Special editions better than barebones?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Mike D, Feb 15, 2004.

  1. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    We all love the extras included on special editions, but with all the titles yet to be released on DVD, I hate to think we are impeding or preventing their release.

    With the resources spent on SE disks perhaps a studio could have released four of five barebones catalog titles. Is public demand for extras, restoration, remastering, etc. a boon or a bane to cinephiles?

    With a new HD format looming in a few years, it won't be long before studios face another round of reissues. If format changes keep accelerating a dwindling number of "core" classics will be the only titles that will see light of day in each format.

    My question is should studios release ALL their titles, no matter what condition they're in, or should they focus their time and energy on presenting their best titles in the best possible condition? Are the two, in fact, mutually exclusive?

    I worry that VHS will forever remain the only format for many unsung obscurities.
     
  2. Dwayne

    Dwayne Supporting Actor

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    First off, I don't think it's fair to say that everyone loves extras. There are plenty on this forum that don't care about them. I happen to prefer them since they offer me a chance to delve deeper into the film and its production. But I don't represent everyone.

    Secondly, when a new format comes out and a studio happens to visit a title in their catalog that hasn't been released on DVD, it doesn't mean that they have to release it to DVD before releasing it on the newer format. They might just skip the DVD release altogether.

    Thirdly, I think that all films deserve to be presented with the highest possible quality. Mind you, I am not referring to extras here but to the A/V quality of the release itself. Anything less is disrepectful to the hard work of those who made the original piece.
     
  3. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    If it meant that every film that people want on the shelves would be available in their original aspect ratios and at the highest possible quality, I would have little problem with the absence of special editions.
     
  4. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    Although every fanboy wants a "special edition" of his favorite movie, no matter how mediocre, the truth of the matter is very few films are worthy of a special edition.

    I resent haveing to pay for a two disc special edition when all I want is the movie! I'd appreciate it if the studios would do a barebones edition of a title at $14.99 and the two disc special edition at $24.99. That $10 difference can be applied to another disc purchase.

    That way if I want the two disc special edition of Singin' In The Rain but only the barebones Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, I'll have the choice.
     
  5. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    I have a different take on it from you, Thomas T. If I like a movie enough to buy it, I appreciate having any decent special features that can be dug up for it. So if you already like, as you say, Treasure of the Sierra Madre enough to buy it, isn't it nice to have the great documentaries that are included about the movie itself and about John Huston's career?
     
  6. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    I don't care about extras too much. I do watch them on some movies, but no biggie for me.

    I would rather see optimal OAR picture and sound quality come first. If there is money left over, sure, throw some extras on there and less powderpuff "HBO - Inside Look - look how great this movie is" garbage.

    Close Encounters and LOTR: EE versions are good examples of how to make extras or just a good documentary. No, it doesn't have to be as long as those, but something of 'quality' is nice.
     
  7. Dane Marvin

    Dane Marvin Screenwriter

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    I rarely buy a DVD that isn't a special edition of a film. I only make a purchase when I am sure I am getting the final edition of the film on the format. Special Edition doesn't have to mean "lots of special features" -- it often means an anamorphic transfer, DTS, extensive restoration, better packaging, and things of that nature. These are generally things that, as a film fan and a DVD collector, I can't live without.

    It is for this reason that I'd rather spend the money on one Warner 2-Disc SE of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" than on a copy of a the featureless snapper case version and lunch at McDonalds.

    The first purchase will stay with me much longer.
     
  8. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    My concern is about the effect special editions have on film history. With limited release budgets, are you glad to have classic DVDs released with pristine elements, LDI cleanups, scholarly commentaries, etc. even if it means that some, less popular, titles never get a release at all?

    Or would you prefer that both titles get released even if it means they both get barebones treatment?

    Are you satisfied with the balance the studios have struck between quality and quantity?

    VHS was around for 20+ years but never managed to transfer all the films in the studio vaults. DVD will be lucky to last 10 years and is unlikely to transfer all the titles available on VHS. As the cycle repeats, do you forsee a time when a studio's back catalog will consist of only a few dozen restored "classics" while thousands of less popular titles are forgotten because they were never profitable enough to be transferred to the new format(s)?

    Will they really be missed?
     
  9. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer
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    For the person who wants the film, yes. I would rather have films released with the best possible picture and sound: even if it meant losing the extras. The whole point of the hobby is the film. Isn't it?

