Stefan Andersson

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I just read this over at www.nitrateville.com:

"My one concern is that Universal just laid off their entire preservation unit, so if this (refers to a new restoration of Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1923) wasn't finished at the time, I'm not sure what will become of this or any other projects they were working on. When I visited last year they weren't just doing this. They were doing color correction on SPARTACUS, fixing one of the W.C. Fields pictures, they had a new scan of CAPE FEAR, and they scanned several of my Show-at-Home prints for future restorations (11 WASHINGTON SQUARE was one; I'm blanking on the others right now)."

See post by JonChaneyFan, Sep. 07, 2020:


Googling this subject I find information about NBCUniversal laying off staff, but no specific references to film preservation personnel.
 
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Ronald Epstein

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This information was posted here a few weeks ago. It's good you are following up on it as there was some initial confusion over the layoff actions.

You would think that with no theatrical for the studios to ride on, they would be mining their catalog for revenue. However, if funding for Home Entertainment restoration depends on theatrical revenue then I can better understand what is occurring.
 

OliverK

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Why cant a billionaire movie enthusiast buy a studio for a change ?
Yeah, like when Howard Hughes bought RKO - oh wait...

Kidding aside it is rather unfortunate that billionaires generally seem to be desinterested in older movies in dire need of some TLC.
As for buying a whole studio I would say that with the going prices there are not that many billionaires who could get such a deal off the ground.
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Why cant a billionaire movie enthusiast buy a studio for a change ?
Well, would it actually be enough for a billionaire to be an enthusiast? We're not exactly talking pocket change even for someone like Bill Gates afterall... and any billionaire who'd consider such pet projects have a ton of other highly worthy causes lobbying for support...

And remember, wealthy people don't usually have most of their wealth in highly liquid form -- plus they are basically sacrificing all that $$$ if it's not gonna have much of any economic returns...

_Man_
 

Rob W

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Almost everyone here (certainly not cadavra) suddenly seems to have forgotten that the studios have done more restoration and preservation on their libraries in the last decade than at any time in their history, thanks to digital technology and the switch to digital as the theatrical projection standard. We've seen knockout restorations of title after title for the last few years. It's not like studio heads are ignoring their libraries and leaving them buried in the garage to rot. There will always be titles that someone, somewhere feels has been unjustly neglected. Not all of them are going to be released on blu or dvd, even if they are restored.

The unpleasant fact is that studios, like almost every other industry have been devastated by the pandemic and have to trim back their costs (hopefully temporarily) to continue operating with minimal revenue coming in.
 

OliverK

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Almost everyone here (certainly not cadavra) suddenly seems to have forgotten that the studios have done more restoration and preservation on their libraries in the last decade than at any time in their history, thanks to digital technology and the switch to digital as the theatrical projection standard. We've seen knockout restorations of title after title for the last few years. It's not like studio heads are ignoring their libraries and leaving them buried in the garage to rot. There will always be titles that someone, somewhere feels has been unjustly neglected. Not all of them are going to be released on blu or dvd, even if they are restored.

The unpleasant fact is that studios, like almost every other industry have been devastated by the pandemic and have to trim back their costs (hopefully temporarily) to continue operating with minimal revenue coming in.
Yes studios have invested heavily in their catalog and I do not hope that anybody will deny that.

Despite that if you would do a rundown of the number of titles a studio holds and the ones that are available on DVD and Blu-ray or as a DCP you would see that these numbers do not look very good.

People don't live forever so it is of concern especially to older members that the number of movies released per year is as high as possible. The studios alone will never do it as it would not be economically viable so it isn't surprising that people would look elsewhere for possible funding.

Edit: And I am sure that nobody is that serious about recruiting billionaire funding to restore catalog titles, not that I wouldn't be happy if it actually came true...
 
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cadavra

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Almost everyone here (certainly not cadavra) suddenly seems to have forgotten that the studios have done more restoration and preservation on their libraries in the last decade than at any time in their history, thanks to digital technology and the switch to digital as the theatrical projection standard. We've seen knockout restorations of title after title for the last few years. It's not like studio heads are ignoring their libraries and leaving them buried in the garage to rot. There will always be titles that someone, somewhere feels has been unjustly neglected. Not all of them are going to be released on blu or dvd, even if they are restored.

The unpleasant fact is that studios, like almost every other industry have been devastated by the pandemic and have to trim back their costs (hopefully temporarily) to continue operating with minimal revenue coming in.
Thanks, Rob. And for the record, there were indeed lay-offs, but the department has NOT been shut down entirely and there are still personnel there, though work has slowed for obvious reasons.
 

