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An open letter to Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

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#1 of 92 ONLINE   MatthewA

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Posted February 25 2013 - 08:52 AM

To Whom It May Concern,


I have been a Disney fan since I was first able to form memories. In fact, some of my fondest memories revolve around Disney movies, whether watching them on The Disney Channel in the 1980s, going to see them when they were re-released in theaters, sharing memories of the films with my parents, who also grew up with Disney movies, and introducing them to my little sisters when they were born. We always used to go to Disneyland as a family when we visited my grandparents in Southern California. In short, these films have affected my life profoundly. That’s why I want to see them get the best treatment possible.

When Disney started releasing catalog titles on Blu-Ray, I was excited about the possibility of getting my favorite Disney films in pristine quality discs that will retain their quality for generations to come. I was also happy to see The Muppet Christmas Carol get some attention. I was disappointed with the fact that the DVD versions only included the uncut version in pan-and-scan, unlike the laserdisc, which is now the only version that represents anything resembling the creators’ original intent. The director of the film didn’t want to cut “When Love is Gone,” and though it’s not my film, I thought cutting it ripped the heart out of the break-up between Scrooge and Belle. The song told why their relationship ended, clarifying how Scrooge turned into a miser. I was hoping the Blu-ray would offer an option to watch both the theatrical and extended versions of the film, but the song is nowhere to be found, not even as an extra. I will be glad to add a Blu-ray version that includes the extended version, but since the missing song robs the love story of its emotional conclusion, the theatrical cut is a compromised version of the film. There’s still time for the studio to invite Brian Henson to do a definitive director’s cut, which I believe would have enticed more people to buy the disc.

I understand Disney wants to include original theatrical versions of all their films, but sometimes the original theatrical version is a compromise of the creators’ intentions. After Walt died, the studio subjected The Happiest Millionaire and Bedknobs and Broomsticks to huge wholesale cuts against the creators’ wishes. In one of the latter film’s DVD extras, Richard M. Sherman basically said he preferred the long version of Bedknobs and regretted the fact that huge cuts were made before its release. I happen to agree with him (and the less said about the 97 minute version made for the 1979 re-issue, the better). When they cut the film back in 1971, they didn’t cut fat, they cut meat.


The re-instatement of “With a Flair” and the subplot about Mrs. Hobday trying to find a husband for Miss Price do a great deal to flesh out the relationship between her and Mr. Browne, deepening the characters and Mr. Browne’s sense of fear about committing to anything. Likewise, “Nobody’s Problems” reveals that Miss Price is basically lying to herself about wanting to live her life alone; she’s just as afraid of being alone as Mr. Browne is of commitment. The complete “Portobello Road” dance sequence symbolizes what the film is all about: people who are brought together by circumstance, not by choice, setting aside their differences to unite against a common enemy. The dancers are of different backgrounds that all would have fared poorly in a Nazi-dominated world. If the footage of the still-missing “Step in the Right Direction” can never be found, that will be a shame, but a seamless branching option to watch the photo reconstruction in the body of the film would be a step in the right direction. The song would have shown another, more joyful side of Miss Price, expressing how dedicated she is to the idea of being a witch, regardless of how many missteps she may make along the way. I disagreed with the decision to leave it out, but I understand why some people may have had trouble with the idea of photo stills standing in for live-action footage the studio couldn’t find.

Other scenes simply improve the overall logic of the film. In the theatrical cut, Mrs. Hobday and the children hear the Home Guardsmen singing “The Old Home Guard,” but they are revealed to be much farther away. Sound cannot travel that far without a loudspeaker, therefore the cut makes no sense. The reconstruction reveals that what they heard was actually a fight outside the museum between Captain Greer and a Home Guardsmen.

I was extremely happy to see the studio restore these two films to their originally intended versions, especially Bedknobs, which I consider one of the studio’s best films (I call it "the best film Walt didn't live to make") and my personal favorite film. I will be thrilled to see the long versions in HD when they finally reach Blu-ray, but to revert to the short versions without also including the long ones would be an insult to their creators and to the people in the archive who fought to get the films restored to their respective original lengths in the first place. If any technical improvements to the reconstruction of Bedknobs can be made that couldn’t be done in 1996, especially regarding the jarring re-dubbing of David Tomlinson and other actors, the studio can and should do so in anticipation of the eventual Blu-ray. If what has existed since 1996 is still the best the studio can do, an explanation could be included to explain the technical issues to people who may not have seen the film and are unaware of its checkered editing history.

