In the modern age of streaming video, can we now please get rid of trailers on DVDs before the film so I don’t completely ditch the format?
While siting down to watch a DVD last night, I was rather annoyed by the concept of having to skip through some trailers. While not anywhere close to being as annoying as the days of VHS, it’s still just a nuisance.
Studios are concerned about declining home video sales, but yet they continue to make watching discs an inconvenience. When I pop in a disc, I’m forced to go through the trailers. Not a horrible thing to once, but lets say you go back to watch the same disc a year or two down the road, are you going to care about seeing the same trailers again, or especially what amounts to advertisements for movies from a few years ago? Short answer, no.
With the rise of digital downloads and streaming video, things that start instantly, why should I be force to even think about trailers any more? Yes, I know it’s a minor thing, but considering I watch almost everything via download or streaming now, so when I popped in that disc last night, the first in quite some time, I was just immediately struck by how antiquated this was. If you insist on putting them on the disc, put them in the extra features or something, but when I start up a Blu-ray or DVD, I should be immediately launched into the menu and not have to fight my way to get there.
With that being said, I’ll go back to watching Netflix now, thanks. If you want to dump the trailers, let me know.
About five years ago I wrote a post about how stripped down DVDs really tick me off. Some of the examples I pointed to was how Northern Exposure and Quantum Leap seasons had been released without their original music, both shows that relied heavily on songs to set the tone, because studios didn’t want to pay for the music rights. Well … the music rights problem is just getting worse.
From 2006 to 2009, Broadway Video released a season of Saturday Night Live a year, except for 2008 which had two releases. Every December you could count on another season of the show popping up, and for me they were coming out at just the right pace so as they didn’t break the bank. The first five seasons were my priority because they had the strongest writing, but I planned to continue as I am a life-long fan of the show, even in the terrible seasons (even the horrible Julia Louis-Dreyfus seasons of 1982 to 1985). However, there is no season six coming out this year, so I looked around for some info.
… stupid music rights.
It appears that the cost of including the musical performances in each season has just gotten to where Broadway Video can no longer afford to release them. Series producer Lorne Michaels feels that the music is as important as the sketches, and I can’t say I disagree, so it was decided to bring the season sets to and end.
While this saddens me won’t get to the prime Eddie Murphy years, or the always fabulous Phil Hartman/Jan Hooks sketches, I tip my hat to Broadway Video for sticking to its guns of releasing the shows in their complete form. Many other shows have just passed over the music to get something out of it, and this has left consumers with inferior products.
I’ve also been waiting on the third season of Third Watch, and it apparently is also being held up as the studio tries to work out music licensing issues.
My question is why music companies want so much for their music? Unfortunately these shows were all around before DVD sets really took off, so home video releases weren’t covered in the original licensing. Now, instead of getting at least something for the music, it appears record labels are asking for more than they would if it had been settled at the outset, so everyone loses due to good old greed. You either get a product that is not in its original form, so the record labels lose, or you get no product at all and that causes the video companies, the record labels and the consumers to all lose.
I’m not saying that the music labels should just give their work away, but at least take a reduced rate. The argument could be made on the Saturday Night Live sets that people are buying it for the music because there have been some famous performances (Simon & Garfunkel reuniting, Elvis Costello changing songs after his ban had already started), but do you think anyone is picking up Third Watch for the music? No, they aren’t. So, instead of getting at least something for the music, the companies want the full boat and everyone loses.
Wake up record labels, you can have a dollar, or you can have nothing. It’s your call.
So, I finally watched Transformers Revenge of the Fallen … what the hell was that mess?
The plot, what there was of it, was just beyond silly, and since it has already been ravaged just about everywhere you could think of, I thought I would just address the total disconnects from logic that happened.
Demolisher was destroyed in China
It seems that there were at least two of each Constructicon, which makes absolutely no sense. Demolisher was the name of the big Decepticon destroyed in China, yet he shows up in Egypt to help form Devestator.
During the Devestator fight, there are also Constructicons in the foot battle in the village. Mix Master (cement truck), Long Haul (green dump truck) and Rampage (bulldozer) are in both places at the same time. Either there were two of each Constructicon (which nothing like that has ever happened anywhere in Transformers history with the exception of Generation 1 Decepticon planes, but each of them had different names and color schemes), or it is a total continuity error. Yes, I realize it costs money for each new computer model, but come on, this was a bit obvious.
What happened to Wheelie?
Wheelie, the little blue RC truck, is with everyone when Jetfire forms the Space Bridge to Egypt. You see him in Egypt when they arrive … and then he is never seen or mentioned again. He plays an important part through the first two acts of the film, and then in the third act he is just dropped like a hot potato to never be heard from again. Nice.