Ejanss

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I just read this over at www.nitrateville.com:
They were doing color correction on SPARTACUS, fixing one of the W.C. Fields pictures, they had a new scan of CAPE FEAR, and they scanned several of my Show-at-Home prints for future restorations (11 WASHINGTON SQUARE was one; I'm blanking on the others right now)."
I'm guessing the Fields picture was "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break", as released by Kino Lorber (because Universal doesn't give a crap)?
 

Astairefan

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I'm guessing the Fields picture was "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break", as released by Kino Lorber (because Universal doesn't give a crap)?
Unless you are being sarcastic, I highly doubt the W.C. Fields title being referred to was Never Give A Sucker An Even Break. I would sooner guess that it was My Little Chickadee, for which we are currently awaiting for a release date. I know it was announced back in May 2018 that that was one of at least five films being restored by Universal and the Film Foundation. One of those five was the recently released (by Criterion) Destry Rides Again. Of course, for all we know, they may have been working on another W. C. Fields title, but given that Never Give A Sucker An Even Break was released this year, from a deal newly struck in January 2020, and, according to the quote, Universal was said to be working on something last year, it seems unlikely to be Never Give A Sucker An Even Break.
 

Ejanss

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I would sooner guess that it was My Little Chickadee, for which we are currently awaiting for a release date.
Yes, like their Abbott & Costello titles, I can assume that Universal's restorations would be horse-blindered to the Iconic Titles We've Heard Of.
My Little Chickadee is by no means the best WC Fields, but it's the one most mainstream people imitate.
 

Ed Lachmann

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Disney = Studio Killer
Ron, you and I are now on the same page (even though I'm such a sword and sandal fan that I LOVE the Disney owned Big Fisherman as well as WBs Silver Chalice. There are so many different tastes here and that is really a very good thing.
 
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Astairefan

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Yes, like their Abbott & Costello titles, I can assume that Universal's restorations would be horse-blindered to the Iconic Titles We've Heard Of.
My Little Chickadee is by no means the best WC Fields, but it's the one most mainstream people imitate.
Well, that, and My Little Chickadee may get licensed by Criterion. I'm not surprised Never Give A Sucker An Even Break didn't get a new restoration, given that Kino's previous two W.C. Fields silents were poor sellers (hence, why they are in the "While Supplies Last" sale), and, about the time that Never Give A Sucker An Even Break was released, Kino's Insider said on the other forum that the early sales weren't looking good for that title, either. I'm certainly no expert on W.C. Fields, but if Never Give A Sucker An Even Break (which I would guess is one of his better known titles) can't sell well, what chance have most of the rest of his films, no matter the quality? As it is, I know Kino's Insider has stated that Kino will likely not be looking into more W.C. Fields because of the poor sales (at least, not unless Universal themselves has given them at least an HD scan).
 
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Josh Steinberg

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What does Disney have to do with anything? Fox doesn’t exist anymore because the Murdoch family decided it didn’t want to be in the movie studio business and sold the company to a competitor. Comcast (Universal’s parent company) was the other bidder and could have wound up buying Fox, and the result would have been the same - no more Fox. No one forced the Murdochs to sell, they could have kept running the studio. No one forced them to sell to a competitor, they could have sold to a company that didn’t have a studio. They made a business decision, and hey, you can’t have show business without business. I don’t understand why that always gets left out of the conversation.
 

OliverK

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What does Disney have to do with anything? Fox doesn’t exist anymore because the Murdoch family decided it didn’t want to be in the movie studio business and sold the company to a competitor. Comcast (Universal’s parent company) was the other bidder and could have wound up buying Fox, and the result would have been the same - no more Fox. No one forced the Murdochs to sell, they could have kept running the studio. No one forced them to sell to a competitor, they could have sold to a company that didn’t have a studio. They made a business decision, and hey, you can’t have show business without business. I don’t understand why that always gets left out of the conversation.
Obviously there are people who think that Disney could have done better with Fox which would not be that difficult. For starters they could have kept the name - the studio was called Fox not 20th Century last I discussed their catalog - and kept releasing catalog titles on disc. Maybe you do not think that was a reasonable expectation given what Disney did with their own catalog before they acquired Fox and I would agree but I don't have to like it.

I think the jury is still out regarding other entities being able to release Fox titles on disc, has anybody heard about that? As for the Murdoch family I always expected the worst from them so no surprises there.
 
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