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A few thoughts about...THE WARNER CHAT [Everyone on this forum should read this!]


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#1 of 57 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 24 2009 - 04:52 AM

Warner Bros. Live Chat Transcript

There have been so many times that I or this forum have been
called "studio shills" that it has sort become a badge that we all
proudly wear. I bring this up because I am certain by the end of
what I am about to say, someone somewhere, is going to be calling
us a "shill" for defending a studio like Warner Brothers.

My defense to these accusations is that we have a closer relationship
with all the studios than most people ever will. We know and speak
to most everyone in the Home Entertainment divisions on a semi-regular
basis. Through the years we have learned first-hand the reasons why
things are done the way they are.

Studios have embraced HTF members during our yearly meets because
it is important for them to educate consumers about some of the inner
decision making that goes into releasing product to the market. Those
who have been fortunate enough to be part of our HTF meets will attest
to the fact that politics and other unavoidable factors often result in
release delays and lost opportunities to put out that perfect Special Edition
everyone feels they deserve.


Last night we had one of the best online chats with Warner Brothers
that we ever had. There was a record 160+ attendees in the room
and we raced through approx. 42 questions in a little over two hours.
Unfortunately, we had the cut the chat short. There was a communication
error on the alloted amount of time that we had, and I got a call at
the 2-hour mark asking that we wrap things up.

I spoke with Warner Bros. this morning and they feel bad for having
to wrap up the chat when it was HOT. There is talk about there being
another chat in the near future to make up for the lost time
. The
problem is, the studio has been reading some of the feedback posted
in our forum overnight.

This goes out to the vocal minority. Most all of you were polite in
your comments this morning.


Before the chat even began last night someone openly texted to me
that the studio "lied" to them in a former chat about a certain release
that never came to fruition.

This morning, I'm on the phone with Warner Bros. reading posted
comments like these:

Quote:
The evasiveness and vagueness of many of Warner's responses is disconcerting.

Quote:
What's the purpose of the chat if they're just gonna evade questions and
just say yes and no?

Quote:
I'm annoyed Warner still isn't announcing solid plans one way or another
for THE DEVILS. It's under consideration and they're working on it, which
is pretty much the same answer they gave in a chat 4 or 5 years ago,
whenever it was. Grrrrrrrrr..... Does the question have to be asked again
in the next 2010/2011 HTF chat, with the same response?


I don't think the people that make these kind of comments really understand
the Home Entertainment business.

First, do you realize how impossible it is to get any studio to agree to a live
chat with our membership? Outside of Warner Bros., Fox has been the only
studio that has agreed to do studio chats and that was because of Peter
Staddon. Once he left, the general studio chats with Fox ceased altogether.
I was amazed they approached us for THE ROBE, and am highly appreciative
to Schawn and Kavita for making it worthwhile. I hope we made them proud.

Warner, on the other hand, has done somewhere in the area of 11 chats
with us over the years. They don't do it with any other site. That says
something incredible about their dedication to this forum and its membership.
I know for FACT that they read all your comments on a daily basis and
the reason why many of these rare titles are starting to come out is
largely based on your posted suggestions.

We can't get Fox, Paramount, Universal or Disney to do these general
studio chats. The reason is very clear why. For a studio to put themselves
on a live venue and open themselves up to any question our members
would like to ask is nothing short of suicide for them
.

....and you know what, some of your negative remarks overnight prove
exactly that!


OF COURSE there are things the studio is going to be vague about.
Do you know how competitive the studio business is? None of these
studios want to readily announce secretive release plans to the public
or each other for that matter until the time is right.

And some of those titles that you feel Warner promised you and could
not deliver upon? They didn't lie to you. Many times, the studio has
product set for release and corporate steps in and pulls it. Sometimes
they run into legal snags. As it was put to me on the phone earlier
today, "things change around here on a daily basis."

Yet, it amazes me that some of you feel the studio owes you something.

Read the transcript of last night's chat and I think you will be amazed
at the amount of revelations that were announced months early. For
every vague answer, there was a wealth of information announced last
night. And for that the studio has to wake up to a thread filled with
negative comments?

Yeah, it's true that THE BOWERY BOYS, THE DEVILS, and TWILIGHTS
LAST GLEAMING have been promised for years by the studio. Each
year they feel they are are nearing the point they can get these titles
out. I personally was told the reasons why each of these films still
have not seen the light of day, and I am confident enough to tell you
that there are very valid reasons that have nothing to do with playing
games with consumers. As these titles get released we hope to explain
to all of you what the holdup was. However, to blatantly announce
that information would greatly jeopardize the chance of those titles
every seeing the light of day.

The cold hard truth is that the studio cannot just come into a chat
and give you any piece of information you ask of them.