Okay … I lied … lets look at some of the script issues.
Does Leo Spitz serve any purpose?
Near as I can figure the character of Leo Spitz served only as comic relief and an excuse to get Sam and Mikaela back together with Simmons. This could have been accomplished with Sam looking up info on the Web and stumbling across Simmons’ Web site. Leo could have been completely eliminated from the script and you wouldn’t have missed a minute of plot development.
The National Security Agency character was totally unneeded.
Theodore Galloway, the American National Security Advisor, is another character that could have been totally eliminated. Replace him with General Morshower reluctantly conveying messages from the White House and you gain even more script space. I think Michael Bay just always likes to have an annoying government character around to aggravate people.
Was I supposed to fear The Fallen?
He ran around for a few minutes, said some menacing things … got his ass kicked. The whole movie was named for him and he was a total joke.
Why did the Twins change vehicle modes in the opening minutes?
Skids and Mudflap were the combined ice cream truck in China, they get home and immediately scan into new vehicle modes … why? If anything screamed “lets add some more toys to the movie!”, this was it.
Sam tells Bumblebee he no longer needs a guardian
Sam walks into the garage and tells Bumblebee he no longer needs a guardian … while fireman are still extinguishing the fires from the fight Bumblebee just had with several mini-Decepticons that Sam yelled for him to protect him from. Yep … all the danger is gone … because the firemen are right outside … where Mikaela is changing clothes …
Michael Bay has the memory of a gnat
Oh, wait, it’s just that he thinks his audience has no capability to remember anything five seconds after it happened.
There really are an endless stream of things you can say negatively about this movie, but what’s the point? It made over $800 million worldwide, pre-production has started on the third film with Mr. Bay still in charge, so what does it all matter? It will just be another giant suckfest.
As I’ve said before, I don’t care if movies totally disconnect from reality so long as they don’t do stupid things that insult the audience’s intelligence. Disappearing characters, jumps in a film’s own established logic, etc are what irk me, and that is Mr. Bay in just about everything he does.
Netflix has struck a deal with Warner Home Video to delay renting the studios latest releases for 28 days after initial release. This is due to the fact that DVD sales fell 13% in 2008 while rental revenues increased thanks to companies like Redbox. The deal includes the benefits for Netflix of purchasing copies of the films at a lower price so the company can stock newer films in greater depth, and Warners also agreed to allow more of its library to be streamed over the company’s Watch Instantly streaming movie service.
Netflix has made many comments over how it plans to focus more heavily on its streaming service as the company spends over $600 million a year in postage as opposed to a streaming film costing them only $.05 in bandwidth costs. Netflix CEO Reid Hastings has also stated that new releases from all suppliers only account for 30% of the company’s mail-order rental volume at any given time.
Well, leave it to the Internet to get all up in arms over this deal. MG Siegler wrote a story over at TechCrunch entitled Netflix Stabs Us In The Heart So Hollywood Can Drink Our Blood which makes me wonder if he is a card carrying drama queen. While Mr. Siegler is but one man, many people on blogs and Twitter have expressed their outrage over this deal, with many of them even claiming they would cancel their subscriptions with the company.
Okay, what is wrong with the world when I’m the one saying this is not a big deal?
I have been known to rant about the silliest of subjects, but I don’t get the uproar about this at all. You aren’t going to be forced to go and buy these movies just because you can’t rent them the day they come out, you can just wait four weeks and rent them then. If the movie was that important for you to see, why didn’t you see it in the theater? How will waiting four more weeks to see a movie on DVD really impact your life in any meaningful way? It won’t. So you wait four weeks … big freakin’ whoop.
Instead of getting to rent a movie on Nov. 2nd, you rent it on Nov. 30th and you still don’t buy a copy. Are you saying that you are that impatient to see a movie (that was already in theaters) that this four week rental delay will cause you to run out and buy a copy? Are you dying? Will you not be alive those 28 days later? (well, yeah, okay, there was that horror movie 28 Days Later, but what are the odds of that happening?)
The only salient point Mr. Siegler makes in his 1400+ word opus on the matter (I put it into a word counter as I couldn’t believe the length) is that there may be an uptick in online piracy. However, somehow I don’t see that many new people learning how to run a BitTorrent client just because the newest movie has been delayed again by a measly four weeks. Do you realize how many people don’t even know, or care, what the release date of a DVD is? The vast majority of people won’t even notice this, and if they see a movie on the sale rack at Best Buy, then try to add it to the Netflix queue, it will still be added, they just won’t get it right away and they still won’t notice the difference!
