Controversy: Is the DVD format bad for movies?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Paul_Sjordal, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. Paul_Sjordal

    Paul_Sjordal Supporting Actor

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    The accusation has been made that DVD has led to an increase in the number of mindless action movies coming out of Hollywood.

    The reasoning goes something like this:

    The studios now make a significant portion of their money on DVD sales. Since mindless action movies tend to sell better on DVD, more of the movies put out by Hollywood fall into that category.

    I suppose first we have to accept the assumption that a higher ratio of movies coming out of Hollywood now fall into the action movie category. I have no figures to support that, but if it's not true then we don't have much of a discussion, do we?

    I actually think this accusation is partially true, but it ignores other market forces that also promote mindless action movies. I think it's partly true because I myself have been watching a lot more mindless action movies ever since getting into DVD. After all, I want movies that really show off what the 5.1 surround can do. Before I got a DVD player, I did watch action movies but not anywhere near as often as I do now. In fact as a teenager, I held action movies with a certain amount of contempt.

    Of course, I don't think this is the whole reason action movies are more common these days. It seems to me that movie studios take in more and more money from the international market. I'm no expert, but I have to imagine that mindless action movies can surmount cultural barriers more easily than other film formats which can involve a lot of subtleties and culture-specific elements.

    Comedy for instance can be made "universal" enough that it seems funny to a large percentage of cultures, but there's always going to be cultures to which a given joke doesn't translate. Besides, broadening the cultural appeal of comedy often requires dumbing it down to mere physical slapstick (Jackie Chan, for example... I love the guy, but you can't deny his Buster Keaton influences).

    Dramas involve even more culture-specific nuances that might fail to impress across cultural divides. But action movies? Hey, nearly everyone understands violence, and more importantly understands it in the same way.

    Don't get me wrong, I like the occasional mindless action movie as much as the next guy, but the more I think about it, the more I would rather they made up a smaller percentage of Hollywood's output. There's a lot to be said for a well-made medium budget (or even low budget) movie.
     
  2. Steve_Tk

    Steve_Tk Cinematographer

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    It could always be argued that no one is forcing anyone to actually buy a "bad" movie on DVD.
     
  3. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    Admit it- how many movies did you buy just because of the hype regarding the sound/picture. It is a tempting theory...

    But... DVD did not enter the scene until 1998. Hollywood was well on its way down the slope of awful, mindless action movies by then. (Several of which are in my DVD collection) :b
     
  4. Paul_Sjordal

    Paul_Sjordal Supporting Actor

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  5. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Probably true, but I think it will take a few more years to see if this plays out.

    Would you consider this the same as MTV killing rock & roll?

    Glenn
     
  6. David Baranyi

    David Baranyi Stunt Coordinator

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    Did music videos kill the radio star according to a 1979 rock song?
     
  7. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    Hollywood started dumbing-down its output long before Magnetic Video sold the first pre-recorded video cassette.
     
  8. Steve_Tk

    Steve_Tk Cinematographer

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  9. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    I dunno. DVD has done a lot of outstanding things for film.
    • Why re-master Lawrence of Arabia if it's only going to be seen on VHS?
    • Would six hours of film for each episode of Lord of the Rings have been shot if PJ hadn't planned on the finest DVD set yet presented?
    • Kubrick stayed away from widescreen because of VHS. How many other directors would do the same thing if VHS was still the only format around?
    • DVD has brought us remasters of classic films that would have lain forgotten in cans until they turned to dust.
    • Millions of people are discovering classic films like never before. Would the release of Sunrise have created such a stir if it had been released on VHS?
    • Now kids can watch The Lion King ad infinitum without parents having to buy a new copy every six months.
    • DVD has allowed producers and directors to include far, far, more content than VHS would ever allow. The hearing imparied can now have English subtitles in nearly every release. People who speak Spanish or French in North America can now have subtitles and not settle for awful dubbing.
    • The sound quality of DVD era film has risen markedly. Knowing that a film must now impress in the home theater means a DVD has a shot at being a major source of revenue for studios.
    • The general public are seeing and buying more films than ever before. I have a film collection spanning over 100 years of cinema I could only have dreamed of before DVD. I have rare titles that NEVER would have been released had it not been for DVD and the art of digital restoration.

    DVD is a godsend for film of all genres and time periods. The VHS library hasn't begun to approach the breadth of DVD and certainly not the quality. Are there crappy films? Hell yes! There have always been bad films. I know. I've seen plenty of them, from the 1890s straight through to this month. DVD, and eventually HD-DVD, and eventually holomovies will bring cinema to us in ways we can only imagine and plenty we can't. VHS was a decent start but its bulk, limited life-span, dreadful resolution, lack of bandwidth, and linear format clearly made it inappropriate as an archival data format.

