I have bought my LAST Sony/Columbia DVD!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jesse Skeen, Jan 25, 2005.

  1. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    (NOTE: I debated whether to post this in Studio Feedback but it seems like it would get more readers here. If the moderators think I placed it in the wrong area, please move it with my apologies.)

    I'm absolutely furious- as many have noticed Sony has been quietly re-issuing several of its DVD titles with ONLY the pan and scan versions, when they formerly included BOTH formats. Sure the list price has been dropped as well, but that's certainly no excuse as other labels have dropped prices on their older titles to the same level and kept both versions on the discs that included them, and if they HAD to drop one version why drop the CORRECT one???
    I went by Best Buy after work tonight and thought I'd lucked out, looking at the back cover of "The Bear" and seeing it indicate both the widescreen and "full screen" presentations, then closer to the bottom stating "Side A is a WIDESCREEN VERSION and is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio, approx. 2.35:1. Side B is a FULL SCREEN VERSION and is re-formatted to fit your TV screen." There are other copies of this movie out there that indicate the disc only contains the "full screen" version.
    Well, the disc inside turned out to be their new "improved" release with only the Foolscreen transfer, so I fired off this email to the address on the sonypictures.com website it directs you to if you have any comments or problems with their video products.

    -----------------------------------------------
    To Whom It May Concern:

    I purchased the Sony Pictures DVD "The Bear" today at a Best Buy store. The back cover indicated that it included both an anamorphic widescreen presentation in addition to a "Full Screen" (pan and scan) presentation. Upon opening it, the disc had only one playable side, not two as indicated on the cover, and when I attempted to play it, I got the "Formatted to fit your screen" message and the only version of the movie was the 4x3 pan and scan version. "The Bear" was shot in 2.35, so it looks awful in pan & scan, plus I am planning on buying a widescreen TV soon that will take advantage of the added resolution of anamorphic DVDs. I have heard that Sony has actually been dropping the widescreen versions from some of their DVDs (which makes NO sense whatsoever) so I have been trying to buy the remaining titles that I want from your company while they are still available. Apparently however there are some DVDs making it into stores missing the widescreen versions, but the covers have not been changed to reflect this.
    This is COMPLETELY unacceptable. I have bought literally hundreds of DVDs since 1998, and laserdiscs in the years before, and this is the first time I will have to return a title. Hopefully Best Buy will allow me to exchange this for another title, but if they do not I will be sending it back to your company. Since your company has taken such a large step backwards, I will from now on avoid any more DVDs from Columbia or Sony Pictures, and when I do upgrade my TV I will not purchase a Sony model (apparently Sony feels that 4x3 pan and scan presentations of movies are acceptable, so they must not want to sell any widescreen TVs.) This is a huge shame as I was mostly pleased with Columbia's laserdisc product, and the quality of their DVD product in the first years of the format was a large factor in convincing me to switch to that format. I can only wonder what has happened to your company since then.

    Sincerely,

    Jesse Skeen
    ---------------------------------------------

    Keep in mind that I've kept EVERY DVD I've bought up to this point, even some awful-quality bargain label stuff and one title from Passport Video (the only other company on my "Never Again" list) that has a continuous "bug" on the screen- something I despise even MORE than pan & scan transfers! I've thought about just keeping this one and not buying anything else from Sony Pictures, but this practice of downgrading titles is just plain insane and whoever has made this bone-headed decision must be told that this is simply unacceptable. If Best Buy takes it back hopefully someone back at Sony will have to eat the cost of it, and if they won't it will go directly to the address on the back cover with another nasty letter. I don't even care about getting the money back.
    As to why I'm now going to avoid buying any more Sony titles, if they are going to drop the widescreen transfer from "The Bear" but sell copies in the cover claiming to include both, how am I to know that they won't do the same to any of their other titles??? For all I know I could buy a Superbit disc and they could have decided at the last minute to re-do it as a low-bitrate pan and scan title! If I had more time on my hands I would file a "frivolous lawsuit" just to get my point across.
     
