Why does MGM feel 2nd best is good enough?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Mark Anthony, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

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    The reports of the Bergman box set fiasco, and the subsequent release delay to re-transfer at least 2 out of the 3 affected titles - brought about in no small part due to a couple of HTF contributors - made me wonder why MGM feels that they can get away with sub-par dvd's in general.
    Had we not kicked up a fuss, this would be another MGM dvd to not bother purchasing.

    Every major studio such as Warner, Fox, Paramount, Columbia et al seems to be producing, in the main, flawless releases in terms of transfer quality of decades old films - everyone bar MGM.

    For example the recent R2 Pink Panther Box Set, which should be available in the US shortly, has a magnificent picture transfer - sharp, colourful and too my eyes accurate, but they seem to have applied very little - if any digital clean-up - therefore practically every frame has white sparklies or dust - which can be easily eliminated - all their competitors do, even small companies like Criterion - so why not MGM?

    And the Pink panther is no exception - most of their catalogue titles seem similarly affected by dust - the Magnificent seven especially complete with bad colour changes at reel marker points.

    Their 5.1 re-mixes of mono tracks also don't seem to be as good as others - whether it's the elements they are supplying, or cheap mixing studio's with poor technology - but again the Pink panther, Mag 7, Great escape to name but a few 5.1 re-mixes are essentially mono, with no real sound seperation - if they are going to bother doing it - why not do it properly - micasa studio's seem to be able to achieve good results?

    Similarly they release pan & scan editions, when widescreen masters are available and consider it ok to release titles such as Exodus and Thief in lousy non-anamorphic editions, not to mention Khartoum - which has been cropped from a 65mm 2.76:1 to a 35mm 2.35:1...

    Not to mention letting classics such as It's a mad, mad....world and The Alamo rot into oblivion when the money spent on restoration and reconstruction would be
    re-couped in international dvd sales.

    Is it me, or despite improving over the years are MGM still very much a 2nd tier dvd company, with a long way to go to compete with Warner, Fox etc?

    M
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    It is my speculation based on talks I have had
    with people within the Industry that DVD has
    become so mainstream that *some* studios just
    don't care as much as they once did about the
    quality of product going onto the format.

    I also assume that MGM just doesn't have the
    kind of money the other studios have to do
    resoration work. I mean, if It's A Mad,
    Mad, Mad, Mad World
    belonged to any other
    studio there would have been a full-blown
    restoration done of the roadshow version by now.
     
  3. Eric Emma

    Eric Emma Supporting Actor

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    Very Interesting, and so ironic. You think we be recieving better products since more people are buying the format but now companies can get away with second rate products... Ah how the world is funny [​IMG]
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I talked with a good friend who keeps track
    of this business, and we both sort of agreed
    that many studios are starting to treat the
    DVD format as if it was VHS.
     
  5. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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    I wouldn't be so quick to praise Columbia TriStar after their abysmal treatment of Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu (close to VHS quality, with no extras, selling for 30 bucks each).

    But I do think you have a point. Personally, I think the Bergman problem represents poor quality control. I don't think MGM intentionally transferred Hour of the Wolf and Shame in the wrong aspect ratios. They either didn't do their homework or didn't closely supervise the folks doing the transfers. Either way, it doesn't speak highly of their QC process.
     
  6. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    It's been happening for a while. DVD is nothing more than a mass-market consumer product, the same as a CD. There is nothing special about it.
     
  7. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

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    True enough. But the smart studios know that the ignorant consumer will always buy something no matter what the quality. The savvy consumer won't. So why not cover the entire consumer market and put out a good product thereby increasing your profit potential?

    I would argue that every studio will make an effort to release a high quality DVD when they think there's a market for it. Just look at West Side Story. MGM put out a great Special Edition and a pan and scan version. So it seems that these decisions are made more on a basis of return versus cost . I wouldn't leap to the conclusion that they have a disdain for the quality of their releases. They probably just don't see a reason to spend the money for the kind of releases that most of us would like to see. It always comes down to money. The fact is, most people aren't buying DVDs for the quality of the picture and sound. And so while it would be nice if every studio took care with their DVDs, some will not feel it's worth it for whatever reason.

