Applying simple economics to widescreen/director's "intent" debates

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Sam R. Aucoin, Jul 12, 2002.

  1. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    Over the past few years, I have noticed (and participated in) several threads that have dealt with pan&scan, movies edited for content, etc.
    The overwhelming majority has essentially stated that, at the very least, if a film is to be released to the public for renting or ownership, then the film should be released in the same format at was presented for the original theatrical release. This, obviously, includes the "pro-OAR" groups (such as this forum, and of which I include myself as a "member"), as well as those who are against tampering, of any kind, with a movie once it has been theatrically released.
    But I have also noticed a select group (which I believe I can safely call a "vocal minority") that even objects to DIRECTORS coming back and making changes to "original" versions of theatrical movies. The best known example is, of course, the initial Star Wars Trilogy. Others include E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner - obviously the list is finite, but it is substantial.
    After reading my post so far, many of you may be thinking, "Okay, I probably agree with what he is saying, as his statements are basically assertions of fact, and can probably be supported with empirical evidence. But what in the hell does all that have to do with this "economic" business he says in his title?"
    Well, this is what I mean [​IMG]
    If directors are as passionate about their movies at they generally claim, and they thoroughly detest the fact that their movies are later edited for whatever reason (be it pan&scan, removal or overdubbing of cursing to show films on television in prime time on non-cable channels, etc.), why don't they ALL get together (or at least a sizeable, very influential majority, including the likes of Lucas, Spielberg, Cameron, Scorsese, et al.) and tell the studios: "We have decided that we will no longer make any more movies unless you, the studios, agree to show/release all movies made by us in their original theatrical release format".
    Before you laugh, consider the following:
    1. I know (or know of) many, many people who are so passionate about their work that they would do this very thing when it came to THEIR "art". The venerable Mike Knapp is just one such example - he told me in one thread that he EXPECTED that none of his art would ever be modified, in any way, by any of his clients, EVEN AFTER THE ART WAS SOLD. Now, by citing Mike, I am NOT soliciting comments on his ethics or decision - I cite him ONLY as an example of the first sentence I made in this numbered paragraph.
    2. All of the directors I just mentioned are fabulously wealthy by, I think, any definition used by the average American. In other words, I seriously doubt that any of them needs to make any more movies for their livelihood.
    3. We, the general public, do EXACTLY what I proposed the directors SHOULD do (whether intentionally, or as Adam Smith said, with a collective "invisible hand"), except we do it on the buying end. Generally, we buy those things we like, and don't buy those things we don't like. If a sufficient number of people buy something, it succeeds and continues to be available; if not, it goes away (ala "New Coke"; although it is still available, it is so in very limited markets, and for all practical purposes, it is "gone").
    So, as "we" continue to go along bashing "Joe Sixpack" for "causing" the release of pan&scan/edited-for-content-movies, I think we also need to look at the makers (that is, directors) of the product as well.
    Wal-Mart cannot sell a movie that does not get released by a studio for public consumption. A studio cannot release a movie for public consumption until it has a movie to release. A movie cannot be made without a director. And finally, no one forces directors to make movies (unless they are contractually obligated to do so, and I think this would be a very small number).
    If Mike Knapp can feel as passionately as he does about his work to the point that he would attempt to buy back his work if he gets wind that it is about to be changed from his original design, why can't a Scorcese do essentially the same thing by saying, "I will make the film, but only if you agree to not distribute it in ANY format other than the format of its original theatrical presentation"?
    Just some thoughts . . .
     
  2. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  3. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  4. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    I know that Michael Bay, for all his drawbacks, is a staunch OAR advocate. You'll see this in all video releases of PEARL HARBOR, which the mouse would LOVE to release in squareMAR.

    I would love to see other directors do the same. I thought Speilberg did for a while, but he caved even with the company he OWNS!
     
  5. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  6. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    Didn't the last high-grossing Leonardo DiCaprio film run a bit on the long side? [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  7. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    From what I have read here, the directors sign a contract that gives them no say whatsoever on any video releases. It is all up to the studios.

    I do agree with you, though. It woud be nice if a director refused to sign a contract unless it stipulated that any/all video releases shall only be in their OAR, but to date I don't think that has happened.

    If I can dream, I'd love to have a movie get started that the public would really be clammoring to get released, only to have the director insist on OAR only, the studio turning him/her down and then the director goes public with it.

    I'm crossing my fingers.

    Glenn
     
  8. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  9. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    "If Scorcese makes such a demand, he simply won't get a budget."

    But Damin, my point exactly - who needs whom, more? Does Scorcese need the studio to make his movie more than the studio needs a director like Scorcese to make the movie?
     
  10. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  11. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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  12. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    Spielberg already runs his own studio, and even they don't do OAR-only releases. It's a dream that will never happen, due to both the directors and the studios. Both sides are simply much more realistic in their approach than what has been suggested here.
    DJ
     
  13. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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  14. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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  15. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  16. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  17. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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  18. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  19. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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  20. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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