Columbia Tristar: Scope movies reframed on DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Gary Palmer, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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    A situation has developed over at Columbia Tristar which should be of concern to everyone with an interest in DVD and home theater in general. THE EIGHTEENTH ANGEL and ME WITHOUT YOU were released on DVD by Columbia during the last few weeks, both letterboxed at 1.85:1, and both featuring the following disclaimer on the packaging: "This disc is presented in a WIDESCREEN VERSION which preserves the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of approx. 1.85:1."

    While the disclaimer is correct in stating that the discs contain widescreen versions of the respective films, they DO NOT preserve the 'original aspect ratio'. In fact, both films were NOT composed for 1.85:1, but were photographed in anamorphic Panavision and screened theatrically at 2.35:1, which means that the DVD's are SIGNIFICANTLY CROPPED from their original aspect ratios. 'Widescreen Review's Mike Coate has confirmed that the DVD version of ME WITHOUT YOU actually OPENS at 2.35:1, then expands to 1.85:1 following the main titles! Mike also confirms the scope format of THE EIGHTEENTH ANGEL, which I had viewed on television prior to the film's release on disc, where I quickly noticed the photographic 'blemishes' which are common in anamorphic photography. I've been studying this subject for most of my adult life, so it's very easy for me to distinguish between the 'standard' 1.85:1 format, anamorphic scope, Techniscope and Super 35.

    Columbia Tristar has a deserved reputation for the pristine quality of its DVD's. They have consistently set the standard for absolute clarity and precision, and I applaud their efforts. However, their reputation was spoiled recently by the decision to release a handful of titles in full-screen format only. That was bad enough. But to do the same thing with scope movies (whether photographed anamorphically or in Super 35), and then to provide misleading information on the packaging of said movies, is unforgivable. And they've done it before: MUTE WITNESS was photographed in Super 35 and released theatrically at 2.35:1, though Columbia's laserdisc edition was reframed at 1.85:1 (apparently, against the director's wishes), and their packaging labelled the 'original aspect ratio' as 1.85:1. Their upcoming DVD version, however, appears to have reinstated the director's intended scope framing, which is good news.

    But these other DVD's are more troubling. I was prepared to overlook THE EIGHTEENTH ANGEL as an accident, perhaps the result of a defective master, supplied to Columbia via an outside agency. But to find the same thing happening again within the space of a few weeks seems to indicate a deliberate policy of reframing certain scope movies on DVD. Perhaps I'm wrong, and perhaps these were genuine mistakes? Perhaps Columbia isn't even aware of the error, though it's difficult to comprehend how a movie can OPEN at 2.35 and then expand to 1.85 without someone noticing it, somewhere along the line! Perhaps Columbia have adopted a policy of 'testing the waters', by reformatting low-profile scope movies to 1.85 with a view to widening the policy to A-titles in the not so distant future? Who knows? Whatever the case, however, the information provided with the discs themselves is clearly misleading. These movies have been altered from their original compositions, and there is no indication of that on the packaging.
     
  2. Benn

    Benn Stunt Coordinator

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    Who's help do we enlist to fight this type of "Bait and switch"

    It seems that many business are doing merchandising such as this. "Profit" seems to supplanted concepts such as "service" or "Quality".
     
  3. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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    I tried Columbia Tristar's website address and looked for a way to contact them directly, but there doesn't seem to be an address (not even e-mail) for consumer enquiries.

    I posted my original message here because I'm told the industry is aware of this particular board and pays some attention to what is being written. But no response so far!

    By the way, another example of Columbia's alteration of aspect ratio on DVD is SPACEHUNTER ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. There appears to be some confusion over this film's original ratio. I'm told the 3-D version played theatrically at 2.35:1, while the 'flat' version was exhibited at 1.85:1, which - if true - would make their 1.85 DVD technically correct. But given that the movie was supposed to be seen in 3-D, you'd think they would have given us an approximation of THAT particular format, even if they weren't prepared to give us the 3-D!!

    If ANYONE out there knows of an address (e-mail or snail mail) to which we can write on this issue, please let us know. Thankfully, there doesn't seem to be any other cropped DVD's on the horizon from this particular studio, though I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.
     
  4. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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  5. Eugene Esterly

    Eugene Esterly Supporting Actor

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    Well, here are 2 address for Columbia-Tristar:

    Columbia-Tristar Home Video

    3400 W Riverside Dr
    Burbank, CA 91505-4669


    Columbia Tristar Home Video

    10202 Washington Blvd
    Culver City, CA 90232-3119

    The phone number(s) for Columbia Tristar are at:
    http://www.switchboard.com/bin/cgidi...11&Search.y=17
     
  6. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Good. Now I can finally complain about the cut "Sanford and Son" episode.
     
  7. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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    Ted, I understand what you're saying about various 3-D processes which render a 2.35:1 image in exactly the manner you describe. But SPACEHUNTER was photographed in a two-camera system, not the over-under format, and this has led to (ongoing) confusion over the actual theatrical aspect ratio of this particular movie. All of the 1950's two-camera 3-D movies were released at 1.33:1 (with perhaps a couple at 1.85:1), and seeing as SPACEHUNTER used a similar format, I'm beginning to wonder if this actually *was* screened at 2.35 in 3-D...
     
  8. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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    By the way, Eugene, thanks for the contact info re: Columbia TriStar's home video division. And apologies for taking so long to respond to some of the comments here - I haven't looked at the Home Theater Forum for some weeks now, so I wasn't aware of any other follow-up messages to my initial post about scope movies being reframed on DVD.
     
  9. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    Gary, it doesn't matter how it was photographed, only how it was released to theaters. Could very well have been photographed two camera, but virtually no run-of-the-mill multiplex theater today is equipped for two projector 3D.

    Therefore, it would have been cropped to 2.40:1 for a 3D over/under single projector release.

    Ted
     
  10. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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  11. ChristopherBlig

    ChristopherBlig Stunt Coordinator

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    This is not a surprise...Murphy's Romance-1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1

    Great Muppet Caper (not their movie originally, which was Universal's) 1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1
     
  12. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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  13. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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  14. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    Gary, I remember running several other titles in the over/under 2.40:1 process back when I was a projectionist at the Flatirons theater in Boulder CO.

    Unfortunately they were pretty bad movies and I don't remember the titles. One scene I do remember is a still beating heart, on the end of spear, being thrust into the audience's face.

    Ted
     
  15. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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    "One scene I do remember is a still beating heart, on the end of spear, being thrust into the audience's face."

    Ted, that's the infamous/beloved FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN, in which Udo Kier turns his death-by-spear into a pretty unique 3-D spectacle. I have a copy of the movie on DVD-R in field sequential 3-D format, and this sequence is truly remarkable. Disgusting, but remarkable... [​IMG]
     

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