Ronald Epstein

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At the 2008 HTF Hollywood Meet (?), we sat down with Twilight Time, and one of the things they said to us was that while some titles sold out almost instantaneously (Christine, both releases of Fright Night), many barely made a blip on the radar. Yet, they still made the minimum run of 3,000 copies. When studios like Sony opted not to renew their license with Twilight Time and instead re-issued those titles via MOD under their own program or licensed out to another third party (Shout! Factory, Kino, Mill Creek), that was pretty much the beginning of the end for them.

Very good point. The studios are continually looking to make as much money as they can over and over on a single title. They'll license it to someone like Twilight Time, let the copies sell out, then license it to someone else or sell it under their own label.
 
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OliverK

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That’s what sunk Twilight Time. Their business model worked when it was understood that $30 was the price per disc and that there were no sales. But once they started doing a once a year sale, people held out for sales and product stopped moving on release day. And then they had to do more sales just to keep the business they used to get on release date. And the way their licensing deals were structured, there just wasn’t that kind of wiggle room in their finances to sustain that. Even if Nick Redman hadn’t passed, they were in a tough spot where the number of copies sold at the prices they were selling at just wasn’t enough to sustain it.

It is a very difficult time for makers of physical media.
A company shouldn't do a sale when it isn't sustainable. If the sale prices are too low and people catch up with it a vicious circle is started like it may have been the case with Twilight Time if indeed so many people waited for those sales. Like it or not but many people feel like suckers buying for much more than what a product costs in a sale that is coming anyway.

When the sale is sustainable as it seems to be the case for the Warner Archive and Criterion sales then it is no problem and a chance to move a lot more product but it seems it wasn't such a good idea for TT with the way that they were doing it.

In Europe smaller labels still release a good selection of rather obscure westerns and other movies that you do not see released in the US and that seems to be working even when these titles are region coded. So there is a way to survive as a small label and it seems to be a variety of factors that play into that.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Seems like a (at least partial) reversion back to the old days of quality physical media niche was always inevitable, especially w/ the advent of quality VOD/streaming that essentially rivals physical media (in quality... and exceeds in convenience and affordability) as far as the masses are concerned.

Hopefully, it won't revert too far back though...

I'm more or less ok w/ the current state of affairs, but this too probably won't last indefinitely...

_Man_
 
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jcroy

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A company shouldn't do a sale when it isn't sustainable. If the sale prices are too low and people catch up with it a vicious circle is started like it may have been the case with Twilight Time if indeed so many people waited for those sales. Like it or not but many people feel like suckers buying for much more than what a product costs in a sale that is coming anyway.

When the sale is sustainable as it seems to be the case for the Warner Archive and Criterion sales then it is no problem and a chance to move a lot more product but it seems it wasn't such a good idea for TT with the way that they were doing it.
What is completely unknown, is what the cash flows were in Twilight Time's financial books.

Especially when an operation runs into a "cash crunch" (ie. they can't get a loan to cover current and/or upcoming expenses), they would have to raise cash by selling some of their inventory to move (ie. lower prices).
 
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F451

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I can confirm this. 80% of new titles' sales occur within the first two weeks. After this, they simply stop paying attention. This is one reason why I was always having issues with Sony, constantly telling them catalog sales were a marathon, not a sprint. I got into an argument one day with a woman who said the Budd Boetticher box had only sold 5,000 copies. I told her that was just the first two weeks and the numbers were undoubtedly much higher. She asked her assistant to check, and the number came back: 23,000 and change. Of course, rather than admit her error, she just dismissed it with a "doesn't matter." It's assholes like this (and they are legion) who really ruined the disc market.
I always wondered why the Sony/Boetticher DVD set was marketed without prominanently citing Randolph Scott's name on the very muted, somber cover. When I bought that DVD set, I had no idea who Boetticher was but did know I was looking for Scott films and chanced on that set. I wonder how many sales were lost as a result of that overlook.

