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Warner Archive Discussion Thread (FEEDBACK)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by CineKarine, Mar 21, 2009.

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  1. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Producer

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    Those foreign film collections are (or were) good...but they're the exception rather than the rule for the studio.
     
  2. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    I did not see this posted, so here is some fascinating news:

    NYPost Article 11/18/09

    "DVD Extra: Warner Archive gets some remastering"

    "Some of the early Warner Archive releases should not have been put out because of the quality,'' admits Warner Home Video's George Feltenstein, who says the studio has set a "higher bar for quality'' because of fan complaints. "We've rejected a lot of things we planned to release, like 'Lucky Night' with Robert Taylor and Mryna Loy, which has a very shaky image,'' he says. The original concept of the Warner Archive was to use existing digital masters used for TV and VHS to make a large number of films -- more than 350 so far -- available on demand that wouldn't have supported a regular commercial DVD release. "Now we're going to do some re-mastering on a small group of films, and hopefully more if we can get the budget,'' Feltenstein says. (There are a number of widescreen Warner Bros. films from the '50s and '60s, like "The Chapman Report,'' that presently exist only in old pan-and-scan transfers and would have to be redone in letterbox).

    He is particularly keen on the "beautiful'' new high-def master for Roy Rowland's "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes'' (1945) with Margaret O'Brien, one of a group of Edward G. Robinson movies that became available yesterday at warnerachive.com. (The others are Raoul Walsh's rousing "Manpower'' with Marlene Dietrich and George Raft; Howard Hawks' "Tiger Shark,'' Mervyn LeRoy's fascinating "Two Seconds'' with Mary Astor; "The Man With Two Faces,'' from a play by Alexander Wollcott and George S. Kaufman; and "The Last Gangster'' with a moustachioed James Stewart). Coming up from the Archive is a remastered version of Michael Curtiz' "Mammy'' with Al Jolson, complete with restored Technicolor sequences. "That one looks good enough for Blu-ray,'' he says. For those "myopic individuals'' griping that WHV is focusing its resources away from regular DVD releases to Archive releases and Blu-gray upgrades, Feltenstein says "we have a very robust schedule planned for both regular DVD and the Archive. I think people are going to be pleased.'' The studio has already announced a 10-title fifth volume for its film noir series for 2010, as as well as another Errol Flynn set (the latter will not include "Santa Fe Trail,'' which is being photochemically restored after long-missing original elements were discovered). Over at the Archive, Feltenstein promises more titles featuring stars who haven't been well represented so far -- James Cagney, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and Wallace Beery. Sales for the relative handful of TV movies and mini-series released so far "blew everyone away. We had our best month yet in October. I have found some stuff nobody even knows about. There was a series called 'Conflict' that Warners made for ABC in the '50s, with a lot of stars in remakes of old movies, like Natalie Wood in a version of 'Pretty Baby.' '' One of the big vintage titles bowing on Blu-ray -- within the next six months, Felteinstein says -- is George Cukor's 1954 version of "A Star is Born'' with Judy Garland. "It's an extraordinary presentation, with a lot of exciting extras,'' he says. Felsteinstein confirmed our earlier report that the extras include a remastered version of William Wellman's classic 1937 version. But not Cukor's "What Price Hollywood,'' which is considered a precursor. "We considered it, but there wasn't space and it truly isn't a version of the same story.''
     
  3. jdee28

    jdee28 Screenwriter

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    It's nice to hear Warner finally addressing the quality issue. It sounds like there is hope for the program; but they have a long, long way to go.

    One thing I wish they'd address is why the price of these discs have not been adjusted for quality. Why does a remastered film cost exactly the same as an unremastered one? Why not lower the price for the unremastered ones, as a concession to their low quality?

    George Feltenstein's quote that "Some of the early Warner Archive releases should not have been put out because of the quality'' is big. But what are they going to do about those low quality films? Do a recall, issue refunds, lower prices? Remaster some of them? It's nice that they're going to try and not do this in the future and have a "higher bar for quality," but what about the past? Those older discs are still there, being sold.

    And as far as the future goes, remastering a handful of titles is nice, but it's akin to battling a forest fire with a tablespoon of water, as it sounds like most of the titles they release will continue to be "the best quality available," which for most of the films of the 30s, 40s and 50s is a far, far cry from meeting today's HD standards.

    And as far as the remastering goes, if I hadn't read this article, I would have had no idea that "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" has been remastered. Why not advertise it more? Why not make it crystal clear on the website which titles have been digitally remastered and which have not? Why the big secret?

    The Warner Archive is just too ahead of its time. They should not have launched it without having in place some standard of quality that could be applied to each and every film. They should have waited until the technology was there, technology that assured that each and every film was given at least a new digital telecine. Perhaps they could have profited too from waiting for better web technology, technology that allows for a smoother operating, easily updated website. They jumped the gun, and now they're suffering the growing pains that go with it.
     
  4. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    I agree with you. This is a program that I would love to get behind in theory, but it should not have been launched so prematurely.