At this point we are trying to negotiate another chat with Warner.
However, I will tell you truthfully that the negative comments that
were posted on this forum is deterring them from doing a follow-up
this year. Can you imagine their perspective on all this? They did
what most other studios would not. They put themselves on the line
and gave all of you some really great announcements and answers to
your questions. Yet, when they had to sidestep some questions in order
to keep their cards close, they were subjected to negativity.

We are working to bring more of these chats from other studios to
this forum. However, it's going to be an impossible sell if the vocal
minority continues to post these hurtful comments.

You guys should be very proud that HTF receives more studio
interaction than any other forum of its kind. We aim to provide
both negative and positive feedback to the Home Entertainment industry.
When negative feedback is called for, we hope that our members will
continue to express it in a polite and constructive manner.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 57 OFFLINE   Pete York

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Posted March 24 2009 - 05:29 AM

Well said, Ron.

The last time I had this conversation around here, the general response was that Warner needed to toughen up a little if they couldn't take the heat. I'm of the mind that you should at all times be no less than courteous to an invited guest who you hope will want to return one day. Others don't agree.

So, while you said what needed to be said, I think it falls on deaf ears. Some would rather be adversarial than genial and there are always going to be those who feel it is well within their right to speak, shall we say, indelicately. Which it is. Just as it is Warner Bros. right to never come back here. It's just not especially helpful from 'our' standpoint if you're trying to build a relationship.

#3 of 57 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted March 24 2009 - 05:45 AM

Nice post, Ron.

I'd just like to say that I appreciate Warner taking the time to discuss things with everyone. And I hope that they don't think that the vocal minority (whose only apparent joy in life is complaining) do not represent everyone at HTF and that the majority of us are happy for the opportunity to communicate with them.

#4 of 57 OFFLINE   MikeIMH

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Posted March 24 2009 - 05:58 AM

Thanks, Ron.

That needed to be said.

We are very fortunate to be able to have a two way dialogue with Warner Bros and to be able to influence even in a small way their release choices.

I think we just have to let them know how grateful most of us are that they take the time to "chat" with us, and to reinforce that the discordant notes are from a vocal minority among us.

Mike

#5 of 57 OFFLINE   Chris S

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Posted March 24 2009 - 06:07 AM

Very nice post Ron.

While I missed the actual chat due to work obligations (darn economy) I did follow up with the transcript and the feeling I took away from that was nothing short of admiration for Warner and their participants. Like you said, no other studio goes to these same lengths.

It is my hope that Warner does see that these overly negative comments are from a small minority and do not represent the vast majority of the HTF that greatly appreciates their participation on our forum.
DVD & Blu-ray - It's all about the movies!

#6 of 57 OFFLINE   John_S

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Posted March 24 2009 - 06:31 AM

My thanks to Warner also. I couldn't be more enthusiastic about all of the new product announcements, and when reading through the posts this afternoon thought the same thing about the negative comments and complaints.

#7 of 57 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted March 24 2009 - 06:46 AM

As annoyed as I am by their silents being delayed year after year, at least they're going to do it right by working with Kevin Brownlow. Compare to Kino, which continues to release PAL-to-NTSC releases or omitting scores even when fans constantly criticize these decisions. I'd hope WB learned a bit from the irritating work on the Chaplin DVDs.

But I'd like to hope that the delays work out to be good for timing BluRay releases with some of the more prominent silents like Greed, The Big Parade, and The Crowd. Even if the MSRP needs to be around $40 like the TCM Archives sets. I have no problems with paying that much for a comprehensive Greed BluRay.

At least WB puts an effort to answer questions. Some other studios seem to turn a blind eye. The economy is terrible right now and I can't blame any studio for having to scale back projects for classics. Except for the studio that insists only classics with John Wayne sell on DVD.

#8 of 57 OFFLINE   silentman74

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Posted March 24 2009 - 08:16 AM

I also agree with Ron regarding the negative comments.

As I am also guilty of posting negative thoughts before the chat begun, I was disappointed by the lack of knowledge about international releases. This was somewhat understandable, if not a bit premature considering that no one really knew what the plans were. I don't remember Warner's issuing a press release on their new archive collection so before the chat, many had to wait and figure out how they could get these movies. At least Warner's opened the chat stating that international orders would be accepted in the future.

As I posted in another thread, I think that forum members should put together a list of questions, so Warner's could answer them. Members would ask questions as before, but a least there would be some control on what questions are asked. Remember, Warner's is sitting on a lot of knowledge here , and the only way we are going to learn about upcoming projects is to ask the right questions. I doubt Warner's will just tell us everything at once.