    Resist the temptation to imagine the grass has always been greener.
     
  10. Aaron Garman

    Aaron Garman Second Unit

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  11. Al Shing

    Al Shing Stunt Coordinator

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    Let's face it - when you get to be a certain age, you stop going to movies regularly. Perhaps it is because the average age of the regular movie goers makes you feel old. We all have our strategies for crowd avoidance, but we likely can't go to movies as often as we want.

    But it is really easy to pick up one or two movies a week on DVD. These are movies that you may have skipped in the theater, but intended to see on the HT. More and more movies are falling into this category, it seems.

    This summer's crop of movies tended to fall off at the box office within one or two weeks of release. The short attention span of the movie going audience has led to a lot of movies that have fallen through the cracks. These movies will get a second life through DVD sales.

    So, I think that DVDs are good for movies because it expands the audience for a movie. It won't help theater chains, but studios will benefit greatly from a DVD release. Even Gigli may sell a fair number of DVDs because it'll be heavily discounted, and the commentary track of Benifer and the director MST3K-ing their movie should be hilarious.
     
  12. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    With many DVDs being heavily discounted nowadays, it seems Hollywood is putting out the effects-laden crap out more frequently, because who would spend $15 to watch a mere talkie movie, when it can be had in the bargain bin a few months later for $10? Fad movies like American Wedding excepted, of course.

    If you're going to spend $15 to visit a movie theater, you'd want your money's worth in eye-and-ear candy - or so it seems to me.
     
  13. Drew Mertz

    Drew Mertz Stunt Coordinator

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    good movie or bad movie on dvd...Atleast making the movies is giving alot of people jobs. Looking at it that way, who can complain.
     
  14. Benjamin.D

    Benjamin.D Stunt Coordinator

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    Another advantage of DVD is OAR increasing in availability.


    Ben
     
  15. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I guess nobody as every one is a winner this way

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

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    "The general public are seeing and buying more films than ever before. I have a film collection spanning over 100 years of cinema I could only have dreamed of before DVD. I have rare titles that NEVER would have been released had it not been for DVD and the art of digital restoration."

    Yes but not "the general public" or the main in the street who is more likely to buy the latest silly blockbuster than a fifty year old rare classic.I also have a wide-ranging collection covering over 100 years of film history and generally I would say DVD has been great for fans of classic films.

    Does it discourage going to see brand new films ? Probably yes when you can enjoy such high quality (not comparable to real film right enough but close)at home. I certainly hardly ever go to the cinema anymore but DVD is only one reason for that as people have said Hollywood went downhill long before it came along. My interest in film generally has been increased by DVD as I rediscover films I saw on TV or video years ago.

    In 2003 the outlook for fans of classic films on DVD has never looked brighter but back in 1998 it was a different story. It has really taken five years for many of the gaps in the repertoire of classics to be filled and there are still a few important missing titles.

    Restoration for DVD has been great for classic films and you're right many rare films (particularly silents) have become available but many more await that costly and at times it appears lengthy process. My only fear for the future is that accelerating technology might deprive us of some great classics before they have even made their first appearance on DVD as we embark on HD-DVD or whatever and begin our trek through movie history once again (that's if we want to reinvest I suppose ?!).
     
  17. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    It's bad for movies in the same way the printing press was for books.
     
  18. Britton

    Britton Supporting Actor

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    I can't say if it's bad for movies, but it's bad for my wallet.
     
  19. John Kilduff

    John Kilduff Screenwriter

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    Nope...Artisan and often-times MGM are bad for movies.

    The format itself is just fine by me.

    Sincerely,

    John Kilduff...

    Only my opinion...
     
  20. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Ok, but if I look in my crystal ball at the future I see attendance at theaters dropping, and more direct to video releases.

    If you were to pick your favorite actor, and you went into a store a saw a new movie that you had never heard of with he/she in it, would you be more inclined to buy it blindly?

    What would happen if they found ten more Bond novels hidden in a wall? Would you blindly buy the movies when they came out?

    I don't go to theaters anymore - there are just too many distractions. As I am doing for the Matrix Trilogy, I will be seeing 2 & 3 right after 1, in my own home. I can easily see this escalating to a poing where they just release them straight to disk.

    Another idea would be to go and see a movie first run, and on the way out you could buy the DVD at the MSRP, less what you paid for admission, but the DVD would not be available to anyone else for 4-6 months. I know this might stop people seeing a movie twice, but if it is good, your friends will go and see it too.

    Glenn
     

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