In addition, I am disturbed by the trend of extras from past DVDs not being made available on Blu-ray releases. If space is an issue, that’s one thing. But Pete’s Dragon, another film that has been back to the editing room more than once, had two DVDs with fairly substantial extras, many of which have been dropped on the current Blu-ray. I love the film and I’m glad the studio considered its 35th anniversary worth commemorating with a Blu-ray, but the disc could have been more than it was. Leaving in all existing extras would have helped. I would have included The Small One, as it was Don Bluth's last Disney project and because Sean Marshall was the voice of the boy. In addition, I have always wondered why several reputable sources, including Leonard Maltin’s Film Guide and several industry sources and reviews from the film’s debut, listed it as being 134 minutes originally when the film has not, to my knowledge, been seen publicly in any version longer than 128 minutes. Even as a child, I suspected something was wrong with the film’s editing–at the 40 minute mark, there’s a very bad edit after Lampie says “good boy, good lad”–because it bears a lot of the same editing issues I thought the theatrical cut of Bedknobs and Broomsticks had. It wasn’t until I bought the CD reissue of the soundtrack album that I heard what might have been among those alleged extra five minutes. “I Saw a Dragon” has two verses and a bridge that are nowhere in the film; the deleted passages include the men in the tavern actually going to take a look at the same place Lampie saw Elliott, thus giving him the benefit of the doubt. Also “Passamashloddy” has an extra chorus, and the CD has a reprise of “Candle on the Water,” which I can only guess would have come after “Bill of Sale,” but before the scene where Nora tells Pete she’s given up on the idea of Paul ever coming back. I later tracked down a copy of the LP version, and it doesn’t have that last reprise of “Candle,” just a pop version of the song.

When I watched the “Brazzle Dazzle Effects” extra on the Blu-ray, I noticed it used some of the film’s underscore in the background. I also noticed it used a longer version of the Aaron Copland-esque dance music from “There’s Room for Everyone.” From 00:18:53 to 00:19:26, you can hear several bars of music that are nowhere in the film.

Was this the bulk of the five extra minutes, and was there more dramatic material in addition to that? Considering the history of the post-Mary Poppins live-action musicals and the jarring nature of many of the edits, I’m inclined to believe the studio forced more cuts to this film. If this is the case, then I’d be thrilled to see those cut scenes someday.

Another film that saw several studio-mandated wholesale cuts was The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, which had two songs and several dramatic scenes totaling 46 minutes of cuts, just as The Happiest Millionaire did. I confirmed this by reading a contemporary interview with Richard M. Sherman in the book “Walt’s People, Volume 8”. 1981's The Watcher in the Woods had a completely different ending and was supposed to have been about 20 minutes longer. Anchor Bay tried to restore it when they had a licensing deal with the studio, but it never happened. I have heard about Something Wicked this Way Comes having cutting issues as well, but I haven't researched that film's history further; Brian Sibley's blog has some info about the production. According to an animation blogger who worked on the film, The Black Cauldron had about 10 minutes of finished animation removed. Reconstructions of the originally intended versions of are great ways to create interest in these films. They may not change any critics’ opinions, but they will be closer in spirit to what the people who made them wanted to achieve.

When Disney restored the song “If I Never Knew You” to Pocahontas and offered a seamless branching option on DVD to watch it with or without the song, I thought that was a great idea. Why is it only available as a supplement on the new Blu-ray when Beauty and the Beast still has the option to watch the film with or without “Human Again”?

All I ask for is consistency, and my other Disney-loving friends and family members feel the same way. Other studios have made multiple versions of films available on the same set, and there’s no reason Disney can’t do the same with films that have multiple versions, as you did a very good job handling all three versions of Beauty and the Beast. Warner Bros. recently released the musical Little Shop of Horrors in a two-disc set with both the theatrical cut and a newly created director’s cut with the original ending. Fox has done the same for the 1958 film of South Pacific, while Lionsgate had both versions of Apocalypse Now set. In the future, I would like to see multiple cuts made available for films that had multiple versions, and I would like to see as many of the legacy extras maintained as possible. The Exclusive Archive Laserdiscs from the 1990s raised the bar for the quality of extras, and this is the standard of quality Disney's Blu-ray extras should strive to meet or exceed. Many of the Touchstone titles had extended versions made for laserdisc that have been ignored, including Ransom, Pretty Woman and Dead Poets' Society. I see no reason their respective Blu-rays could not have included both versions.

