warners has in the vaults that have never been released.

#20 of 30 TravisR

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Posted November 17 2008 - 05:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Budgell
...there is still so much Warners has in the vaults that have never been released.
Most definitely.


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