A disturbing trend that needs to stop

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by streeter, Jul 30, 2002.

  1. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    I've been pretty annoyed by what I am about to discuss for a long time now, but this just has to be the last draw.

    I love audio commentaries. Often, I buy crappy movies just for the commentaries with stars.

    Today's DVD of COLLATERAL DAMAGE was first announced to have a commentary featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The disc does not have a commentary from him. Fine, the press release may have listed a commentary, and not following up to that is one thing.

    However, this week's ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, as well as this month's TOTAL MOVIE magazine, feature the same full-page ads for the COLLATERAL DAMAGE DVD. Both list under special features: Commentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    What was once just a nuissance for HTF members and other DVD fanatics has now moved into full-fledged false advertising.

    I ask the HTF members, what can we do about this? How can we get the studios to stop promising actor commentaries that don't materialize? I'm sure many of you will poo-poo this message and say 'who cares?' I think plenty of HTF members care. Commentaries are among the most valuable special features to cinephiles. If you don't care, please at least respect that there are plenty of us out there that do care.

    What follows is a list of promised audio commentaries that ended up not being on the respective DVD releases. In the case of Warner's THE SWARM, we at least got word shortly in advance of its release. But in either way, I think studios must stop announcing audio commentaries that they have merely 'planned' and have not actually been recorded.

    -COLLATERAL DAMAGE - no commentary from Arnold Schwarzenegger

    -END OF DAYS - no commentary from Arnold Schwarzenegger

    -"O" - no commentary from Julia Stiles

    -WILLOW - no commentary from Ron Howard

    -BLOOD SIMPLE - no commentary from the Coen brothers (although one of them recorded a mock commentary, the original release info promised a commentary from both of them)

    -ENIGMA - no commentary from director Michael Apted

    -THE SWARM - no commentary from Michael Caine


    HTF members unite! What can we do? Isn't what the studios are doing, like, illegal?

    Mike Streeter
     
  2. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    Clearly, these were planned and just not recorded for one reason or another. Heck, if I were Arnold, I wouldn't want to do the commentary for CD. (He's probably on location filming his next big hit [​IMG])
    Perhaps they could just put some stickers on the packaging that states that the planned commentary didn't make it onto the finished product.
     
  3. jacob w k

    jacob w k Stunt Coordinator

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    You could not buy those dvds but that is not a good solution. I think that like you said, the studios just have to make sure that they have recorded the commentary before they announce it or advertise it.
     
  4. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    yes Jacob, I definitely won't be buying THE SWARM, which I had initially planned to buy. Same goes for COLLATERAL DAMAGE. When the same thing happened to END OF DAYS, I ended up not buying that either. But some titles, like BLOOD SIMPLE and THE INSIDER, almost anyone would pick up regardless.
     
  5. Jeff Kohn

    Jeff Kohn Supporting Actor

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    I think it's one thing for the initial press release to contain some inaccuracies, but as Michael mentioned the fact that they're still advertising that Collateral Damage has a commentary sure seems like false advertising to me. And yes, I know there's a lead time for advertising. But there's also a lead time for DVD releases; it's not like they can manufacture and distribute them overnight, so they must have known for some time now that the commentary track wouldn't get released.
     
  6. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

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    i think the studios that carry out this practice are making trouble for themselves. they can p*ss us HTF'ers off with little result. we're a small number. we decide not to buy said items, it's no big loss. and most of us who like these films will buy without the extras anyway, because it's the film we want. extras are just the icing.
    but p*ss of JP (joe public) too many times (who put a great deal of emphasis on the extras) and they might have a problem on their hands. the trust between customer and supplier is lost. is that what the studios really want ? it's not a good way to do business. if even a small percentage of JP doesn't buy, the studios stand to loose a fair whack of cash.
    realistically i'm sure JP aren't that interested in commentaries, but many like the other extras (deleted scenes, docs). extras are the main selling point for JP. screw with that and you're asking for trouble.
    i admire your efforts to persuade the studios Michael, but i'm not sure how much influence we have. they're intent on shooting themselves in the foot. and if not with this issue, it'll be with something else. all we can do is stand by and watch [​IMG]
     
  7. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    While I agree in your main point that this issue of not including advertised features (or worse, what is on the box is incorrect) should be treated with more respect by the studios, I did have to offer a counterpoint to your above quoted passage.

    As a cinephile, I would say a commentary from Arnold Schwarzenegger would be of little or no value. I'm surprised he requested such a giant fee for a commentary in the first place, and I'm glad they decided to leave it off rather than creating a trend by bowing to his financial demands.

    I'd much rather see commentaries from the actual people who make these films and make them work. I see "talent" commentaries as marketing for the masses when most of the actors bring very little to the table in terms of quality commentary. Certainly there are exceptions- but the modern commentary has become little more than an anecdote festival, where original commentaries discussed the films in terms of technical approach, in terms of characterization and writing, in terms of design and mood.

    Anymore it seems there is a concerted effort to leave the true technical art of film making behind the scenes, and use the commentary to discuss how funny it was that one time the big star fell down or to identify each bit player by name and relation to the director...

    No thanks.