And as for the Song of the South question: I'm from the South, and I am white, and slavery is an embarrassing part of our past. It affected all of us negatively. But this movie is part of our heritage, too. I saw the film as a three-year-old in its last theatrical release in 1986 and I loved it. The first time I saw it as an adult, I still loved it. I think the film is in no way anti-black, and to keep it off the market is an insult to everyone who worked on it, black or white. Racial politics aside, the Uncle Remus stories were Walt's favorites, Joel Chandler Harris supported Reconstruction, the animated characters are all over Disney theme parks, and it's conceivable that Mary Poppins would not have been possible without it. The film is about a well-to-do white boy named Johnny who feels alienated by his own peers and can only find friends among freed blacks (including a boy named Toby) and a lower-class white girl named Ginny. In my opinion, the only way to clear up misconceptions about the film is to make it available to anyone who wants to see it. As a gay man, the scene in which Ginny's older brothers, Joe and Jake, teased him for wearing a lace shirt collar really hit close to home even though Johnny wasn't gay. Any potentially negative imagery can easily be countered with positive imagery in the studio's other films. I'll also put in a good word for its sister film, So Dear to My Heart, as well.


While I would prefer to see some of the more obscure older films get released on commercially released Blu-rays, I would like to see the Disney Generations MOD program continue. However, I hope the studio will provide new masters for the titles that come out this way. I own the MOD discs of Amy and Child of Glass and reviewed both of them for HTF. They are painful to watch on a large screen because of the video noise and dot crawl. Even on small CRT TVs, you can tell these are older masters. Anything worth releasing is worth releasing in the highest quality possible. Now that Warner Archives is pressing Blu-rays, Disney should do it, too.

Walt Disney held his studio to high standards of quality, and I will continue to support the studio’s Blu-rays whenever they meet or exceed those standards.


Sincerely,
Matthew Anscher
 


  • FoxyMulder likes this

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#2 of 92 ONLINE   bujaki

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Posted February 25 2013 - 09:29 AM

Matthew, Well expressed, cogent arguments. Hope the studio reads and reacts. Thanks.

#3 of 92 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted February 25 2013 - 09:34 AM

I support this.



#4 of 92 ONLINE   MatthewA

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Posted February 25 2013 - 09:35 AM

Originally Posted by bujaki 

Matthew,
Well expressed, cogent arguments. Hope the studio reads and reacts.
Thanks.


Thanks.


The arguments over color in Song of the South need to be about whether or not the animation looks right. Posted Image


As for the cuts to the post-Walt musicals, Richard Holliss and Brian Sibley's book "The Disney Studio Story" was one of the first to bring them up. It's out of print now, but it's a useful reference for all the Disney features and shorts up to 1987, even including TV material that was released theatrically in the UK.


Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#5 of 92 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted February 25 2013 - 10:09 AM

It annoys me that the best parts of Song of The South, the animation, are left mouldering in Disney's dungeon, because some people can't seem to accept that some of what is shown, is part of history and are, therefore, offended. Being offended is not an excuse for censorship. I find torture porn films to be offensive and sick, but I wouldn't advocate that they be suppressed. The other thing annoying about the SoS thing is that the lead is played by a black actor which would have been relatively rare at the time of the film's making. I think it is insulting to the actor who starred in the film that somehow the work he did is not worthy of being viewed, due to the sensitivities of thin-skinned individuals. Hiding an old film in a vault is not going to make racism go away and putting it out for sale isn't going to make the racism problem any worse. People get their racist views from the environment they are brought up in, not from an old fantasy film. People really overestimate the power of film to affect change. If film had any real power to change anything, the recruiting levels at military recruiting centers should have dropped to zero after films like "Apocalypse Now" and "Saving Private Ryan" came out. The whole thing reminds me of the ridiculous Human Rights complaint filed against Earl's restaurant by an albino, here in Canada, because they had a beer named Albino Rhino; a name the beer has had for the last 25 years.
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#6 of 92 OFFLINE   Mark Collins

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Posted February 25 2013 - 10:36 AM

I hope Disney reads it and responds. I just do not understand how they can release Song of the South in the UK and Europe and not here. I know the release happened years ago on the VHS I own but the DVD was only less than 10 years when I purchased it at the Paris Disneyland store. Disney feels that we in the USA are not adult enough and because slavery happened here to accept the movie which is nonsense/

#7 of 92 OFFLINE   Erik_H

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Posted February 25 2013 - 10:49 AM

Very well written remarks; I also hope that the studio will read and respond. For whatever it's worth, some of the films mentioned above are available in HD on various platforms. For example, the long version of "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" and the roadshow version of "The Happiest Millionaire" (but without the overture and entracte) are available on VUDU in 1080i. The picture quality of "Bedknobs" at 1080i is disappointing (numerous blemishes, scratches, etc. made more glaring in HD), but "Millionaire" looked and sounded fairly impressive. BTW, I wonder how many viewers of last night's Oscar telecast were able to identify the music being played at the very beginning of the ceremony---that music was from the opening credits of "The Happiest Millionaire."

