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A Conversation with Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Adam Gregorich, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. Andrew Bunk

    Andrew Bunk Screenwriter

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    Combos will without a doubt make me buy less and rent more. Stop with the combos, Universal.
     
  2. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer

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    I don't have a problem with the combos. I actually kind of like them as long as the price difference is not extreme. Total HD on the other hand is not something I like. It may be good for HD DVD, but it is not good for me. I would just assume by the version (Blu-ray or HD DVD) that I prefer.

    Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

    I want to know titles!
     
  3. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    I think we are jumping the pricing gun a little bit. I'll try to find out what Universal's pricing structure will be and during the Warner chat we will ask about pricing on Total HD. I'm not sure what the manufacturing cost differences are, and if they are higher than BR, hopefully that can be offset by the savings of just having one SKU greatly simplifying inventory and distribution.

    Not to get off topic, but from a shareholder perspective (I own AOL and GE) I think Warner will be the ultimate winner in the war. They initialy supported HD DVD, but quickly moved to support both to try to advert a "war". They have put out consistently reasonably priced good titles on both formats. The loser will be Sony. Even if their format eventually wins, they had to without help heavily subsidize the initial 1,000,000 player base.
     
  4. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    I'm with many people in this thread - combos and TotalHD releases will result in FAR FEWER software purchases by me if they cost more than single format releases. I don't care of they cost more to produce. That's not the point. Studios: $20 is the breaking point. This isn't rocket science. Combo discs and TotalHD aren't going to do you ANY good if they sit on the shelves gathering dust because of prohibitive cost. Stop messing around with the early adopters and price the software at reasonable levels. If you can't find a way to do that, well, then I'm afraid the whole thing will be over before it even really starts. Here's my recipe for high-def disc success:

    * Reference video and audio quality as the primary concern for ANY title. This is, after all, the ENTIRE point. No one is going to care about interactivity or extras if the presentation is barely distinguishable from SD DVD.
    * Reasonable software pricing.
    * Reasonable hardware pricing.
    * TITLES, TITLES, TITLES.

    It's so simple. So what's the problem?
     
  5. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

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    That doesn't make sense. If "their" format (and it really isn't just Sony's) wins, then it will have proven that subsidizing the players was the right decision, unless somehow the PS3 ends up contributing nothing to the success.
     
  6. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Cinematographer

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    Crawdaddy -
    "Right, the HD DVD group will be losing some of my business as I will buy the cheaper BR versions if available."
    "If Warner and Paramount mirrors their BRD with what's on the HD DVD and the BRD is cheaper then I'm buying that format."

    I don't understand your reasoning here. You say if the Blu Ray disc is cheaper than the TotalHD disc, then you will buy the Blu Ray instead? But if the studio puts out the particular title as a TotalHD disc, then that will mean there won't be a Blu Ray only version of that title for you to buy...

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you meant.
     
  7. Porter H

    Porter H Auditioning

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    Yes, you're misunderstanding. He'll buy the Total HD only when absolutley necessary, meaning no Blu-ray availible. However, when given the choice of more expensive HD DVD vs. cheaper Blu-ray, if the BD mirros the HD, then he'll buy BD.
     
  8. RobertCH

    RobertCH Stunt Coordinator

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    Guys, if you check the price on amazon for Universal's newest combo disk, and I think the only one that have released this year, Brokeback Mountain, you'll see that the price is $23.95. After the 10% discount, that comes out to $21.55 shipped, if you have amazon prime. This, along with Universal's stated plans to release their future disks as 90% combos shows that the price will be coming down on these types of disks this year. On the other hand there is no such sign for BD exclusive studios that their prices will be falling anytime soon. And besides, in all my local stores most non-Fox disks are priced at $29.99, as opposed to all non-combo HD-DVDs being priced at $24.99, so to me it is clear that price currently, and will continue to in the future, reside on the side of HD-DVD. Personally I think all this whining about combo disks is unfounded, especially considering that Superman Returns, a combo, a dreaded combo disk, has been consistently the best or second best selling HD-DVD since it was released.

    So obviously the buying public likes combos just fine, and since it appears that Universal will be bringing the price down, I think it's great that the vast majority of Universal's releases this year will be combo disks.
     