Indicator had the grace and marketing savvy to include the star's name on the Indicator/Boetticher/Scott Blu-ray set. Great looking graphics on that cover and an informative booklet to boot. Indicator also used the original poster graphics for their individual disc covers. Great marketing for that set.
 

Worth

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Twilight Time probably isn't the best example, as they weren't really in it to make money. I remember hearing an interview with Nick Redman where he said they just wanted to get the films they liked out there, and that he was aware that most of what they released would lose money, but counted on one or two hits like Christine or Fright Night to subsidize the rest.
 

jcroy

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Twilight Time probably isn't the best example, as they weren't really in it to make money. I remember hearing an interview with Nick Redman where he said they just wanted to get the films they liked out there, and that he was aware that most of what they released would lose money, but counted on one or two hits like Christine or Fright Night to subsidize the rest.
(On a tangent).

Allegedly this is how record companies were run back in the day.

For every home run like a Michael Jackson or Guns 'N Roses, they would be subsidizing dozens of other artists/bands on a record company's roster which barely break even (or don't ever recover the costs already incurred).
 

tigereyes

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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.
I would love to see The Bg Fisherman In it’s Widescreen glory.
I missed it back in the day.Only ran a week where I lived in the U.K at the time.
 
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OliverK

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I would love to see The Bg Fisherman In it’s Widescreen glory.
I missed it back in the day.Only ran a week where I lived in the U.K at the time.
The Big Fisherman is a very good looking movie - maybe Disney would licence it out as I cannot see themselves doing anything with it.
 
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Nick*Z

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I keep reading a lot of glamorous talk about Uni's asset management program, but the truth of the matter is that even without the layoffs theirs has remained a spotty and uneven track record at best. Their 100th anniversary restoration push aside, how many Uni titles have merely been dumped on third party distributors like Kino with transfers dating back to the infancy of DVD and given zero consideration for an upgrade since. The real tragedy is that Uni knows better and has done better on occasion.

Their Monster Franchise illustrated monumental efforts to save and restore a major part of their studio's heritage. Their work on Hitchcock? Well, we're still waiting for something on The Man Who Knew Too Much - one of Hitch's biggest, and Marnie still looks like its original camera negative was caught in a snow storm. The Abbott and Costello box set was a hodge podge of work done over the last 10 years with only a handful of the titles in that set actually receiving upgraded masters. What was the point to that? Instead of releasing 6 movie compendiums over say 4 years, each given the necessary consideration to be done right the first time, we have the same careworn crap as before, bumped to a 1080p signal.

So, what of the fate of W.C. Fields, Mae West, Deanna Durbin? Don't ask!

The only studios to have done right by their formidable back catalog are Sony and the Warner Archive - each, taking the time to release deep catalog titles that sport remastering efforts they can stand behind and thus continue - primarily and with few licensing exceptions to Criterion, release with pride under their own banner, rather than merely farm them out in a content dump elsewhere.

I've watched TOO many Uni titles where Technicolor mis-registration has rendered the image virtually unwatchable in projection. Releasing a title to disc just to count it among the 'win' column simply to make it 'available' is not the same as asset protection and safe-guarding with due diligence to create a new preservation master that will represent a movie in suitable proximity to its original theatrical release, so that when - one day - the film elements of yore are beyond repair, at least the artistry poured into its creation will not be lost for all time.

Uni hasn't even done right by their more recent catalog. Did anyone see The Paper? A travesty. It didn't have to be. It didn't even need 'restoration'. It just needed a new scan. But no. it arrived to Blu sporting the same tragically flawed image afflicting the DVD. Ditto for Housesitter, Death Becomes Her, and a slew of other recent back catalog that should have - and could have looked a lot better in hi-def.

So, I won't even go into the woeful shortsightedness on deep titles like Tammy and the Bachelor, or Mirage, or For Whom the Bell Tolls, and on and on. I would sooner Uni got off its lump, did the heavy lifting where catalog is concerned, and then release say 20 to 30 titles a year, then just dump a hundred or more at a time on Kino and hope to hell no one with a discerning eye is looking too closely at their lack of foresight.
 