After the forum, several members seemed disappointed that someone else did not ask about certain movies or actors. I wanted someone to ask about Lon Chaney since a collection has been promised in previous chats, but no one did. Yet, there were questioned asked about movies already on disc like Superman and Batman. Maybe the next chat could focus on pre 1970 films. This might seem unfair, but with each chat, we hear questions about the same films over and over, and these members are the ones that seem disappointed when they learn Warner's have no plans for them.

Anyway, if Warner's is reading these commands, please keep up the good work, give us plenty of Silents and please, please, ignore the negative comments here. You deserve better.

#9 of 57 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted March 24 2009 - 08:40 AM

Very well said, Ron.

I think by this point everyone knows how overjoyed I am about the latest Archives announcement and about the chat last night. I actually postponed a trip - flight and all - to be able to participate! I was happy with most of the questions asked (considering every question appeals to different persons) and greatly enthusiastic about the answers and I honestly could not ask for more after hearing all about the Archives Collection. I mean, can anything EVER beat this? An endless array of films, every month. Wow!

As I said in an earlier post this morning, I am so sincerely grateful to the HTF who hosted the chat and to Warner for being willing to share so much with us. It IS a privilege and I am not taking it for granted. There will always be complainers, but they are not the vast majority. It's just that they are usually more vocal than the happy, but calmer majority. Posted Image Thank you for a very rewarding experience and for all the amazing, triumphant news we've had in the past few days.
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...

#10 of 57 OFFLINE   Ed Moroughan

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Posted March 24 2009 - 08:50 AM

Excellent post Ron. We are damn lucky that any company decides to talk directly to us, and I thank them for spending that time here. I missed the opportunity to ask about more Cinerama releases, but if WB decide to come back soon hopefully I'll get a chance. I have yet to look through the Archive site but it's my next stop. Thanks WB! Posted Image

#11 of 57 OFFLINE   RafaelPires

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Posted March 24 2009 - 08:54 AM

I totally agree with Mr. Epstein and Karine.
The only won that angry nowis my wallet, considering the amount of titles I'll have to buy from this Archives Collection.
Tks again, WB!

#12 of 57 OFFLINE   Anthony Thorne

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Posted March 24 2009 - 09:32 AM

I wrote the grumpy DEVILS post and want to apologise to Warners and HTF for the narky tone of it. They preluded their response to the original query with a hint that they were fully aware of its hot potato status and the various threads here and elsewhere requesting it. Logically, if it aint out, something's holding it up, and it was foolish of me to vent my frustration at the good WHV folks for things that are likely out of their hands. Apologies to Ron, HTF and Warner.

#13 of 57 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted March 24 2009 - 10:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein

My defense to these accusations is that we have a closer relationship
with all the studios than most people ever will. We know and speak
to most everyone in the Home Entertainment divisions on a semi-regular
basis. Through the years we have learned first-hand the reasons why
things are done the way they are.

To add to this people could also start up their own website, get a few sources and see how some of this stuff really works. God knows you don't have to have a massive site like this one but even a small one with a few members would work because one "source" or studio could teach people a lot.

I hit upon your quotes in the original thread last night but before the chat was over, sure enough, a wildfire had broken out about "lies" the studio were spreading. A bunch of B.S. that goes around as the truth, which is sad.

#14 of 57 OFFLINE   Tim Tucker

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Posted March 24 2009 - 10:21 AM

I agree with everything you wrote, Ron!

There was a lot of useful information in that chat transcript.

And the sense of entitlement and lack of manners that lay behind some of those comments is unfortunate.

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#15 of 57 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted March 24 2009 - 10:23 AM

A lot of it also has to do with people just liking to feel cheated. Posted Image

I'm sure if titles XYZ were announced the same people would just get upset that the next three on their list weren't talked about.

#16 of 57 OFFLINE   DavidJ

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Posted March 24 2009 - 10:53 AM

I read this thread earlier today, but I was not able to post at the time. Now that I have the time to post, most of what I would've said has been more eloquently stated by other members of the forum. I especially appreciated the Pete's comments about invited guests. Seeing as we're all really guests here, courtesy should rule the day.

I don't think that means we can't discuss valid criticisms and questions, but it does inform how we discuss those issues. One of the strong points of this forum is that for a group of passionate, opinionated people our discussions remain civil. I think it is one of the reasons that a company like Warners is willing to have a chat here.

As we all tend to be passionate about the films we love, I also think we should be willing to cut the the "vocal minority" some slack. Like those that have posted already, I too appreciated Ron's post as it is indicative of how this forum is led and we have already had some of that "minority" respond positively to the post. I think that speaks well of the forum membership.

Even though I thanked Warners in another thread, I'd like to reiterate it here. They certainly have no obligation to engage in these chats and the fact that they do underscores their commitment to bringing their films to the home video market and to the customers that make up that market.