  9. Scott Kriefall

    Scott Kriefall Second Unit

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    I realize that it's a Warner title, but the upcoming HD-DVD combo release of The Departed is still $39.99. Hopefully Universal's upcoming combos -- and Warner's upcoming TotalHD discs -- will be priced more reasonably. I too dislike paying $5 to $10 more for an unwanted SD-DVD and BR layer.
     
  10. Darcy Hunter

    Darcy Hunter Stunt Coordinator

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    I couldn't agree more. I have been very pleased with Universal's releases over the past year, and if this partial list is any indication, they are continuing to release quality titles this year.

    A couple things bother me, and one of them are these damn combos they want to force on the consumer. I don't mind the idea of combos in theory: they allow more flexibility, and options for the consumer. however, it's the PRICE that kills me. A look at the pricing difference in Universal's titles shows what the added cost is.

    Casino and Dune at BB is $25.99. (I know you can get it cheaper online, but this is just an example.)

    An American Werewolf in London and The Grinch (Combo) at BB: $32.99.

    New releases are even more expensive with titles such as Miami Vice priced from $34.99 - $45.99!

    This is not good for the consumer, especially when you can see how much cheaper non-combo discs are, even from the SAME STUDIO.

    Also, while it'e nice that Universal is pushing the interactivity envelope with these next-gen releases, really it's all just bells and whistles designed to woo the average person. I can see them looking at an HD title and saying "better PQ and AQ? So what! What else you got? I can change the color of my car in a scene from the movie? SOLD!"

    Really, I doubt that many here have really bothered to play with these U control features much, and I actually find them distracting, like an annoying "pop-up video" version of the movie. If it's a movie I'm interested in, Like "Children of Men", I would rather just watch a nicely produced long-form documentary. I bought into HD for the PQ and AQ benefits, not to play interactive video games.

    Having said all that, I am still pleased they took the time to talk to Adam, and look forward to some solid dates.
     
  11. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Good stuff Adam and I appreciate your dilligence in this. I know it's not easy trying to get information and at the same time not being viewed as a pest. Thanks to your interview, Universal, is understanding some recent frustration from HD DVD owners. [​IMG]

    I like the combos and have already benefitted from their versatility. Both of my older brothers who haven't joined any HD format yet think the combo disc is the way to go. Alot of people I know at least travel alot and can use the sd dvd side to use in their SUVs etc...It is a bit more $$ but not that much and cheaper than buying 2 separate editions. We live in a very portable entertainment conscious society. the HD DVD Combo Format if marketed correctly could get more into HD.

    Again, thank you Adam for doing this. [​IMG]
     
  12. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Universal Spielberg films...


    http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12...iness/dream.php

    Dreamworks were set to sell to Universal when...

    "...Negotiations began with Universal more than a year ago, when Geffen sat down with one of his best friends, Ron Meyer, president of Universal Studios. A sale to Universal made sense for both sides, and Hollywood insiders as well as Wall Street observers fully expected a deal.

    Spielberg has longstanding personal ties to Universal, the studio that gave him his first break as a young director when he made such blockbuster hits as "Jaws," "E.T." and "Jurassic Park." His production company, Amblin, is based on the Universal studio lot, where he has a contract to remain through 2010.

    Indeed, Geffen said he and Spielberg favored making a deal with Universal. Geffen added, "Steven's instructions were: 'If it is possible to make a deal with Universal, make a deal."'

    In July, DreamWorks and Universal agreed to a period of exclusive negotiations, and a tentative deal was struck for Universal to acquire DreamWorks for $1.5 billion, with about $900 million of that sum going to pay DreamWorks' principal executives and investors - $125 million more than the deal that was ultimately struck.

    But the talks broke off two months later when Universal lowered its bid to $1.4 billion after the poor performance of some DreamWorks films, principally the big-budget summer thriller, "The Island," and the romantic comedy "Just Like Heaven." Geffen said the chairman of NBC Universal, Bob Wright, had made a handshake deal for the $1.5 billion, and then "reneged."

    Feelings were bruised, but at the time, Universal was the only bidder for DreamWorks. Paramount had started to negotiate, but when Grey and Tom Freston, the co-president of Viacom, brought the proposal to the Viacom board of directors, they were told the deal was too expensive and was poorly timed because Viacom was in the process of splitting into two companies, Viacom and CBS.