  2. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    Can't wait for all those Blu-ray discs to arrive with 2.35:1 OAR movies cropped to 1.78:1. [​IMG]

    I feel your pain. Sony/CTS is absolutely insane these days. I buy very few DVD releases from them anymore. They are overpriced in general and their lack of respect for OAR on so many titles and lackluster transfers to justify a "Superbit" release leads me to not respect them. They have their apologists on this forum, but from where I'm sitting they have continually declined over the past couple of years.

    I like the technical specs of Blu-ray, but the respect I have for Warner and lack thereof for Sony makes me think maybe HD-DVD is preferable.
     
  3. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    I keep asking for someone to post a list of all the Columbia titles that are in the incorrect ratio. No one has, no one will. Why? Because the majority of what they put out is correct. The minority isn't and yes, while it's annoying, this damning of the entire output of a company because of a few stupid errors in judgment is just silly.

    I will continue to support and purchase from any company that has the good taste to issue wonderful transfers of some of my favorite obscure films (at least obscure to this generation for the most part) - Bunny Lake is Missing, Bonjour Tristesse, The Swimmer, 3:10 to Yuma, the Judy Holliday movies, Requiem for a Heavyweight and on and on and on. Every studio has had their brain hiccups, but that doesn't mean one should resort to such emotion-laden screaming headers such as this. You may as well boycott Universal, Warners (yes, Warners), and every other studio, because they've all done it at one time or another. One hopes that Columbia will see the folly of having done what they've done on those titles they've done it on. One also hopes and prays that they continue to release their fantastic catalog titles in such beautiful transfers, in their OAR.
     
  4. Daniel Windsor

    Daniel Windsor Stunt Coordinator

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    I have bought my LAST Sony/Columbia DVD! Page

    Don't be silly.

    Mind Sony own MGM/UA/Orion and lots of other studios. You'd be better not buying any more DVDs at all.

    Take the disc back and write to Sony to complain.
     
  5. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    ...or maybe it's because no one is tracking such information. You seem to expect someone else to do the legwork. Why don't you? "The Bear" is an excellent starting point.

    -paul
     
  6. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I think DROPPING the widescreen version from discs that USED TO include it is MORE than just a "brain hiccup". Not only is that just plain insane, but they had to take the time to create disc art for the unused side, and (in most cases, at least) re-design the covers to remove any references to the widescreen presentation. That time and energy could have been better spent putting out titles that hadn't been issued on DVD yet, or re-doing the few titles that they had done incorrectly before (such as Matilda)- Seriously, how fucking INSANE do you have to be to purposely GET RID OF the proper transfer???
    Here's all the Columbia titles I know of that originally had both widescreen and Foolscreen on the same disc, but now come with ONLY the Foolscreen versions:

    And Justice For All
    3 Ninjas Kick Back
    3 Ninjas Knuckle Up
    About Last Night
    Annie (previously issued with both formats on one dual-layer side, replaced by "special edition" with ONLY pan & scan)
    The Bear
    Blankman
    Blue Thunder
    Body Double
    Cruel Intentions 2
    Dance With Me
    The Deep
    Desperate Measures
    Excess Baggage
    Eye Of The Beholder
    The Fan
    High School High
    Hush
    Idle Hands
    Iron Eagle
    Jawbreaker
    Johnny Mnemonic (Superbit edition available separately)
    Last Action Hero
    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
    The Mirror Has Two Faces
    Mixed Nuts
    Mortal Thoughts
    Moscow On The Hudson
    My Life
    My Stepmother Is An Alien
    No Mercy
    Peggy Sue Got Married
    School Daze (new special edition coming 2/1)
    Sheena
    Spice World
    Still Crazy
    Stuart Little (previously had a widescreen edition and separate foolscreen edition, then reissued with new extras and only the foolscreen transfer)
    The Toy
    Universal Soldier: The Return
    Whatever It Takes
    Wild Things- Theatrical Version (Unrated version is available separately in widescreen)

    This list does NOT include titles that they had issued letterboxed on laserdisc, but decided to do only a Foolscreen DVD (even an non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer would have been preferable), brand-new titles having just come from theatrical release, or ones that had never been issued on disc until now. Other studios have done those things as well, but I dare anyone to list that many titles from ANY other studio that have had widescreen versions deleted and replaced by foolscreen versions! (I can think of only one at the moment: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, from Warner, originally put out with both formats, then reissued as a "special edition" without the widescreen version. A separate widescreen edition was released later after much uproar.)
    I don't boycott all studios that do stupid things; if I did that then I would pretty much be boycotting everyone! I just think taking so many titles off the market and reissuing them as foolscreen-only goes above and beyond stupidity. It's not like I don't already have enough DVDs either, I probably should stop buying more for a while to save for my new TV and get ready for the new high-def discs when they come out, if they're done right of course.
     