One of the negative comments that really stood out to me was along the lines of "messing with their customers." No successful company that I know of would "mess" with their customers. I think Ron's post does a good job of explaining the many factors that are at work regarding the flow of information and product. It is natural to want to know more or to be disappointed in product delays---I often am, but that doesn't mean that Warners or any other studio doesn't value its customers. They do want our money after all. Posted Image

#17 of 57 OFFLINE   Anthony Neilson

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Posted March 24 2009 - 11:16 AM

Absolutely agree with you, Ron. It must feel like a very thankless task at times.

Just two slightly lateral points, though.

The first is that WB should understand that people respond in this way because they care, possibly to an unhealthy degree. I, myself, was struck by quite an irrational feeling of anxiety when I heard that BARRY LYNDON, one of my favourite films, wasn't coming to Blu-ray.

It's pathetic, in some ways, to care so much about something so essentially trivial. Probably most of us need therapy. But that passion that gets us foaming at the mouth when we find out they're not releasing that obscure cowboy movie only we remember in high def or anamorphic or its original stereoscopic, sepia-tint, roadshow version - that's the same passion that means we'll buy everything and not just once; that's the same passion that means we'll disseminate information throughout the internet and bully our neighbours into investing in Blu-ray.

WB don't need to talk to us. But they do need us, for all our whining, just like we need them, with all their cloak-and-dagger politics. They don't have to talk to us but it's damn good policy to do so, because we are their footsoldiers. And like any footsoldiers, we'll complain about the Generals. But we'll still be the ones that go into battle when it comes to it; no matter how bitter the recession gets, we'll be the ones missing lunch so we can buy that frankly awful old horror movie. We'll just bitch that they're starving us while we do.

I hope they understand that. I'm pretty sure they do.

Second point is this: the format. With respect, I think maybe the chat format causes more anxiety than is necessary. People are desperate to view the chat and lots of them can't; people are desperate to get their questions asked; people are annoyed because no-one's asking the questions they want asked; people are annoyed because people are asking damn fool questions and wasting the little time we have. It's a recipe for discontent and that's before the studio's said anything.

Now I'm not sure how you fix that, but personally I've always felt that the rule about not deciding what's asked beforehand - whilst I understand it in some ways - is more of a hindrance than a help. Might there not be some way to reach a consensus about what's asked, and/or who's asking it? We might lose some of the gloriously democratic nature of the chats but it might be worth it for the increase in ground covered.

Perhaps we could even just vote on twenty movies and make sure they get asked about before dealing with other issues. It might mean the blood presssure's a bit steadier when the chat begins.

I don't know. I know more about studio politics than I do about running a forum and that's not saying much; so I could be talking out my beard. Hope you take these comments in the helpful spirit in which they're suggested.
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#18 of 57 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted March 24 2009 - 11:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by silentman74
As I posted in another thread, I think that forum members should put together a list of questions, so Warner's could answer them. Members would ask questions as before, but a least there would be some control on what questions are asked.

I think that this would be a very good idea as well.

HTF members could make a list of WANT titles to give to Warner, and they can say at the beginning "Of the list, there are plans for ..." That way, if someone can't make the chat, or doesn't get called on, they could get an answer.

That way, the chat could focus on larger issues rather than just a list of "Will this be released on DVD?" questions.

As for the tone of the boards, all I can say is I guess we now know why no one from TV companies holds chats here. The Warner threads were civilized tea parties compared to some of the discussions in the TV section.

#19 of 57 OFFLINE   WadeM

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Posted March 24 2009 - 11:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
They did
what most other studios would not. They put themselves on the line
and gave all of you some really great announcements and answers to
your questions. Yet, when they had to sidestep some questions in order
to keep their cards close, they were subjected to negativity.


I read some of the negative comments last night right after the chat, and was thinking all the way home from work about responding just the way you did, albeit not so eloquently. Very well stated.

It boggles my mind that WB goes out of their way to spend a significant amount of time to chat with HTF, and brought us such excellent news, only to have people say "What's the purpose of the chat if they're just gonna evade questions and just say yes and no?"

I loved the chat last night!! I was ecstatic when it was done for all I had learned. There's so much good stuff coming that I want.

I sincerely hope that WB comes back, but, with such negative, unappreciative, responses like what I've read from some HTF members...

I can't imagine inviting someone over to treat them like that.

#20 of 57 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted March 24 2009 - 11:25 AM

Its because of many reasons, that i own more Warner DVDs and Blu-rays, than all the other studios, combined. Not just because they have the biggest movie library in the world. They simply know how to do it!

Thanks for everything WB, wish i could of been in the chat!