#8 of 92 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted February 25 2013 - 11:08 AM

Being offended is not an excuse for censorship. I find torture porn films to be offensive and sick, but I wouldn't advocate that they be suppressed.

That's the way I look at it too. I hate those blackface 'jokes' in Tom And Jerry but my disgust isn't grounds to bury them either.

#9 of 92 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted February 25 2013 - 12:11 PM

Originally Posted by Edwin-S 

It annoys me that the best parts of Song of The South, the animation, are left mouldering in Disney's dungeon, because some people can't seem to accept that some of what is shown, is part of history and are, therefore, offended. Being offended is not an excuse for censorship.

To some people it is.  As maybe, the only black person making comments in this thread as of now, I don't have a problem with the film being released on home video.  However, I do know some blacks that did object to the film including a few members of my family back in the day.  With that said, I don't hear much about this film from anybody outside of this forum and other internet boards.  I'm not sure how well entrenched it's in the mindset of many blacks today.







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#10 of 92 OFFLINE   Escapay

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Posted February 25 2013 - 12:15 PM

Excellent letter, Matt. I agree with pretty much everything you've written. I hope Disney is able to take the steps necessary to turn their Home Entertainment division around and actually offer all of these suggestions.

If the footage of the still-missing “Step in the Right Direction” can never be found, that will be a shame, but a seamless branching option to watch the photo reconstruction in the body of the film would be a step in the right direction.

From everything I've read, "Step in the Right Direction" has never been in any theatrically-released version of the film. I can't remember which book I read this from, but apparently the number was already dropped from the London premiere (October 1971) because orchestrations were not yet completed/recorded. The filmmakers did so with the understanding that the number would be inserted for the US theatrical release. Of course, that never came to pass since Radio City Music Hall insisted the film be trimmed to less than two hours so that they could feature it on a double-bill with their live Christmas show. So out went 22 minutes, plus the already-excluded "Step in the Right Direction." I still think it's ironic that the entire intent of the 1996 restoration was to restore that one number, and it turned out to be the only thing they couldn't find. A part of me hopes that it is sitting in a vault somewhere with the missing audio reels for the 22 minutes of restored footage. If I have to hear not!Charlie say "mango wuzzle" with that fake accent once more...

In addition, I am disturbed by the trend of extras from past DVDs not being made available on Blu-ray releases.

I definitely agree here. It was already a problem with LD extras not being ported over to DVD (the original making-of documentaries for Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King; the majority of supplements from The Hunchback of Notre Dame; the *complete* making-of for The Nightmare Before Christmas), and now we have to deal with DVD extras not making the jump to Blu-Ray. While I love having 4 different versions of Beauty and the Beast on home media (VHS, LD, DVD, Blu-Ray), I would much rather have had everything gathered together into one, definitive, be-all end-all release that would satisfy me until the next one.

Another film that saw several studio-mandated wholesale cuts was The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, which had two songs and several dramatic scenes totaling 46 minutes of cuts, just as The Happiest Millionaire did. I confirmed this by reading a contemporary interview with Richard M. Sherman in the book “Walt’s People, Volume 8”.

Wow, I had no idea about this one. I knew there was a six-minute discrepancy between the theatrical release and home video (pressbooks give a running time of 116 minutes, while the DVD is only 110), but had no idea that such a large amount of scenes were removed. A part of me always suspected material was cut, especially between "Drummin', Drummin', Drummin'" and the Joe/Alice/Grandpa scene that followed. The jump cut from the schoolhouse to the aftermath seemed too rushed.

1981's The Watcher in the Woods had a completely different ending and was supposed to have been about 20 minutes longer. Anchor Bay tried to restore it when they had a licensing deal with the studio, but it never happened.

I've always been baffled by that story. The disc's producer, Scott Michael Bosco, wrote about it on his now-defunct web site Digital Cinema, which is only available via the Wayback Machine: Digital Cinema: Watcher in the Woods

I have heard about Something Wicked this Way Comes having cutting issues as well, but I haven't researched that film's history further; Brian Sibley's blog has some info about the production.

I'm most interested in the deleted score by Georges Delerue, which was prepared for the first edit of the film. Apparently, they didn't think the film was scary enough, so they called the actors back to do some re-shoots (including the Spider sequence, which is why Will & Jim are noticeably older), and got James Horner to do a new score.