Robert Harris

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I keep reading a lot of glamorous talk about Uni's asset management program, but the truth of the matter is that even without the layoffs theirs has remained a spotty and uneven track record at best. Their 100th anniversary restoration push aside, how many Uni titles have merely been dumped on third party distributors like Kino with transfers dating back to the infancy of DVD and given zero consideration for an upgrade since. The real tragedy is that Uni knows better and has done better on occasion.

Their Monster Franchise illustrated monumental efforts to save and restore a major part of their studio's heritage. Their work on Hitchcock? Well, we're still waiting for something on The Man Who Knew Too Much - one of Hitch's biggest, and Marnie still looks like its original camera negative was caught in a snow storm. The Abbott and Costello box set was a hodge podge of work done over the last 10 years with only a handful of the titles in that set actually receiving upgraded masters. What was the point to that? Instead of releasing 6 movie compendiums over say 4 years, each given the necessary consideration to be done right the first time, we have the same careworn crap as before, bumped to a 1080p signal.

So, what of the fate of W.C. Fields, Mae West, Deanna Durbin? Don't ask!

The only studios to have done right by their formidable back catalog are Sony and the Warner Archive - each, taking the time to release deep catalog titles that sport remastering efforts they can stand behind and thus continue - primarily and with few licensing exceptions to Criterion, release with pride under their own banner, rather than merely farm them out in a content dump elsewhere.

I've watched TOO many Uni titles where Technicolor mis-registration has rendered the image virtually unwatchable in projection. Releasing a title to disc just to count it among the 'win' column simply to make it 'available' is not the same as asset protection and safe-guarding with due diligence to create a new preservation master that will represent a movie in suitable proximity to its original theatrical release, so that when - one day - the film elements of yore are beyond repair, at least the artistry poured into its creation will not be lost for all time.

Uni hasn't even done right by their more recent catalog. Did anyone see The Paper? A travesty. It didn't have to be. It didn't even need 'restoration'. It just needed a new scan. But no. it arrived to Blu sporting the same tragically flawed image afflicting the DVD. Ditto for Housesitter, Death Becomes Her, and a slew of other recent back catalog that should have - and could have looked a lot better in hi-def.

So, I won't even go into the woeful shortsightedness on deep titles like Tammy and the Bachelor, or Mirage, or For Whom the Bell Tolls, and on and on. I would sooner Uni got off its lump, did the heavy lifting where catalog is concerned, and then release say 20 to 30 titles a year, then just dump a hundred or more at a time on Kino and hope to hell no one with a discerning eye is looking too closely at their lack of foresight.
You’re conflating totally different departments within the Universal corporate structure. Home entertainment and IP licensing are not post-production / asset management / preservation.

Each has different purposes and marching orders, and one has little or nothing to do with the other.
 
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Nick*Z

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You’re conflating totally different departments within the Universal corporate structure. Home entertainment and IP licensing are not post-production / asset management / preservation.

Each has different purposes and marching orders, and one has little or nothing to do with the other.
Totally agree. But with all due respect, Robert, there needs to be more cohesion between these departments going into the future, perhaps an appointee of some sort whose sole purpose is to liaise and follow-up on what the right hand is doing to the left, and vice versa. What the world of film in totem needs is better asset management - not more half-baked junk finding its way to market.
 
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Robert Crawford

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Totally agree. But with all due respect, Robert, there needs to be more cohesion between these departments going into the future, perhaps an appointee of some sort whose sole purpose is to liaise and follow-up on what the right hand is doing to the left, and vice versa. What the world of film in totem needs is better asset management - not more half-baked junk finding its way to market.
How can you make that determination from your vantage poin?
 

Nick*Z

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How can you make that determination from your vantage poin?
It's rather transparent, judging by the product alone, that a lot of Uni product is merely getting licensed without getting restored or, in fact, even inspected beforehand.