  7. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    That's quite a list. Columbia really stinks.
     
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Why Columbia needs to release P&S-only DVD's in 2005 is beyond me.

    Warner, Paramount, and Fox don't need to. [​IMG]
     
  9. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    If you want to add some fullscreen only titles, both Baby Geniuses and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 fit the bill. They've ONLY ever been fullscreen, though - they never existed in widescreen versions.
     
  10. Josh Simpson

    Josh Simpson Supporting Actor

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    IMO, it's pretty much a toss up between Sony and Universal for most bonehead moves from a studio.
     
  11. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    Lots of foolscreen only titles released by Columbia. Here's a few off the top of my head:

    84 Charing Cross Road
    Cowboy
    Homicidal
    Midnight Clear, A
    Perfect
    Three Worlds of Gulliver, The
    Trouble With Angels, The
    Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows
     
  12. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Then there's that one picture about the red-headed orphan...
     
  13. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    Just wait until the SONY/MGM "tilt and scan" Blu-Ray HD releases of 1.33 titles! You'll get IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT conformed to a 1.77 image! I wish I was kidding, but it will likely happen, given their disregard for OAR, and the television industry's desire for HD programming that "fills the screen"....
     
  14. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    What's silly is why the company can get it right most of the time, yet somehow still make these "few stupid errors in judgement." There must be someone in management approving these "few stupid errors." It's time to get rid of them.
     
  15. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    I would like to point out that it is, in fact, unlawful to expose for sale items which are misleadingly labelled, particularly when they claim to contain more items, or items of higher value, than are inclosed. I would not be liable to complain about, say, my ARMITAGE III POLY-MATRIX LD which is mislabelled as containing both analog stereo and AC-3 5.1 [a technical impossibility]; but that is just plain fraud or what could be construed as such.
     
  16. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    A few stupid errors is one thing. But Columbia pulls this crap so wantonly that it's getting harder to look past this. The seem to be by far the worst (with the possible exception of Artisan/Lion's Gate) Universal pulls this crap sometimes, but I don't think it is quite as bad as Universal. I don't think that Universal has actually discontinued widescreen versions of their DVDs in favor of P&S only like Columbia does. MGM often sucks, but occaisonally they seemed to have listened to the fan base and may have reversed plans to issue certain planned P&S discs in favor of widescreen.

    Columbia seems to be in bed with Wal*Mart. I believe that the dropped WS sides of DVDs was done to cut the price so that the titles could go into their dump bin. I don't know for sure if it is true, but many of those titles did wind up in there.
     
  17. CraigL

    CraigL Screenwriter

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    How about the A League of their Own SE DVD which doesn't contain a "surround" track. It's just 3.1 while the other languages are in full surround.

    Not to mention that because they do this (wide/full), a lot of their releases tend to be single layered.
     
  18. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I am re-directing this thread to the Studio Feedback area.

    Thanks
     
  19. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    Okay Arthur. You got your list. And it's not a short one. Just because you're satisfied with how Sony/Columbia has handled a few of your pet favorites doesn't mean they are doing a good job overall or in comparison to other studios like Fox, Paramount, Warners, etc.

    I'm not doing any general boycott. I'll buy titles that I want if they are done correctly. But that is becoming increasingly dicey with Sony. Even when they get the OAR right, they often use too much edge enhancement. Their transfers rarely look as good as the other studios work, IMO.

    If we don't protest when a studio isn't up to snuff there's little chance they will improve.
     
  20. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    I have had a list of these full screen only re-issues on Widescreen Advocate for a long time now. I have added several from Jessie's list that I was missing. Mine also contains several that Jessie missed, making mine the most accurate list available. If anyone has any additional ones not on my list, please let me know.

    The OAR Watchdog is another good resource for Full Screen only DVD's from all Studios.
     

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