When Disney restored the song “If I Never Knew You” to Pocahontas and offered a seamless branching option on DVD to watch it with or without the song, I thought that was a great idea. Why is it only available as a supplement on the new Blu-ray when Beauty and the Beast still has the option to watch the film with or without “Human Again”?

I'm still scratching my head on that. When I asked Mike Gabriel about it on Facebook, he had no idea they left it off, and even he agrees that the film works better with the number intact. Eric Goldberg also says the same thing in his introduction on the Blu-Ray, which makes its second-class status as a supplement all the more frustrating.

I'll also put in a good word for its sister film, So Dear to My Heart, as well.

I would love to see this come to Blu-Ray. Especially if it came with a Bobby Driscoll retrospective (since they missed that boat on Peter Pan, and Treasure Island is unlikely to get any love either), a featurette about the history for the model of Granny Kincaid's Cabin (which is at Walt Disney: One Man's Dream in Disney's Hollywood Studios), and the 25-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that was excluded from the US Disney Movie Club release but included on international DVDs.

Now that Warner Archives is pressing Blu-rays, Disney should do it, too.

I would love for this to happen.

#11 of 92 OFFLINE   Ejanss

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Posted February 25 2013 - 01:25 PM

[As a gay man, the scene in which Ginny's older brothers, Joe and Jake, teased him for wearing a lace shirt collar really hit close to home even though Johnny wasn't gay. Any potentially negative imagery can easily be countered with positive imagery in the studio's other films. I'll also put in a good word for its sister film, So Dear to My Heart, as well.

(Umm, yeah....When it got to six paragraphs, why did I see this coming? :rolleyes: ) I've had experience myself petitioning Disney back in the day (c'mon, any old Anime warriors remember the big surprise we gave them with Ghibli and Princess Mononoke?), and one thing us tech-oriented home theater fans, and especially straight tech-oriented home theater fans know, is that you can't talk your way out of a problem. Sometimes Legal has something to say, sometimes the Holy Grail footage just does not exist anymore, not every cut is made just to be Mean, and they won't restore it if you simply hand out daisies and ask them to be Nice. A few briefings we were told back then were: 1) They get tons of this stuff a day, by e-mail. If you e-mail, consider it lost. 2) YOU don't say what gets petitioned, THEY say what gets petitioned toward the board (take, for exam ple, Fox's voting), and then only under controlled conditions to a certain question. You can't go in and say "Say, can we have a restored Pecos Bill, a Roger Rabbit sequel, AND a four-disk of Song of the South?", or else they might get the impression, right or wrongly, that you didn't really have a single focused complaint/issue when you walked in. 3) They don't know you--They ONLY care whether you will buy what they take the time to produce. They very specifically took the time to mention that responders mention that in the letter during the Ghibli campaign. (Which, I should mention was on write-in letter, as they wanted to prove sales numbers on hard paper, and boy, did they get it.) Putting a "face" on your letter and letting them know your heartfelt personal soul-connection to the movies will...not really get you anywhere. I should add that they've been hearing this for twenty years, and from the tone of the letter, you, likely, have not. We've heard all of Iger's jokes about pro-Song fanboys, and have looked elsewhere for alternative negotiations. There's not really anyone's head you can go to over the CEO's, but hey, he's retiring in two years. Moving onto the MOD question--sure, why not, let's throw that into the shopping list too!--my own experience with MOD titles is that not all of them are Archived simply because they're obscure. Some may simply not exist as film master prints, and only exist as videotaped Broadcast prints, which can't be significantly remastered in the lab. Child of Glass, a cable TV-movie from the 80's, would likely fall under this category, but sorry you didn't think it looked nice. So yes. You had to do this once. Every Disney fan does at some point. But afterwards, comes that mature realization that licensing, mastering, catalog upkeep, etc., is a very complicated job done by people paid to do this stuff. The chief function of a letter to a studio should be to conduct business, and made direct and to the point. You may not agree, but these are busy hardworking people, and all they ask of their friendly customers, is please, in the name of decent humanity before lunch break, don't ramble and show off all the trivia you know. If you had read all this on the phone, you can guess how long the call would be. And that's assuming the complaints were addressed to any ONE name we all knew for a fact was responsible in the production of those titles, rather than some all-encompassing department. They don't get passed along the hallways from one to the other like paper airplanes.

1981's The Watcher in the Woods had a completely different ending and was supposed to have been about 20 minutes longer. Anchor Bay tried to restore it when they had a licensing deal with the studio, but it never happened.