The 'old' Uni home video logos that immediately precede the feature tell the story of when the master was created. Uni hasn't used the 'multi-colored' globe logo since its 100th anniversary in 2012. But virtually all of their farmed out product to Kino and Arrow sports that old logo before the feature that was their main staple between 1997 and 2006. So, the masters created for the bulk of this product, still being peddled in 2020, hail from those years of remastering efforts, and I think we can concur it was not a great epoch for asset management at Uni.

You can also do comparative analyses of the discs themselves. As example, a quick comparison of Uni's DVD of The Big Clock (1948), released to DVD in 1998 by Universal, and its Blu-ray incarnation from Arrow Academy released in May of 2019, sport the same age-related damage in precisely the same 'frames' (eg. time stamps) as the 1998 DVD.

So, guess what? They've both been derived from the same master. Arrow's claim of a "hi-def transfer from original elements" is moot since the digital files here have come from the same fatally flawed source. So, what you have is not an upgrade, but a regurgitation from one disc format (DVD) to another (Blu-ray) with the only improvement being to overall data transfer because of Blu-ray's higher bit rate. That doesn't equate to improved image quality. It's still the same gunk, now thrice removed from its original source, or, if you prefer - a copy of a copy of a copy. Badly done!

Instead of arranging 'deals' for distribution without first inspecting archival elements to ensure the best possible master is being farmed out, it's basically whatever they have sitting on the shelves currently that is getting slapped to disc. You don't need to be sitting in Uni's executive boardroom to see that. The results are blatantly obvious for anyone with eyes the moment the feature presentation begins!
 
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Robert Harris

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It's rather transparent, judging by the product alone, that a lot of Uni product is merely getting licensed without getting restored or, in fact, even inspected beforehand.

The 'old' Uni home video logos that immediately precede the feature tell the story of when the master was created. Uni hasn't used the 'multi-colored' globe logo since its 100th anniversary in 2012. But virtually all of their farmed out product to Kino and Arrow sports that old logo before the feature that was their main staple between 1997 and 2006. So, the masters created for the bulk of this product, still being peddled in 2020, hail from those years of remastering efforts, and I think we can concur it was not a great epoch for asset management at Uni.

You can also do comparative analyses of the discs themselves. As example, a quick comparison of Uni's DVD of The Big Clock (1948), released to DVD in 1998 by Universal, and its Blu-ray incarnation from Arrow Academy released in May of 2019, sport the same age-related damage in precisely the same 'frames' (eg. time stamps) as the 1998 DVD.

So, guess what? They've both been derived from the same master. Arrow's claim of a "hi-def transfer from original elements" is moot since the digital files here have come from the same fatally flawed source. So, what you have is not an upgrade, but a regurgitation from one disc format (DVD) to another (Blu-ray) with the only improvement being to overall data transfer because of Blu-ray's higher bit rate. That doesn't equate to improved image quality. It's still the same gunk, now thrice removed from its original source, or, if you prefer - a copy of a copy of a copy. Badly done!

Instead of arranging 'deals' for distribution without first inspecting archival elements to ensure the best possible master is being farmed out, its basically whatever they have sitting on the shelves currently that is getting slapped to disc. You don't need to be sitting in Uni's executive boardroom to see that. The results are blatantly obvious for anyone with eyes the moment the feature presentation begins!
Once again, the age of masters, restored / unrestored, whatever, has nothing to do with the inner workings of the post/pres/rest arena, and what other divisions are doing with them.

The sort of liaison that you’d like to see, even as people are losing their employment, has been in place, but in special circumstances, ie the 75th Anniversary of Jaws et al.

But in normal situations, you’re merely viewing licensing deals made with no respect to elements. These are merely lines of IP on a printout, which does not affect the budgetary restraints or work of other divisions within the studio.