    I would really like to have a copy of THE PLAGUE DOGS on disc, but it doesn't look like it is going to be released in R1 anytime soon.
     
  10. Joe_Pinney

    Joe_Pinney Stunt Coordinator

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    I think eventually the industry just might go in this direction, once the technological infrastructure is in place for the majority of society to engage with it -

    Film library catalogs will all be digitized (as many titles as possible), and there will be "Special Editions" for various titles throughout the years, based on internet voting tabulations. At the very least, there will be the possibility of your favorite less-popular/non-major classic/obscure film being available on DVD, but the kicker would be that, using a video-on-demand philosophy, you'd go online, find your movie(s), pay for them online, discs from as-pristine-as-possible transfers would be burned or picked from stock, and the discs would be shipped to you. When choosing online, most titles would just be listed as-is, but some would give you a choice of "movie-only" or "Special Edition". Video transfer quality control would be one of the very most important aspects of this, of course - anamorphic, OAR, from brand-new or restored elements wherever possible.

    This way, the public could be satisfied, the studios could make money, and the overall costs involved for less-popular titles would be very minimal (mostly for proper transfers and quality film element searches). I think the studios would probably be shocked, in some cases, to find out which catalog titles of theirs would sell like gangbusters (and warrant a Special Edition), plus, there'd be a record of everyone who purchased a specific title (which would help in their anti-piracy tracking efforts). And most importantly, that guy who's a fan of Flying Down to Rio or Romance on the High Seas or The Challenge or even Drum could get his DVD with a high-quality transfer (and subtitles), and the studios wouldn't be risking tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars just on DVD production, duplication, and distribution.
     
  11. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Right on, I want the effort put into the feature. If there's historical significance that's relevant (film or otherwise), or the extras enhance our understanding of the film, then go ahead with them. There is a tendency to fill extra discs with junk, for people who have nothing better to do, or who haven't learnt to move on and appreciate variety I guess. It is disheartening to see a studio put resources into 3-disc versions of trifling by any standard (film or otherwise[​IMG]) films, but then it ain't my money they'll be getting and I presume marketing has determined the fan-boys will buy anything.
     
  12. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I'm one of the very few extras lovers on this forum. However, if a feature is released, it's of the highest A/V quality possible (OAR and OSL of course), and it's priced right, then I don't mind bare bones releases. Otherwise, I usually go for the extras loaded version because I really can't tell the difference after a certain quality of video. I love to delve into the history of films.

    A lone exception was the Lawrence of Arabia Superbit. I double-dipped on that one. [​IMG]
     
  13. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

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    The SE release has a much, much better transfer. Night and day difference..
     
  14. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    Haggai,

    I like Treasure Of The Sierra Madre but have no interest in commentaries, how it was made, backstories etc. I haven't got Treausre yet and I'll most likely scan the extras and never look at them again.

    On the other hand, I LOVE Singin' In The Rain and want every detail about it.

    That's why I wish the studios would give me the option of spending the money on that second disc.
     
  15. Anthony Neilson

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    I'm sorry but this just seems like a very strange thread to me. How could anyone be complaining about MORE content on a disc ? You can complain about BAD content on a disc, or rip-off marketing, or bad presentations of the films themselves, but I don't think the absence of extra materials would make any difference at all to the availability or condition of the films released.

    On the contrary, it's the revenue raised from big-selling Special Editions that make it possible for studios to release the lesser known films in the generally good condition they're presented in.

    Most studios have taken on board the fact that a high-quality version should be the centrepiece of a Special Edition. You think the few that haven't would suddenly start devoting all the time they WOULD have spent on putting together special features on getting the prints perfect ? Dream on.

    If the issue is price, then I can only say that frankly, you're spoiled. DVDs in the States are way cheaper than they are in Europe, that's for sure, and always have been.
    Maybe because you had Laserdisc you've all got tired of seeing documentaries and listening to commentaries, but I'm still very fascinated by most of it. It's great to take home a copy of a favourite movie and watch it ; but then to have the OPTION (note that word) to extend your viewing experience is fantastic.

    Sure I'd settle for THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE on its own. But to gripe about the inclusion of the excellent Huston documentary, or the commentary, or the documentary on the making of the film ?

    I'm sorry, guys, but to me this just seems like the ultimate whinge ! [​IMG]
     

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