    While it does seem very promising that Warners are now addressing the quality issues (and it appears as though rival studios like Universal have forced them to do so with their own vault program) they still have not addressed what's to become of those earlier titles. I've asked this question before and I'm not sure if anyone truly knows the answer, but what about those early releases that were not even progressively scanned? Have those been corrected with more recent pressings? What about int'l shipping and at the very least, Canadian consumers? Price points are still iffy, and what Warners ought to do is offer some sort of Columbia House like program, where members could order "x" amount of titles per month/year at significant discount or member's price, and with an obligation to fulfill a purchase of at least 10 titles within a 12 month period. Or similarly adjusted. I would also like to see a section on their website that clearly indicates the titles that have undergone restorartion, and would hope that those which haven't, were offered at discounted rates as the pricing still does not reflect the cost and resources going into these releases. Continual flat offers like buy 2 and get any 3rd DVD at fifty-percent off when selecting genre titles, or those by the same actors or directors would encourage me to spend some more time on their website as well. Offering the option to customize bundle packs by star and director names would also be added incentive. My biggest gripe is the way in which Warners have set the bar with this series, which could have been something great. While it's nice to know that they're rethinking certain aspects of the way in which they are running the program, until these earlier issues are addressed more clearly I cannot get behind it. And I will still not ever pay $20 + s/h for a DVD-R. The pricing structure needs to be fixed to reflect the product being sold. It's a step in the right direction for sure, but until then...
     
  5. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    What surprises me is that he said the Archive is "blowing people away". Maybe that's just studio PR but if true, at least the burn-on-demand concept isn't tanking out of the gate.

    While I agree that the program needs to be adjusted, to me, there's no doubt that, given the age of the (SD) DVD format and the # of titles that haven't been released, most of the Archive titles wouldn't have seen a widespread pressed release anyway so it's the only way without waiting for a TCM or other network release, to get these titles to the private collector.
     
  6. RUrahrah

    RUrahrah Stunt Coordinator

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    The article posted in RICHARD M S's Forum item #2953 is MUST READING for all Forum members.

    Next, who knows? With this news I'm confident that MY future Warner Archive purchases will continue to enhance my collection, always remembering from 30 years experience of home video purchases that 'remastered' and 'restored' are rarely synonymous. But something better is always better. After crawling comes walking. Next, who knows.
     
  7. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

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    If they're not gonna do value packs, then I can't afford purchasing Warner Archives. I'm very disenchanted with them if that's the case.
     
  8. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

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    I liked hearing about a new Errol Flynn set (even if not part of the archives). I have an old PD version of "Santa Fe Trail" and would like to see that get a decent treatment.
     
  9. shoeshineboy

    shoeshineboy Second Unit

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    Sorry, but actors like Flynn, Grant, Davis, Cagney and Robinson would have been able sustain standard pressed DVD releases and not this knock-off version - in fact, their catalogue has helped Warners and their rivals make a lot of money over the years. Another Gangsters boxset would have been a big moneymaker, as were the previous editions. Right now because their investment into the final release product is lessened, they can say their profits are greater. But don't try and sell their lame quick-buck program by telling me either that these movies would never see the light of day otherwise, or that there is no market for it.
    The archive market place is actually smaller -- lower standard, no real and consistent price break (so just as expensive as standard dvd) and virtually no foreign market.
     
  10. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    This is true, and unlike a few years back when the market was flooded with classic releases from Warners, Fox, Criterion, the smaller independants and boutique labels and even studios like MGM and Universal were dumping out more product -- there's virtually no competition for retail shelf space these days as all the product has dried up and the studios are cutting back. More pressed discs of Cagney, Robinson, Davis and the other major stars in cost-value collector sets as had once been the set standard for the studio would indeed be sufficient capital for WHV and help pull us all out of this rut for classic film on DVD.
     
  11. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    I suspect that one of the reasons for an increase in the WA budget to raise that quality bar has something to do with the better than expected sales.
     
  12. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    Where is the announcement for the Film Noir volume 5 that the article says has already been made? What titles are included?

    As for the archive, I'm please that they're admitting to the quality problems, and while I think it's foolish to expect every title to be restored and remastered, I would be much more likely to dip my toes in the water if they simply added a field to each title explaining the age of the transfer and implementing a pricing scale to justify the continued sale of older transfers.

    On the other hand, I'm disturbed by comments that the Value-Packs have disappeared. There are very few titles that I'm willing to pay $20 for at this point in the game and if they ever want me as a regular customer, they're going to have to do better. In the meantime, I've been scrambling to pick up as many of their past releases that I previously passed on. For those interested, many of them are on sale at Amazon for less than $6 (with extras!!)
     
  13. VelvetVampire

    VelvetVampire Auditioning

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    Hello Noirists

    The titles for Volume 5 are

    Cornered/ Desperate
    Phenix City Story/ Dial 1119
    Armored Car Robbery/ Crime in the Streets
    Deadline at Dawn/ Backfire (1950)


    Cool, huh?
     
  14. Paul Penna

    Paul Penna Supporting Actor

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  15. Mike_Richardson

    Mike_Richardson Supporting Actor

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    The transfer on UNDER THE RAINBOW is unquestionably horrible -- the worst of all the WB Archive titles I've seen to date (even worse than ONE ON ONE). Granted I've been buying mostly movies from the '60s onwards, but buyer beware -- it's really poor, and I've liked the great deal of Archive titles I've purchased.
     
  16. wesaussie

    wesaussie Stunt Coordinator

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    Does anybody know if they have fixed the surround sound problem on " The Big Circus" yet?
     
  17. wesaussie

    wesaussie Stunt Coordinator

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    Does anybody know if they have fixed the surround sound problem on " The Big Circus" yet?
     
  18. Livius

    Livius Second Unit

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  19. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    I am excited about those titles in the Film Noir box, but in the article I posted a few days ago, George Feltenstein said there would be 10 titles, not 8.
     
  20. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    I thought The Devil Thumbs A Ride and Stranger On The Third Floor were supposed to be included as well from early info that leaked out... It was indeed supposed to be 10 titles.

    Btw, why is this in the Archive thread? It's not a VOD release is it?!?
     

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