How would you interrelate IP licensing for sale in theme parks, with the condition of original nitrate negatives, as Woody Woodpecker coffee cups pass over a sales counter, and the quality of the original imagery that emblazons said cup, in comparison to Woody’s three-strip appearance?

Is the printing on those cups proper to the original three-strip technology?
 

jcroy

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(As an aside).

Some of us hardcore ethusiast types who are not insiders, completely believe we know how to run a movie company (or giant corporate conglomerate) better than the current C-level suite of executives "fools". ;)

:dancing-banana-04:
 
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Worth

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It's rather transparent, judging by the product alone, that a lot of Uni product is merely getting licensed without getting restored or, in fact, even inspected beforehand.

The 'old' Uni home video logos that immediately precede the feature tell the story of when the master was created. Uni hasn't used the 'multi-colored' globe logo since its 100th anniversary in 2012. But virtually all of their farmed out product to Kino and Arrow sports that old logo before the feature that was their main staple between 1997 and 2006. So, the masters created for the bulk of this product, still being peddled in 2020, hail from those years of remastering efforts, and I think we can concur it was not a great epoch for asset management at Uni.

You can also do comparative analyses of the discs themselves. As example, a quick comparison of Uni's DVD of The Big Clock (1948), released to DVD in 1998 by Universal, and its Blu-ray incarnation from Arrow Academy released in May of 2019, sport the same age-related damage in precisely the same 'frames' (eg. time stamps) as the 1998 DVD.

So, guess what? They've both been derived from the same master. Arrow's claim of a "hi-def transfer from original elements" is moot since the digital files here have come from the same fatally flawed source. So, what you have is not an upgrade, but a regurgitation from one disc format (DVD) to another (Blu-ray) with the only improvement being to overall data transfer because of Blu-ray's higher bit rate. That doesn't equate to improved image quality. It's still the same gunk, now thrice removed from its original source, or, if you prefer - a copy of a copy of a copy. Badly done!

Instead of arranging 'deals' for distribution without first inspecting archival elements to ensure the best possible master is being farmed out, it's basically whatever they have sitting on the shelves currently that is getting slapped to disc. You don't need to be sitting in Uni's executive boardroom to see that. The results are blatantly obvious for anyone with eyes the moment the feature presentation begins!
It's a lose-lose proposition for the studios. Take the Universal or MGM approach of licencing or releasing older masters, and they're criticized for not making new transfers. Take the Warner approach of only releasing new transfers and they're criticized for sitting on their catalogue. Personally, I'd rather have a less than pristine release than none at all, or a perfect one a decade down the road. I'm glad that companies like Kino are releasing discs like The Last Valley - yes, it looks like a battered print that would have played a repertory theatre in the 1980s, but it's still better than the old DVD, and at least it's out there for those of us who want it. Those who feel it's sub-standard are under no obligation to purchase it.
 

jcroy

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Instead of arranging 'deals' for distribution without first inspecting archival elements to ensure the best possible master is being farmed out, it's basically whatever they have sitting on the shelves currently that is getting slapped to disc. You don't need to be sitting in Uni's executive boardroom to see that. The results are blatantly obvious for anyone with eyes the moment the feature presentation begins!
One can also ask whether Universal's executives even give a damn about this.

They don't even have to lift a finger, when it comes to licensing deals. The licensing cash comes in, independent of whether the third party boutique sells any bluray copies or not.

Just sit back with their feet on the table and smoking cigars, while the cash comes in without having to do much of anything.

:emoji_cocktail:
:emoji_alembic:
 

jcroy

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Those who feel it's sub-standard are under no obligation to purchase it.
This is absolute big giant elephant in the room! ;)

If we think a third party released title on bluray is substandard or absolute shit, we have the absolute right to not buy it at all.

This is the big thing than many hardcore enthusiasts and other nerdy/geeky types, do not understand at an emotional gut level. Especially when one has a "ocd" monkey on their back constantly yelling "buy! buy! buy!", while our logical brain is saying "the picture quality is crap".
 

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