Most Improved: Universal and Paramount

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Amy Mormino, Apr 19, 2004.

  1. Amy Mormino

    Amy Mormino Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Messages:
    537
    Likes Received:
    0
    There has been a lot of criticism directed towards Paramount and Universal over the past few years for their DVD release methods. Universal was criticized over their ET and Back to the Future releases and for being stingy with their back catalogs, among other things. Paramount was put down for their stingy bare-bones releases of beloved titles and for over-pricing.

    In the past year, though, both studios has made big leaps forwards. Paramount is finally releasing some decent special editions (I'm especially excited about The Untouchables upcoming SE) and their pricing for bare bones titles have been excellent. A lot even end up in the Walmart $5.88 bin. And Universal is opening the vaults like crazy- just notice their latest release of classics coming up. They even corrected some of the problems with Bride of Frankenstein. Universal doesn't have the style and friendliness of WB for classics, but for pricing and value, they can't be beat. Were the changes caused by a change of management? Consumer demand? Reading HTF posts?

    So, let's give some credit where it's due. Hopefully Columbia will be the next to improve.
     
  2. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    Messages:
    9,209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Universal really couldn't have gotten much worse, and they've still got a long way to go, forced trailors anyone?

    My Paramount buying is way up though because they really are stepping up, but I rarely buy something from Universal because I'm still half afraid to come to HTF and find a thread talking about how something is wrong with one of their discs, like Meaning of Life.
     
  3. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2003
    Messages:
    3,883
    Likes Received:
    0
    I still don't have much to be happy about as far as Universal is concerned. And while one title doesn't a studio make, Once Upon A Time In The West from Paramount is so mind-blowingly good, and so surprisingly cheap (less than $20 in most places, for a jam-packed 2-disc SE), that I have to give them maximum props for that.

    Actually, I also have to give Paramount a shout-out for Sunset Boulevard, from late 2002. That disc is crazy good.
     
  4. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,959
    Likes Received:
    1
    Paramount yes, but they still have a long way to go in releasing catalog titles.

    Universal - You've got to be kidding. They are mind-numbingly bad and releasing mediocore transfer discs for cheap isn't a solution to anything in my opinion. I find myself being very hesitant before I buy anything with Universal on the label.
    Just a short list of problem discs
    • Jurassic Park - DTS problem
    • E.T. - Original version debacle
    • Back to the Future - Misframing problem
    • Meaning of Life - Screwed up transfer
    • Forced Trailers on many discs
    • Dropped Extras on re-releases - See Animal House
    • Bargain Basement Collections with quality problems
    • Very little respect for their classics
    • etc..etc...etc...etc...
     
  5. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    0
    Universal may be doing a better job in getting more of their catalog titles on DVD, but in every other department they are just as bad.
     
  6. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    i think Paramount started to make huge strides back in late '02/early '03 and now they are right up there as far as i'm concerned.
    used to be, Paramount would release a bare bones catalog title for $25/$30 msrp.
    now thats down to $19.95, and even more often $14.95- with street prices commonly around $10.

    that's perfect!
    sure it would be nice to have a trailer once in a while, but i'll take a good OAR transfer at a great price anyday!
    its frustrating that they are taking their time releasing some major, or at least more loved, catalog titles, but- they'll come eventually.

    Universal...
    on the one hand, i like their price points, and i usually like their quality, but they can be frustratingly erractic in that last dept.
    and even moreso than Paramount, they have a great catalog of genre titles (i'm talking about the monster/sci-fi material) that MADE that studio what it is and for some reason it looks like they are ashamed of them.
    at least thats the impression i get since they seem so hesitient to ballyhoo them any more than is absolutely neccessay.

    it seems they are FINALLY cracking into the film noirs this summer, so thats a VERY positive step there.
    but it remains to be seen what they can accomplish in the last 3 months of the year.

    Universal appears to be getting better, but i would argue that Paramount already is and has been there for a while now.
     
  7. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,540
    Likes Received:
    177


    I agree 100%. Let's not forget Universal is the studio who gave out defective "corrected" discs. I mean that says it all!
     
  8. Matt_H

    Matt_H Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    0
    I still can't believe Universal released They live and Prince of Darkness bare bones when there are preexisting commentaries by John Carpenter!
     
  9. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2001
    Messages:
    3,594
    Likes Received:
    0
    I must agree. Universal is the pits! They have a long, long way to go to return to my good graces. Perhaps when NBC/GE gets a new management structure in place & working, we might see some improvement.
     
  10. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    3,576
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yep, Universal hasn't improved at all in my opinion. They still treat their horror catalog pretty badly too, always making them barebones no matter what, and not spending a dime to be able to put on already available extras like the Prince of Darkness and They Live commentary tracks. I have both of those gems on R2 with the commentaries, as there was no way I'd pass up on those commentaries, as POD is one of my top 5 favorite films, and They Live is very high on my favorites list as well.

    Paramount has improved a bit thankfully, but they still could use a little more.
     
  11. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7,502
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    KY
    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott
    The two Carpenter commentary tracks were from a different studio and they weren't willing to let Universal use them even if Universal wanted to pay for them.

