TV on DVD: will they finish what they begin?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rob Gardiner, Aug 29, 2002.

  1. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Hi everybody, I'm a long-time reader and relatively new poster. This is my first new thread!

    I am very much enjoying the bonanza of TV shows on DVD and this fall's schedule looks particularly great. However I am worried that the studios smelled $$$ when THE X-FILES and THE SIMPSONS sold so well (having the TV market all to themselves) and now there seems to be a glut of titles available. I am afraid that some of these will not sell as well as expected (simply because there is so much product to choose from and we all have limited funds) and further volumes may not be forthcoming if sales are disappointing. Columbia has many many Season 1 box sets but I don't know of any Season 2 releases announced by them. Does anyone else have the same concern? I am looking forward to 2 seasons of MALCOLM, 5 of LAW & ORDER, both OUTER LIMITS, and ALL IN THE FAMILY until Mike & Gloria move out. I just hope all of this gets released.
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    As much as I like Law and Order no way would I buy any DVDs unless they were very cheap. After all L&O reruns must be on 25 times a week.

    Now All in the Family: that would be a treat!
     
  3. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    There is always the possibility that sets will not be completed, but the only way to assure that they do get completed is to support them as they are released.

    Keep your fingers crossed.

    I'm confident that the following will be completed:

    X-files
    Simpsons (yes, really)
    Stargate SG-1
    Star Trek (all, not just TNG)
    Friends
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Beyond that? Who knows. I wonder if any studios would be willing to assure that all seasons will come out for X series.
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    DS9 is to be released next year, I think, following the model established by TNG's excellent boxsets. And talk has it that Voyager follows in 2004 (though I will definitely pass on that!).

    And Joseph Stefano's The Outer Limits first season (1963-64, ABC-TV) is coming out--when?--next week? Man, I can hardly wait!

    I really like this. And I want more PBS documentaries (especially NOVA episodes), as well as the better stuff from A&E Networks.

    This is a great time for quality TV on DVD.
     
  5. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Everyone is panicking because Columbia has yet to announce Season 2s

    Since Columbia doesn't talk about anything until they solicit it (no more than 12 weeks before release, and it's usually closer to 8) I wouldn't panick for a minimum of another 6 months

    I'm sure Fox will finish any series they start

    Universal has yet to start releasing ANYTHING, so don't panick until they actually get the show out. Notice that half of the shows Universal announced have 5 seasons or less.
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  7. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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  8. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    I sure hope the studios commit to finishing whatever they start. After all, it's an expensive leap of faith for consumers to start collecting a series only to have it be incomplete. That's how I got burned buying Babylon 5 on laserdisc. [​IMG]
    I still don't know how far I will go with The X-Files DVD sets, given how expensive those are. I've managed some really good deals so far, finding Vol. 2 for half off in an online sale, getting Vol. 3 for half off in a used CD store and then getting Vols. 4 and 5 for less than $60 each when I visited the Fox studio store this summer while on the TV critics press tour. That little store is awesome, and everything sells for the employee prices, I guess.
    Mark me down for The Outer Limits and Emergency, especially if the latter show is uncut (unlike it is on TV Land).
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Lew: The Civil War is to be released either next month or in October, can't remember which! The release is to coincide with PBS's rebroadcasting of the superb-beyond-words Ken Burns documentary series. JB
     
  10. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    If they release Babylon 5 and don't finish the series, I will kill people. I'm almost tempted to wait until all 5 seasons are out, but if we wait, then they'll take it as a lack of interest and won't release the rest. Damned if ya do, damned if ya don't.
     
  11. LarryH

    LarryH Supporting Actor

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    As another customer who got burned by Warner on Babylon 5 laserdisks, I am rather anxious about this commitment, too. Maybe we should get organized for a class action suit if they don't fulfill the implied contract when they start a series. (Only partly kidding.)

    Anyhow, I'm ready to start buying season sets as soon as they start coming out (I guess 11/5/02 is pretty firm).
     
  12. Ian_H

    Ian_H Supporting Actor

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    Hey Lew,

    From image-entertainment.com:

    CIVIL WAR (DVD)

    Year: 1990
    Length: 660 minutes
    Rating: Not Rated
    MSRP: $ 129.98
    Status: Active
    Release Date: 9/17/2002
    Pre-Order Date: 8/13/2002
    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Catalog Number: B8689DVD
    UPC: 794054868920

    Actors/Artists: Colleen Dewhurst, Ed Bearss, Hoyt Axton, Laurence Fishburne, Morgan Freeman, Shelby Foote
    Director: Ken Burns

    Synopsis: Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling, Ken Burns's epic documentary brings to life America's most destructive -- and defining -- conflict. With digitally enhanced images and new stereo sound, here is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one. Witness how the Civil War was brought to life on DVD in a symphony of words, pictures and sound with the help of state of the art technology and production wizardry. Noted historians, musicians, columnists and critics discuss how the Civil War has impacted American life - and their own lives. Candid interviews reveal how the film's release touched millions of lives and created a renewed interest in American history.

