These kids these days with their 2-disc DVD special editions and box sets of DVD TV shows. They don't remember sweating bullets watching player sales slowly slog through the six-figure bracket and reading Circuit City press releases with fear and loathing. They've never heard of Dick Sharp. To them, Divx is a harmless codec.
Which means -- job well done, everyone. Happy fifth. (And drink a toast to the fondly remembered DVD Resource while you're at it.)
Being a dead format collector, that was my cue to go to Circus City and pick up 15 DIVX discs for my collection. I got:
Tomorrow Never Dies (16x9 widescreen) Amistad (16x9 with making-of feature that says "May be viewed at any time without charge") Deep Impact- widescreen Armageddon- widescreen Who Framed Roger Rabbit- widescreen Star Trek: First Contact 48 Hrs. (an appropriate title I thought) The X-Files There's Something About Mary (the biggest-selling DIVX title I'm told) Enemy Of The State Patch Adams (one of the final releases, street date was after the announcement so it debuted at clearance price) Home Alone 3 (one of the first releases) Alien Resurrection Alice In Wonderland (remember the outcry that Di$ney allowed this to be released on DIVX but not DVD?) Dumbo
They're on my shelf dividing the watched DVDs from the unwatched ones. All of these show a message when played on a non-"enhanced" DVD player: "You have attempted to play a Divx disc on a DVD player without the Divx feature. The Divx Feature is required to play this disc. For more information on Divx please call 1-800-456-Divx." I've also got the Instore Demonstration Disc, but it too only gives you that message on a regular player. I'm hoping to find a Divx player cheap somewhere so I can try to play it. I have the free VHS tape that was sent out also. I know there were employee training tapes, I'd love to get copies of those too. I have a copy of a printed script for DIVX sales presentations which is incredible; it includes notes on what to do if "hecklers" show up and try to ruin the sale. I didn't mess with the salespeople too much, but it was fun to go there and listen in on them trying to sell it to other customers. I remember one old guy going in trying to get a DVD player and ended up just totally confused after getting the DIVX lecture, and priceless statements such as "DIVX is an enhanced DVD in every way" and claims that all the big titles would only be released on DIVX. Things got really interesting near the end, as Paramount suddenly stopped putting out titles (they had originally put out DIVX discs but no regular DVDs) and sales figures were never made public and while there were rumors of big retailers like Wal-Mart and Blockbuster carrying DIVX nothing ever happened. It was quite comforting to see that laserdisc actually outlasted DIVX by a few months!
Some people today don't appreciate what some of us went through back in those days....
- lack of titles - lack of studio support for dvd - DIVX - higher prices - less special features (when dvd artwork is listed as a special feature you know something is not right) - DIVX
Things were stressful for the early adopters. The day divx died was a very happy one for me.
BTW, I got my first player, a Toshiba 2006, in June 1997 and here in Canada, there was a real lack of new good titles for months and months. When I consider some of the titles I almost bought, or did buy, it scares me.
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were...
Interesting tidbit on that...several people thought I over-reacted when I posted that "Disney is the [email protected] of the home video industry" for releasing an animated feature exclusively to DIVX. That earned me a call from their (then) head of home video marketing, who wanted to point out that this was considered a 'B' title, and that DIVX was only getting this 'B' title for now.
This before any 'A' animated titles had even been announced for DVD. Grrr...
Thank goodness my blood pressure is under control now.
And thank goodness Disney ultimately embraced the DVD format, and has also released some incredible titles from their vault since the dark days of the Evil Electronics Store Empire.
You know, I heard somewhere that some DIVX titles sold less than twenty copies. Total. Nationwide. Studios like Paramount dropped support due to lackluster sales. Then "The Matrix" came out and showed that a movie could achieve gargantuan numbers at a reasonable price, drive hardware sales through the roof, and make DVD the hottest thing since...well, since the format had been unveiled two years earlier.
Today, you can buy some new-release DVD's for $10-$15 and decent catalog titles for $5-$10. Now granted, hindsight is always 20-20, but who'd have thought that you would be able to pick up movies in the $5.88 bin at Walmart with unrestricted viewing, when DIVX was trying to sell us on $4.50 for a 48-hour viewing period?
Doesn't it feel good to be vindicated? Everyone who fought this battle deserves a salute!