    Personally, I think they're shooting themselves in the foot. I think they're going to see their market share slowly shrink over time. People will eventually catch on. Especially as widescreen televisions begin to flood the market and consumers become more aware. Still, it hurts that early adopters of the DVD format are becoming less and less the target audience for the major studios. Thank goodness for the ones that have people at the helm that believe they should treat their movies with a little respect and not just solely as a way to make money.
     
  8. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    Let me just say, God I love New Line. I feel better now, how about you guys?
     
  9. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Yeah, the biggest "We think of DVD as VHS" culprits now are MGM, Columbia and Disney, although all three often (less so Columbia) still turn out remarkable products.
     
  10. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Screenwriter

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    I don't buy too many MGM releases. They have been getting better. You only have to watch the great new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Special Edition to tell. Every studio has an occasional mess up, except for maybe Dreamworks and New Line. And Disney has done an excellent job of giving us widescreen transfers on thier recent titles.
     
  11. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

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    We all knew it was going to happen, that when our little hobby got out into the mainstream, it would go down hill. Such a shame, too.
     
  12. Eric Emma

    Eric Emma Supporting Actor

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    So what's next to hop on before that becomes mainstream [​IMG]
     
  13. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    I don't think our habit is going downhill at all, quite the contrary. This thread was started about MGM in particular screwing up some classics, but other studios are doing a great job, as Mark Anthony pointed out. Warners alone is putting out ass-kicking SEs of Hollywood classics faster than I can keep up with them.
     
  14. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    So what are they buying them for? Size? People -even those who only occasionally watch movies- can see and hear a difference in PQ and sound.
     
  15. Todd Phillips

    Todd Phillips Second Unit

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    For the movie. DVDs are cheaper on the whole than VHS and it's harder to find VHS now.
     
  16. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    Edwin...probably the price, and to see the movie. It's now "the way" to see movies in your home...not looked at by most as higher quality than VHS.
     
  17. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    ^ Guess I didn't look at it from that perspective. I bought into DVD for three reasons:

    1)proper presentation
    2)sound quality
    3)picture quality

    Price does come into it but not to the extent of the first three reasons.

    Numbers two and three might as well be interchangeable in the order: they are both equally important.
     
  18. Anthony Neilson

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    I do seem to remember, though, that back at the beginning, MGM were pretty good. They were putting out much better product than Warner's, that's for sure, and they were the first studio to really embrace the Special Edition format.
    They still do put out some good editions but - over here, at least - they seem to have gone for the budget market. They put out a lot of bare-bones discs, with adequate but not brilliant transfers, but sell them cheap.
     
  19. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    I'm not so sure about that. I think a decent proportion of the DVD buying public do appreciate that the picture is better, doesn't degrade and that the sound can come at them from all angles. Another big selling point of DVD is the convenience - you can jump around to various points in the film, you can use the subs if you want and there's those "cool behind the scenes things".

    These inexpensive 5.1 "in a box" systems are now getting very popular over here because for £200 people can get 'cinema sound'. OK, it's not going to compare against the kind of systems people on HTF have, but for 'normal' people it's perfectly adequate. A lot of people are starting to recognise this and this is why VHS is dying off.

    Plus there is another humungous point now - you can buy a DVD player for £40 and it doubles up as a CD player and works just fine.

    DVD is a mass-market consumer product and us, the film collectors - the afficianados, are in the minority.
     
  20. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I agree, Rob.

    With the exception of studios like Warner,
    New Line, Fox and Paramount there has been
    a noticeable decline in respect given to film
    presentation and supplement.

    We will continue to remain the minority here
    until Hi-Def is introduced. At that point, you
    will once again see the studios paying a lot of
    attention to the early adopters and forums like
    this.
     

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