    -Vince
     
  8. rutger_s

    rutger_s Supporting Actor

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  9. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Well, if they can't get the commentary, they just can't get it.
    Press releases are always tentative. For example, the Charlie Chaplin Collection SE PR said that WB will be releasing 18 Chaplin films to DVD. There's only 17 in the collection. They can't exactly make a Chaplin film out of thin air, so what else is there to do? (I might be wrong, but the 18th film may be Unknown Chaplin, but I doubt it)
    Even if you were to take a studio to court, they still don't have the commentary. That being said, what's the point? Do they need psychics to foretell if Ahnold is going to ask for 10 million bucks to go "yeah...I know that guy" on a DVD? [​IMG]
     
  10. Doug_H

    Doug_H Supporting Actor

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    I gotta say the one that really pissed me off was A Beautiful Mind. The cover say's "A Beautiful Mind soundtrack" listed clearly under disc 2 features however when I start that feature it is an ad for the CD.

    My therapist say's I am getting better though
     
  11. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Michael,
    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think it's fine to announce "planned" commentaries, but the buyers deserve to know if said track has been canceled or omitted!
    It's like buying a dozen eggs, but only ten are in the carton. Aside from contacting the studios and voicing your (IMO, legit) displeasure, I can't imagine what a consumer could do about it.
    Clarify something for me: Do the cases for any of these DVDs list the 'missing' tracks? Cuz that seems even worse!
    One course of action is simply to return the DVD to the retailer, as if you'd purchased a TV that was missing the remote. "This product is not what was advertised, and I'd like a refund/exchange."
    Pedantic advice, to be sure, but I'm a pretty simple guy. [​IMG]
     
  12. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I also agree. The issue isn't the press release, it's the final release, and subsequent ads. It can't be that hard to get it right.
     
  13. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

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    I think the bigger issue here is lack of QC on the part of some of the major studios. DVD has become such a "cash cow" for these studios that they are acting like a kid in a candy store in the sense that they are rushing to get as much product on the market at once. They are not taking the time to guarantee that the correct product gets released. They make promises far in advance of what they can produce and just figure, 'Oh Well' when something doesnt happen the way they originally intended. I think that this annoying side affect will continue on for a while. I doubt theres anything we can do about it. Like someone above said, they are covering their butts by including the caption that things are subject to change.
     
  14. Jonathan Perregaux

    Jonathan Perregaux Screenwriter

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    I'm still pressing every single button on my DVD remote in every possible combination, hoping to unlock the secret Jamie Lee Curtis commentary track promised by the packaging for Halloween H20. It's on here somewhere...
     
  15. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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  16. BooneG

    BooneG Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll tell you guys this: I hate when a studio announces that something will be on a dvd and then it isn't. Three Thousand Miles to Graceland was supposed to have a commentary by the director, Kevin Costner, and Kurt Russell, and deleted scenes but the dvd that is in stores is barebones.

    My father works for a major magazine and he told me that they put together the magazine a while before it comes out. Maybe EW already had the spot for the Collateral Damage ad and they decided not to pull it. Maybe the same goes for WB. I mean, come on, the regular person is not going to look at the ad and say "well, no schwarzenegger commentary? I ain't gonna buy it." I know that it is sad but it also is true.
     
  17. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

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    Look at the features for Monster's Ball. On the back of dvd it reads: "Over one hour of behind the scenes footage" &

    "IFC's Anatomy of a Scene". Are these features hidden or something??? How can they list extra features on this dvd to entice someone to buy and not have the features on the dvd? Is there such a thing as truth in advertising?
     
  18. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the suggestions and feedback.

    Boone - you're right, 3000 MILES is another title that was originally going to have commentary. I don't remember it being by Costner and Russell, but I do remember an announcement that it was going to have commentary from the director.
    L.A. STORY, according to the cover, features a commentary, but the disc actually does not. THE INSIDER has interviews with the cast and crew incorrectly listed as 'commentary.'

    Vince, I disagree with you. For some films, cast commentaries may detract from the value that the commentary has. Indeed, some of them have become a collection of anecdotes about filming and give the listener little valuable information. But don't forget the types of movies that these cast commentaries are usually played over. Does anyone really care about the technical aspects of the filming of COLLATERAL DAMAGE? I feel the same way about TOTAL RECALL, and almost every DVD that has a cast commentary. They're there because they're fun to listen to, and that's all. How could you expect to learn about the filmmaking process from those kinds of popcorn movies? Do we really need to know anything more beyond the on-the-set stories about the making of CAN'T HARDLY WAIT??
    However, there are some movies that have cast commentaries in lieu of serious ones that they deserve... like Jerry Maguire, maybe... that DVD could have used a second track with just Crowe.
     
  19. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Blake Edwards and John Ritter were going to sit down for a commentary on SKIN DEEP.

    What galls me is that perhaps they did record it, but the studio decided to scrimp on the extras to keep production costs down, you know?

    So for all we know, there's a commentary track for the film but it just isn't on the disc.

    A follow up press release saying "John Ritter was busy acting and was not available for the commentary" would be appreciated. Or "We decided no one likes Blake Edwards' eighties movies, so we left off the commentary track, even though it was recorded."

    (I'm not trying to mock Ritter with that little jab -- he was frightening on Buffy and I thought he was perfect in Skin Deep).
     
  20. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    I bought a DVD of HALLOWEEN: TWENTY YEARS LATER that clearly stated the disc had a commentary track with Jamie Lee Curtis and the director. It didn't. I was lucky enough to be able to return the disc to Walmart.
     

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