    PRODUCT FEATURES:

    Audio Format: Stereo
    Screen Format: Full Frame
    16x9: No
    Color: Color
    Region Code: Region 1
    Original Languages: English
    English Dubbed: No
    Other Languages: None
    Subtitles: None

    SPECIAL FEATURES:

    5-Disc Box Set; Over 5 hours of Audio Commentary by Ken Burns; Behind-the-scenes "The Civil War Reconstruction"; Cast/Crew Biographies; Interactive "Civil War" maps; trivia game


    So there you go.

    --Ian
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Jack and Ian, thanks for the news. [​IMG] [​IMG] $130 is not cheap, but it is money that I will gladly pay.
     
  14. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    I'm still miffed at MTV for not completing the Aeon Flux DVD series. [​IMG]
     
  15. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    I enjoyed what I saw of Aeon Flux, but I could never follow the story as MTV broadcast it. I think it would be very interesting to see the story uninterrupted.

    How long is Aeon Flux when you put it all together?
     
  16. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    I'm another who got burned on the Babylon 5 Laserdisk and really hope they finish this on DVD as well as the other T.V. shows that have been started. But sales will probably dictate which shows are completed and which are abandoned.
    The studios are probably just feeling out the market to see what shows will sell as Columbia House did with their T.V. shows on VHS. But hopefully everyones favorite show will be completed because its really a bummer when they are not completed.
     
  17. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Of course sales are going to determine what gets released and what doesn't, and of course the studios are not going to commit to losing money by completing a show that isn't selling. Paramount has been able to commit in advance to releasing the Trek series in their entirety (and could afford to start spending money to produce them last year, which is how they're able to maintain their release schedule) because Trek is the 600 lb. gorilla of TV shows on home video - essentially a license to print money. Paramount can't lose money on Trek and they know it.
    As for people getting "burned" by Warner Bros. on B5 - the studio got burned too, remember. They spent a lot of money mastering the series for VHS and LD, and then the fans stopped buying them. Didn't the fans enter into an "implied contract" to complete their collections? [​IMG] (Actually, I think both arguments are nonsense, but if you can make one case, you can make the other.)
    The fact is that when word got out that the series might be coming to DVD fans voted with their wallets and stopped buying the LDs and VHS tapes. So Warner Bros. stopped making them. If you want to blame somebody for this, blame your fellow fans. They, not the studio, are the ones who killed the LDs and the tapes.
    Personally, I never wasted my money on the earlier home video releases (except for one token VHS three pack and a single TV movie, In the Beginning on LD) because I was confident that WHV would eventually release the series on DVD.
    These things are always a gamble for both sides. It isn't cheap to master 22 episodes for DVD and create all kinds of extras. The risk WHV takes is that they won't sell, and they'll be out all that money. The risk the fans take is that interest in the series will wane at some point, and the release will be cancelled due to poor sales. But if that happens, it won't be the studio's fault. Again, they're under no obligation to produce product for us at a loss. If I were a shareholder I'd be pretty pissed at a company that lost money producing a product that wasn't selling just to make a very small group of fans happy.
    As Peter Staddon told me two years ago, when I asked him about The X-Files, "We'll keep making them as long as you keep buying them." This is the only "implied contract" that the studios give us. The success of failure of any given series it determined by the market - which is to say, by us.
    As for "too much product" - I don't think that is that much of an issue. I don't think there is that much overlap in people's "must have" list. Any series that was a hit on television (which is most of what we're seeing) had many millions of fans. If even a fraction of those buy the DVDs, the show will be profitable, and will continue. As long as each show has a core group of fans big enough to sustain a DVD release, competition won't be a problem. The only series I'm buying this year is B5, not through choice, but through economic circumstances. But when things get better I'll go back and pick up the X-Files sets I've missed this year, and TNG - perhaps even Law & Order, despite its being on what seems like 9 times a day. [​IMG] I expect all those shows will still be available when the time comes, because each of them will have enough fans who "must have" them to keep them going.
    However, I don't think every TV series is a potential hit on DVD. Niche shows with small but fanatical fan bases (like B5) are a good bet - especially those with continuing storylines, which make fans more likely to want all the episodes. But I think the trend for series which are neither huge ratings hits nor "cult" favorites is going to be the "Best Of" collection - because I don't think there will be enough people who will absolutely have to have each and every episode. Of course, such sets will likely be cheaper, easier to "complete" and therefore reduce the "competition" problem.
    Regards,
    Joe
     

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