Mr. Siegler keeps saying how this is a bad deal for the Netflix customers. How? A company that he professes love for just cut its costs meaning it can have a healthier bottom line, you get more selection of films on its streaming service and they increase their copy depth when they do eventually get the movie meaning less chance of you having to wait in line. Again, how is this a bad deal for the customer?
Oh yeah, you have to wait four weeks to see it. Boo-freakin’-hoo.
Again, I fully admit that I have ranted about some pretty silly things in my life, but waiting four weeks to rent a DVD is so astronomically low on my priority list that it doesn’t even register. And you could do something really crazy if you just have to see that movie right when it comes out … go to a local mom-&-pop video store (they still exist) and support them. I know, there I go again talking crazy.
(not counting these words, this post was 758 words … I am almost 50% more sane than MG Siegler)
If you have never heard of this series, you are really missing out. In 1975 John Cleese of Monty Python fame, and his then wife, Connie Booth, wrote a series about a poorly managed sea-side hotel in Torquay. The series revolved around Basil Fawlty, played by Cleese, and his inept attempts at running a high-end hotel. Beyond his own shortcomings, he is also hampered by his over bearing wife, Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales), Polly (Connie Booth) the maid that dreams of a better life and Manuel (Andrew Sachs) the bell hop/waiter from Spain who speaks very little English.
The second season didn’t appear until 1979, a full four years after the first, and it ended up being the last, ending on Oct. 25th, 1979.
Although the series only ran for 12 episodes, it has not stopped numerous attempts being made at launching a version in the United States, and all of them have failed in disaster: Two of them never made it past pilot, and the third, named Payne, did make it to air, but was quickly canceled.
So, why mark the end of the series as opposed to its launch? Well, I got an email from the BBC America PR department informing me of the new DVD set coming out today for the series that has been digitally remastered, features commentary tracks from Mr. Cleese on every episode, new interviews with John Cleese, Connie Booth, Andrew Sachs and Prunella Scales, outtakes and more. Basically it sounds like a killer set, and even though I already own the set, I am tempted to buy it just for the Cleese commentary tracks.
If you haven’t ever treated yourself to this gem of a series, now seems like a better time than ever.
With all of that being said … why should you go out and buy a copy of the DVD set when I can just give you one? Yes, that’s right folks, the kind folks over at the BBC have teamed up with me to give away not just one of these fantastic sets, but TWO! (You can only win one … stop being greedy! Someone else gets the second one!) These sets have a suggested retail price of $49.98, but you can get one completely free courtesy of SeanPAune.com and the BBC!
So, how do you win one of these sets? Well, it’s a two step process, but fun!
Make a video of yourself reenacting your favorite Basil Fawlty moment from the series. Beat on a car with a tree branch … tell people not to mention the war … hang a moose head on the wall, if Basil did it in the series, you can reenact it! (It is not required to dress like Basil, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt either)
Then post the video to YouTube with the following in the info section:
Entry for the SeanPAune.com and BBC America Fawlty Towers DVD set giveaway
And make sure to tag them with SeanPAune.com, BBC America and Fawlty Towers.
Come back to this post and leave a comment with a link to your video so everyone can enjoy it. I will also create a playlist with all of the videos so everyone can easily browse them.
I will choose the two best videos posted by 11:59 PM CST on Friday Nov. 6th and will then contact the winners for their mailing addresses shortly after that. I will also post the winning videos on this site to share with more of the world.
The Small Print
Contest is limited to residents of the United States and its territories. Only one entry per person. Void where prohibited by law. Have fun!
Want in on even more Fawlty Towers fun? Join the Facebook Fan Page for the series, or follow them on Twitter @FawltyTowersDVD for the latest news surrounding the 30th Anniversary where you can use the #fawltytowers hashtag. And if you just can’t wait, and need to have the DVD set immediately, you can always head over to the BBC America Shop and purchase one, but where’s the fun in getting one of these sets the same way anyone else can?
I really wish DVD releases would just stick with a design through a logical stopping point.
I just picked up Saturday Night Live season 4 on sale, and while moving all of my TV show DVD sets to a new shelving unit, I popped it in its rightful place next to Saturday Night Live season 3 … and immediately cursed.
When I had received the set from Amazon I thought something felt “off” about it, and I was right. Not only is the package of a cheaper material, it’s shorter. I can understand wanting to save money, but couldn’t you have waited until a more logical changing point like season 6 (no original cast members remained after season 5)?
