Upon news of Universal's "An American Tail" series, technical feedback for the studio

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Bill Burns, Oct 24, 2003.

  1. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    It was recently mentioned in the Software Forum (where some of this has also been posted) that An American Tail and An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West will be presented, on disc, in open matte/P&S only (other upcoming releases from the studio, detailed in dedicated threads here and there, were also named). If this is so, allow me to say (and please reference the latter portion of these comments for much-deserved praise of Universal in other areas) that I am very disappointed that these charming theatrical pictures (the latter of which features a wonderful vocal performance by James Stewart) won't be 16x9 formatted OAR. The direct-to-video sequels are, of course, correct in 4x3, but the theatrical films are not. Universal also released Balto to DVD in open matte/P&S only, and that title was OAR on laser (I'm unsure about the American Tails). I won't buy MAR (modified aspect ratio) releases, and by issuing these "fullscreen," Universal also deprives us of the resolution gains in 16x9 formatting.

    I give the studio great credit for finally issuing Babe not only in 16x9 widescreen, but with a commentary by writer/producer (and director of the sequel) George Miller. That's a great release. [​IMG] I'm not as bothered by the forced trailers as some; there are forced trailers in a movie theatre, too. You can fast forward through them (or at least I can, with the jog wheel on my remote). 16x9 + commentary = praiseworthy.

    But now, after failing to offer Balto in a definitive form, the two theatrical American Tails are looking as if they'll be short-shrifted as well. That's a shame. I'd have purchased both in 16x9, even without supplements, but certainly will not buy them, or anything else, "modified to fit 4x3 screens."

    I enjoy Universal's product, and the studio was a tremendous force early in the DVD format (their SEs, while steeply priced, set a standard in their day, and their Ultimate Edition offerings today continue to impress). Their recent double and triple-feature discs have also set a wonderful standard, in this case for price-friendly, quality classic film presentations on disc. I very much hope to see those lines continue (they include, to date, terrific works from the likes of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Burns & Allen, and others). I'm very vocal in my praise of what Universal has done, and continues to do, right, and in some cases continues to do better than just about any other studio. [​IMG] But if we haven't established that every theatrical film deserves an OAR release, and a 16x9 formatted one (for all films that are intended for wide presentation; the pixel count says that 16x9 formatting benefits anything wider than 1.5:1 or so, if I recall, but in practical film terms that means all movies 1.66:1 and wider) to properly use the potential of the format ... well, we have established that, and the first point (OAR) was actually established by Criterion by the late 80's/early 90's.

    I hope Universal revisits these fine animated films in the future, 16x9 formatted:

    1. An American Tail
    2. An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West
    3. Balto
    4. The Land Before Time

    And live action gems such as Fierce Creatures, as well.
     
  2. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Universal has been pretty useless since their wave of classic westerns. Since then, they've done almost nothing right, as they've really done almost nothing at all! And now this pan-and-scan travesty... AMERICAN TAIL was never released OAR on laser, but FIEVEL GOES WEST was and, as you pointed out, BALTO. This is blatant disregard for family titles - as though no adult movie fan could ever possibly want to see "cartoons" in their proper aspect ratio. The business of telling us that families want full screen is merely a self-fulfilling prophecy over at Wal*Mart and their ilk. Kids, who are so much smarter than most of their parents, DON'T MIND WIDESCREEN ONE BIT!!!! Why do we have to keep begging studios to do the obvious and put their precious cropped crap on one side for the vacuous adults who hate black bars, and the proper transfer on the other side (or second layer) so that we animation aficionados and their children can view the film as intended. Damn, I'm sick of this ignorance.
     
  3. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I've given up on buying Universal titles. Too many titles have had problems, and the forced trailers are unacceptable.
     
  4. Eugene Esterly

    Eugene Esterly Supporting Actor

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    Universal,

    You must release theatrical movies on DVD in their OAR. If you release titles on DVD in MAR, I will not purchase them. American Tail & American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West must be presented on DVD in anamorphic Widescreen. If the American Tail movies are presented in MAR, then you have lost my dollars.

    Also Universal, re-release Land Before Time on DVD in anamorphic Widescreen. 4:3 is ok for diect to video movies but American Tail, American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West & Land Before Time are theatrical movies which means that they must be presented on DVD in OAR.
     
  5. Sarah S

    Sarah S Second Unit

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    Though I don't usually go for double dips, I would not mind buying Babe again, even if the only change from the original disc was the OAR format.

    Universal is not getting my money for
    *An Amerincan Tail
    *An American Tail 2: Fieval Goes West
    *Balto
    *Land Before TIme

    until these are released OAR. Take a page from MGM and Warner: swallow your pride and release these movies in their proper aspect ratio and your sales can only increase.
     
  6. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Sarah, I'm not sure from your post, but in the event you weren't aware of it, Universal also includes a commentary with writer/producer (and director of the sequel) George Miller on the new 16x9 formatted OAR presentation of Babe (the studio has release separate 4x3 SE and a 16x9 SE versions, I believe with the same supplements, so be sure to look for "Widescreen Special Edition" in the banner on the top of the front cover). There's a brief video segment for the special effects, and also a video intro by Miller. With DD and DTS on one disc, it's an excellent value. There are some who find the forced trailers irksome, but the jog wheel on my Sony remote scoots right past them in a few seconds -- something I can't do in a movie theatre! (well, I haven't actually tried it in a movie theatre, in point of fact, but ...). [​IMG] I highly recommend the disc.
     
  7. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Yes, I'm sure that six posts in this thread over a 30-day period are surely gonna impress the Universal exec's.[​IMG]
     
  8. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    This practice of open matte/pan&scan only for any widescreen movie by Universal has got to STOP!!!

    I would have bought Balto in Widescreen and DTS as well as The Land Before Time and An American Tail, but now...

    NO SALE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Dan
     
  9. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    I loved American Tail as a kid and was truly looking forward to getting it when it comes out on DVD, but I won't buy titles that aren't OAR. And I watch all my movies on a 25" TV that was purchased back in 1988!

    The point is, I want to share these movies with my children, when I have them, and by then my set will be significantly upgraded! :)
     

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