(Just off the subject, I remember seeing those endings as bonus features on disk at some point, and thought it was AB-- Saw the Brundlefly ending, the Tron ending, and the "Huh?" theatrical ending, and finally made sense out of the darn thing I'd seen twenty-five years before, but was that AB or Disney?)

#12 of 92 ONLINE   MatthewA

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Posted February 26 2013 - 05:42 AM

(Umm, yeah....When it got to six paragraphs, why did I see this coming? :rolleyes: )

For what it's worth, my two younger sisters were the jocks in my family, and they aren't gay. Go figure. As for your constant reminders of your heterosexuality: no comment.

I've had experience myself petitioning Disney back in the day (c'mon, any old Anime warriors remember the big surprise we gave them with Ghibli and Princess Mononoke?), and one thing us tech-oriented home theater fans, and especially straight tech-oriented home theater fans know, is that you can't talk your way out of a problem. Sometimes Legal has something to say, sometimes the Holy Grail footage just does not exist anymore, not every cut is made just to be Mean, and they won't restore it if you simply hand out daisies and ask them to be Nice.

These cut scenes may not be found. But if they don't look, we may never know. Fox looked for the Cleopatra cut scenes and came up empty, but at least they looked. But if they do exist and the people who actually made the films wanted them in, it shouldn't cost more than a million or two each. But I could be wrong about that, too. But each reconstruction (and these are just a few films from the Miller and Eisner eras) would still be a drop in the bucket compared to John Carter or The Lone Ranger. But I'm tired of making excuses for substandard work from a company that can and should do better. I'm not asking for every film the studio ever made, no matter how marginal, to get Criterion-style special editions. Even I have my limits.

A few briefings we were told back then were: 1) They get tons of this stuff a day, by e-mail. If you e-mail, consider it lost. 2) YOU don't say what gets petitioned, THEY say what gets petitioned toward the board (take, for exam ple, Fox's voting), and then only under controlled conditions to a certain question. You can't go in and say "Say, can we have a restored Pecos Bill, a Roger Rabbit sequel, AND a four-disk of Song of the South?", or else they might get the impression, right or wrongly, that you didn't really have a single focused complaint/issue when you walked in. 3) They don't know you--They ONLY care whether you will buy what they take the time to produce. They very specifically took the time to mention that responders mention that in the letter during the Ghibli campaign. (Which, I should mention was on write-in letter, as they wanted to prove sales numbers on hard paper, and boy, did they get it.) Putting a "face" on your letter and letting them know your heartfelt personal soul-connection to the movies will...not really get you anywhere. I should add that they've been hearing this for twenty years, and from the tone of the letter, you, likely, have not. We've heard all of Iger's jokes about pro-Song fanboys, and have looked elsewhere for alternative negotiations. There's not really anyone's head you can go to over the CEO's, but hey, he's retiring in two years.

Who still uses the word "fanboy" in 2013? I followed the company for years from the sidelines and by reading the books about Walt, the movies, and the execs, and following them in the news as it happened. I have even owned Disney stock. I have never worked for them, but I have talked to some people in the know. I also know, as most people to whom this is relevant do, that Iger is only CEO today because Roy E. Disney launched his Internet campaign to get Eisner out. Considering Roy E. brought him in in the first place, and how Mike acted without Wells and Katzenberg around (I can only imagine what Ron Miller thought of it all). He appealed to actual Disney fans for support in his campaign. And so far, it has worked. Iger isn't Eisner, and he seems a bit more reasonable. But he doesn't run this company as an autocrat and Roy didn't get rid of the board of directors like they wanted.

Moving onto the MOD question--sure, why not, let's throw that into the shopping list too!--my own experience with MOD titles is that not all of them are Archived simply because they're obscure. Some may simply not exist as film master prints, and only exist as videotaped Broadcast prints, which can't be significantly remastered in the lab. Child of Glass, a cable TV-movie from the 80's, would likely fall under this category, but sorry you didn't think it looked nice.

I didn't realize 1978 was part of the 80s. I addressed that film's archival issues in my review. But are we expected to believe Disney wouldn't at least have made a dupe negative, CRI or interpositive they could scan or transfer easily if the negative is shot?