    Universal is far from Warner or Fox but they are still miles better than MGM. Warner released many good titles last year (Brando, Stewart among them) and this year is even better so I have no problems with them. All of the Abbott and Costello films for under $60 is pretty good to me.

    As for Paramount, I think they've been doing great work for the past three or four years. I also recently watched several of their early DVDs and the video/audio quality is still very good even with some non-anamorphic titles. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and HUD were brilliant releases and even the smaller stuff usually has great V/A.
     
  12. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 1998
    Messages:
    2,132
    Likes Received:
    7
    Real Name:
    Glenn
    Just reading your thread title my immediate reaction was "Paramount yes, Universal no." Reading the posts above I see I'm not alone. My reasons have been adequately covered above.
     
  13. CraigL

    CraigL Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2000
    Messages:
    1,863
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ironic that this thread about Universal comes out the day it is announced that a re-release of The Bourne Identity is coming out. [​IMG]
     
  14. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2001
    Messages:
    1,011
    Likes Received:
    0

    Thank you! I've bought very few Universal DVD's in the last year or so. They no longer produce SE's of anything I actually want(save for the forthcoming Monster collections) and I've heard so many nightmare stories of late about their product, I'm almost afraid to.

    They have plenty of sci-fi and horror properties that are perfect candidates for better treatment or special editions. As nice as the supplements were, we still don't have an anamorphic version of The Thing. What is it with their John Carpenter stash? The same thing goes for their Wes Craven titles.

    Don't even get me started on the Psycho series. The original needs to be anamorphic. Psycho II has never been OAR and the DVD is an awful, ratty-looking laserdisc rehash from GoodTimes. Psycho III is OAR but could be better. The GoodTimes DVD is non-anamorphic, if I'm not mistaken. The made-for-Showtime Psycho IV is not available at all.

    Granted, the prices aren't too bad, but I'm sick of these NEAT(Not Even A Trailer) releases on catalog. The same goes with Paramount. At least Universal isn't squeamish when it comes to the "unrated" banner.
     
  15. Robert Floto

    Robert Floto Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 1999
    Messages:
    739
    Likes Received:
    0
    Universal!?!

    I have two words for you...

    The Sting.
     
  16. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    0
    Its interesting about the Sting - I worked at Universal when the Sting was in theaters and the level of pride and the overall buzz at the studio was electric. And this was back in the Lew Wasserman days. EVERYONE on the lot was wearing a "Sting" button of some kind.

    I have been back at Universal off and on in the intervening years and I have never seen that kind of buzz on the lot about ANY film that they have done since.

    I gues the old guard that held that film in such high esteem must have all gone the way of the DoDo bird. Its a shame too - Hell, half the people in HV at Universal have probably never seen the film LOL.

    But, on a more positive note, NBC's aquisition of Universal is expected to be approved by the SEC and finalized by this summer. Maybe they will be more inclined to improve the HV side of the house more then Vivendi and Seagrams was.

    On a more trivial note - Remember the 3 tones that accompanied the NBC logo on TV (I dont know if they still play them as I have not watched TV in years)? Anyone know what the notes were and what they stood for?

    A free kudos (no not the candy bar) to the first right answer [​IMG]
     
  17. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    1,915
    Likes Received:
    2
    I echo the comments on the Sting. I hate Universal when it comes to cataloge titles. And how many releases of the American Pie/ Fast and Furious/Animal House series do we need?! And dont get me going on their forced trailers bit.

    Paramount has improved alot in my eyes.

    Disney needs to start adding trailers to their releases. I loved the Pirates teaser which isnt on the DVD. And why do you have to put so much on DVD Rom when some of us dont have DVD roms?! I cant see half of the extras on Pirates becasue of this.
     
  18. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2000
    Messages:
    3,649
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    I agree that both have improved alot this year.
    Universal has become my second favorite studio this year after Warners thanks to their great franchise collections of their older catalog films with good transfers and great prices. I just don't get the backlash against Universal. I agree that before this year they were one of the worst but how anyone can overlook all the great improvements they've made this year is beyond me. It seems most of the current criticsm of them is more from not having one's favorite titles released yet or re-released as a special edition yet[​IMG]
     
  19. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,959
    Likes Received:
    1
    Randy,

    You've peaked my curiosity. What has Universal done that is so great in your opinion. I have seen nothing this year that even gives me the slightest inclination that they're turning around let alone the 2nd best. Warner pulls out the stops for nearly every release no matter what it's standing is. Fox is releasing magnificent DVDs of 2nd and 3rd rate classics. I can't think of a single studio except for Artisan that constantly puts out more problematic and lackluster DVDs.
     
  20. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    (I relaize that question wasn't directed at me but...)
    The Franchise packs (if you were a fan of any of these franchises) have been a very, VERY good value.
    in addition the packaging on some of them (Airport, Ma & Pa Kettle, A&C, Doris Day) has been very nice- especially given the price points.
    sure there has been a hiccup (the Pillow Talk fiasco), but by and large, these represent a good value and a good effort as far as limited appeal catalog material goes.

    and i've , on the whole, been happy with my Don Knotts, and Jimmy Stewart westerns.
    very good transfer (mostly) and excellant price points.

    Universal is not ALL bad.
     

Share This Page