    Rather than abandoning the deal, Grey took a different message from that meeting. He felt the board favored the deal if he could overcome the obstacle of the price. When Grey learned that Universal had not closed its bid for DreamWorks by late November, he sounded out several private equity firms about the prospect of helping to finance the DreamWorks purchase. When he secured interest from a number of firms, he went back to Geffen to see if a deal were still possible.

    On Dec. 2, Geffen called Meyer and told him another bidder was in the game. During the next week, Meyer waited for a response from GE's chairman and chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt. None was forthcoming.

    On Thursday, Viacom's board met in New York and approved the purchase of DreamWorks. Grey and Freston flew through the night on a private jet to bring the contracts to the DreamWorks principals.

    All that remained was for Spielberg, the powerhouse director with longstanding affection for Universal, to get comfortable with the deal and his new patrons. That took place on Friday morning at his home.

    But before signing the contracts with Grey and Freston, Geffen called his friend Meyer. He would still make the deal with NBC Universal, he told Meyer, if General Electric would produce a check for $100 million as a good faith deposit on the purchase.

    It was not to be. "They said, 'We couldn't get a deal done today under any circumstances,"' Geffen recalled. "That was the end. We knew they couldn't get it done in a day. They couldn't get anything done in a day....."

    Spielberg probably isn't too happy with them right now
     
  13. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    Jesse-
    What I meant by that is that Sony needs to sell a TON of software to even begin to break even on their PS3 rollout. Disney and Fox are making money from day 1 on their software releases. It is estimated that Sony loses $306.85 on every 20 gig PS3 and $241.35 on every 60 gig model. With 1 mil in circulation that means that they have shelled out between 250 and 300 million dollars today. If they ship another million units over teh next few months that number doubles. Some analyists estimate that Sony will take a hit to the bottom line between 1 and 2 billion dollars! It takes a lot of software to make that up. Disney and Fox keep touting the number of PS3s so they are getting the same benefit Sony is without the cost. Sony may not "lose", but they sure won't be a winner to the extent that the other studios will.
     
  14. Adam Gregorich

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    I don't know if Universal has to have his consent to release the titles that were done under Amblin or not - I'm not sure who ownes them. Even if they had the legal authority to release them I know they would always prefer to work with the filmmaker. Keep in mind that although Spielberg may not like GE, he still may not mave a huge problem with Universal. That story doesn't say where the real roadblocks were. I suspect they were with GE not wanting to shell out that kind of money for another media company.
     
  15. Adam Gregorich

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    As a side note, or getting back on topic, whichever you prefer to call it.... I have requested pricing clarification from Universal on their combo discs. Are they going to lower, raise or keep them the same, etc. I am continuing to grovel for release info as well.
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Read my post again. I noted that once Total HD comes out, my buying pattern will change again because the price advantage that a BRD mirror with the same content as the HD DVD enjoyed, will no longer exist over the HD DVD combo disc. At that point, I'm back to reevaluating my purchases of the different format software.




    Crawdaddy
     
  17. Daniel_TS

    Daniel_TS Stunt Coordinator

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    Each HD DVD combo disc is a Trojan horse if it is at the same price than DVD.
     
  18. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    THAT I Totally agree with...

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Juan C

    Juan C Second Unit

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    Thanks for the interview and for including my questions, Adam.

    As to the outcome of the interview itself... well it is a bit anticlimactic to be honest. A hundred titles is good, and 40-50 titles in the first half is great (I feared they'd save everything till the last quarter). But considering they have only seven titles released or announced in the January-April timeframe, well, they better get cracking. [​IMG]

    WRT combos: bad idea. bad bad idea. I already got Lebowski. I already got Brazil (twice!). I already got the Hitchcocks. Sorry but no.
     
  20. Sean*O

    Sean*O Second Unit

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    I guess I took something different away from that read.

    It seems that Speilberg always wants to work with Universal if at all possible. He might dislike the bosses who own the company, but I doubt he would throw any roadblocks in the way of his friends’ success for that reason alone.

    If as the story goes he was willing to deal with Universal up until the very last minute, even with the Viacom buyers standing right in front of him, that should tell you something about his loyalty to Universal.

    I am sure he knows how it all works and that the studio's hands may have been tied by larger controlling entities.
     

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