So yes. You had to do this once. Every Disney fan does at some point. But afterwards, comes that mature realization that licensing, mastering, catalog upkeep, etc., is a very complicated job done by people paid to do this stuff. The chief function of a letter to a studio should be to conduct business, and made direct and to the point. You may not agree, but these are busy hardworking people, and all they ask of their friendly customers, is please, in the name of decent humanity before lunch break, don't ramble and show off all the trivia you know. If you had read all this on the phone, you can guess how long the call would be. And that's assuming the complaints were addressed to any ONE name we all knew for a fact was responsible in the production of those titles, rather than some all-encompassing department. They don't get passed along the hallways from one to the other like paper airplanes.

I'm aware this is a business. I'm a capitalist at heart, but somehow I think the business of creating art is a bit different than that of making soap or toothpaste. I hope the people in charge of these executives understand the distinctions, but as the woman who played Nora No-Last-Name of Passamaquoddy once sang, "I've heard it all before." But I didn't hear absolutely everything, only that which is a matter of public record. I'm only telling people what I have heard and read in order to learn as much as I can and share it with them. Bottom line: HTF has a good working relationship with Disney. They even had a meet in Hollywood last year that I was unable to attend. They are doing well overall, but addressing these pressing issues with constructive criticism instead of stale sitcommy snark and hyperbolic threats. What was it Ms. Poppins said about the relationship between sugar and medicine? I could have mentioned the lossy audio tracks on Bambi and Babes in Toyland, but that should have gone without saying. I did talk to Disney's hotline to replace discs, and they have always been helpful. I think the rank-and-file know what they're doing, but they're not immune to the company's internal politics. They're just doing their jobs.

(Just off the subject, I remember seeing those endings as bonus features on disk at some point, and thought it was AB-- Saw the Brundlefly ending, the Tron ending, and the "Huh?" theatrical ending, and finally made sense out of the darn thing I'd seen twenty-five years before, but was that AB or Disney?)

I have never seen the film, so I can't help you with that one inasmuch as I can direct you to the articles in question. After the LA Times praised AB for releasing both cuts of Happiest Millionaire, Eisner saw red. It was AB who tried to get Watcher in the Woods restored. I'll post as many links as I can for the research once I get back home. BTW, what happened to that NY2LA fellow? He seemed to know a lot of stuff about the home video industry, especially where Disney was concerned, but then he lost his membership privileges.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#13 of 92 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted February 26 2013 - 06:20 AM

To some people it is.  As maybe, the only black person making comments in this thread as of now, I don't have a problem with the film being released on home video.  However, I do know some blacks that did object to the film including a few members of my family back in the day.  With that said, I don't hear much about this film from anybody outside of this forum and other internet boards.  I'm not sure how well entrenched it's in the mindset of many blacks today. Crawdaddy

Or anyone else. I'm sure its because disney has buried the movie and no one thinks about it. Out of sight, out of mind.
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#14 of 92 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted February 26 2013 - 06:56 AM

Disney is hardly the only studio squandering what they have. Granted SotS is a glaring omission from Disney's catalog, because we as a nation are hamstrung by a select few who "know better than the rest of us". I still have never seen SotS, and never really plan to. Why? Disney is not my cup of tea. I grew up in a family that has open gay, bi-racial(not just black/white) and "different sexual proclivity"(beyond gay-ness). Having been brought up "damn near orgy loving hippy"...I'm straight and white. Go figure. I am however non-monogamous. Essentially "what I like" and the "Disney catalog" are almost polar opposite. If I watch Cinderella...it is the leather and lace version(and yes...there is one). Give me Manga* and Anime* anytime over Disney. But the points remain the same. Censorship for the sake of the "select few" is ridiculous...and maybe one of the heirs to the Disney fortune can ascend the ranks...create a "Disney for adults" division for these lost classics in their proper form. *If you think Disney is bad in what "other countries" get, try Anime and Manga. Some "for the US market" edits of Manga classics is just laughable. I have LD and DVD copies of some movies that are "technically illegal" in the US. I bought them in Canada, Mexico and Europe. Examples of such: Swedish market version of Swedish Love Story. You can't even import it, by mail, into the US. There is no nudity(thankfully, cause I'd have problem with it if there were...but the 45 seconds cut from the "original Swede" release is just laughable. And for those who have seen the movie can probably guess where the cut is) L'Harem. The versions you find "mailable to the US" on Amazon and Ebay are a far cry from the one you can buy across the border from Buffalo.(Have family in Buffalo, go 2-3 times a year and hit the Canadian video stores)

#15 of 92 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted February 26 2013 - 07:02 AM

I'm not sure what one's sexual preferences/gender etc has to do with wanting Disney to release their product in a comprehensive way...



#16 of 92 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted February 26 2013 - 07:39 AM

Well, technically, it has a lot to do with it. What is the (Disney version) of Snow White about? What is Cinderella about? What about Jasmine. So on... Disney and the Easy Bake Oven have more in common than most people think. And when the Easy Bake Oven is more "gender equal" than "many Disney Movies"... It is time to get SotS out of the closet. Literally.

#17 of 92 OFFLINE   Ejanss

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Posted February 26 2013 - 07:53 AM

I'm not sure what one's sexual preferences/gender etc has to do with wanting Disney to release their product in a comprehensive way...

Well, apart from it reinforcing the negative (and inaccurate) stereotype that all adult male fans of Disney movies are happy, gushy inner-child gay people who go to Disney World every June... I was trying to point out that those who ARE, tend to fall back on their own subculture that we should conduct our affairs by Conquering Our Social Prejudices, Getting Along, Helping Our Fellow Man, Ending Bullying, and Making a Better World Through Caring for Customers...And that anyone who finds fault with this approach must clearly be doing so out of personally motivated attacks, like some hypocritical and self-deceiving Roy Cohn who wants to bring back Stonewall. :rolleyes: Cut the danged flowers and quit taking everything personally on the schoolyard, this's business. Disney is aware it releases its product to two audiences: Parents who buy their own favorite movies to babysit their kids, and home-theater mavens who want the Classics. It's those people they worry about the most, and it's the one argument they want to hear. If you tell them that Cinderella changed your life at seven, I'm sure they'd thank you for the compliment, but they know they would just as likely hear the exact same thing five minutes later from another fan about Robin Hood, and that doesn't necessarily guarantee THAT would be a big seller either. Everybody's got their own childhood story. They don't want to know that their fans are geek-trivia schooled about every missing scene from Pete's Dragon or Roger Rabbit, they want to know whether a cut corner, like an audio issue or the Virtual Vault, would be a significant enough complaint with both mainstream and expert audiences to significantly impact sales. I emphasize "both": They know their uber-fans can never be satisfied, and like Warner, know they can fall back on their happy mainstream Target-shopper moms, unless those have a legitimate complaint as well. Fans (and public video-fan sites) complained about a specific mis-framed issue on Pirates 1, and a specific audio issue on Pinocchio, and those issues were addressed. Nobody asked for a Christmas-stocking full of lost scenes, nobody tried to ascribe corporate motivations to why the disks went out with the issues, and if it turned that those issues couldn't be fixed for some technical reason or other, fans didn't go into denial and say "But they COULD'VE fixed it if they WANTED to!" Point is, Disney takes more of this guff than Warner or Universal ever have. We've gone from the anti-Eisner paranoia of the 90's/00's (where anything Disney did was clearly evil and greed-motivated) to the high expectations of the Lasseter 00's/10's (where disk releases are now looked forward to and anything less than the Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition in every title must be a new attack of "laziness"), and both old habits die hard. But again--It's BUSINESS. State it, address it, say something supportive about it if they do, and get out. That's all they ask of customers who take the time to reply. If it does come down to a, quote-fingers, "gay" issue, it's that they're really not interested in anything about a customer's personal life other than why he or she is a satisfied customer, and that, I'm sure, is similar to the issue that many gays have heard expressed from straights in other daily situations--Just get over yourself long enough to keep your mind on business for everybody.

#18 of 92 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted February 26 2013 - 08:00 AM

I'd argue that the guff Disney takes isn't about their handling of gender in fairy tales, but of pushing themselves as the guardians of all children, when the films play for all ages, not for kids.


If the films we enjoy dictate our gender politics, then I guess I have to be locked up. I enjoy Cinderella and Hostel with a side of New Wave Hookers. :P



#19 of 92 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted February 26 2013 - 08:12 AM

I'd argue that the guff Disney takes isn't about their handling of gender in fairy tales, but of pushing themselves as the guardians of all children, when the films play for all ages, not for kids. If the films we enjoy dictate our gender politics, then I guess I have to be locked up. I enjoy Cinderella and Hostel with a side of New Wave Hookers. :P

Me as well. I once dated a woman just because her name was Emmanuelle...and liked dress-up...moving on...This is a Disney thread after all...

#20 of 92 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted February 26 2013 - 09:30 AM

Originally Posted by Russell G 

I'd argue that the guff Disney takes isn't about their handling of gender in fairy tales, but of pushing themselves as the guardians of all children, when the films play for all ages, not for kids.


If the films we enjoy dictate our gender politics, then I guess I have to be locked up. I enjoy Cinderella and Hostel with a side of New Wave Hookers. :P

I just think Disney is protecting their business interests which includes their theme parks and such.


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