Other series have done this to me over the years, and it has always been annoying. You like some uniformity to your sets, you like them to look like they belong together, but then they change up the appearance with no rhyme or reason, and you’re stuck. The worst case of this was when the X-Files went from their original “fat packs” to the “slim packs” in the later seasons. They were so radically different that it made them difficult to store together at all, let alone look nice.
So, feel free to change packaging when there is a major shift in the show, like when Simpsons season 1 – 5 had one look, and with season 6 they went on to another design. That was fine, that made sense, this just seems random, and an obvious grab to save a few cents at the expense of the consumer who pays the same price for each season, and now has a totally random looking shelf.
Think about these things video companies, it will make your customers feel a lot less slighted.
(And, yes, I am aware only season 1 is unwrapped … I’m getting to the others eventually.)
Netflix added the ability to stream movies some time ago, and after taking the plunge to try it out, I have to say I’m sold on the concept.
At first I was hesitant to give it a try because you could only do it on your computer, and I didn’t feel like going through the trials and tribulations of watching Internet videos on my TV. Eventually a company named Roku brought a Netflix set top box to market, but, I also didn’t feel like plopping down $99 for a dedicated device.
Then, in November, Microsoft updated the Xbox 360 dashboard and added the option to stream Netflix to your TV without any more equipment then I already owned. With the temptation being too great, I finally gave in and reactivated my Netflix account and decided to give it a shot.
For as little as $8.99 a month (we’ll ignore the $4.99 option as that only gives you 2 hours of video streaming a month), you get one DVD rented at a time, but you get unlimited video streaming to your Xbox. Quite a bargain if you ask me since they have over 12,000 selections for you to choose from. True, the movie selection is mainly older films, but for a film buff like myself, I’m thrilled. They also offer help a very healthy selection of older TV shows, all which are available on DVD, but for three months of streaming, you can save your self buying a DVD set you may not even like, and you will save room in your house. I finally can try out an older British comedy I have been dying to try for years called Yes, Minister without rolling the dice on an expensive boxed set and risking not even liking the show.
The only drawback to the system is you have to go to the Netflix site to add more videos to your queue. You can only have 6 active selections show up in your Xbox dashboard at any time, but that is plenty for a night of video watching.
My biggest fear was that you were going to end up with heavily pixalated veiwing since it was streaming over the Internet and being blown up to the size of a TV screen, but I am pleased to say I was totally wrong about that. Last night my father wanted to watch a movie since he is laid out on the couch recovering from knee surgery, and he chose The Illusionist from 2006. What little I watched of the movie since I had work to do was just stunning in its quality. It might not be true high def, but coming over an HDMI cable to our 42″ Toshiba Regza LCD, I noticed little to no “image noise”, no buffering except before the film started, and an overall better experience than a standard definition DVD played on a standard DVD player.
I would still like to see a broader slection of films to watch, and also the ability to add new things to your queue on the fly, but overall, if you have an Xbox 360 already, or feel up to getting a Roku device, this is well worth $8.99 a month. Also, keep an eye out, but some Blu-ray DVD players are starting to add the ability to stream the videos also.
Can any one, or anything, stop the money making machine that is The Dark Knight?
As the film stands as of today (December 11th, 2008) it has had a box office haul of $530,594,370 domestically and $465,956,888 internationally for a total of $996,551,258 gross. This isn’t to short change the fact it cost $185 million to produce, but it is still a highly successful film no matter how you slice it. There has also been the surprising news that the film will be re-released to theaters on January 23rd, 2009 for another go, and this all but guarantees that the film will break through the $1 billion dollar level.
I bring all of this up because earlier this week the film was released on DVD. While I certainly expected it be successful, I knew something was up when I was at Walmart at midnight Monday night and there was a line in the electronics department of people waiting for them to wheel out their supply. I can’t say I remember ever seeing that before any other DVD, so the writing was on the wall this was going to be big. (For the record, mine was on its way via UPS, I was there for other reasons)
Well, the numbers are in, and the sales for the first 24 hours was 600,000 Blu-ray copies and 2.4 million standard DVDs. The previous Blu-ray champ was Iron Man with 400,000 copies in its first week… sorry, Iroan Man.
Warner Brothers is trying to woo Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan, the brothers who wrote the movie and Christopher directed, back for another installment, but they are currently not jumping at the chance. Christopher has been quoted in numerous interviews of fearing the curse of third film in a series (See Spider-Man 3), and he has also said he hasn’t been struck by an idea yet for another outing of the caped crusader.
I have to say, “Stick to your guns, Chris”. If we only get two movies from him of Batman, then so be it. Sure I would like to see a third film in the series, but I want it to be ‘right’, and not just made to be made. Sure there are more Batman villains he can tackle, but would they be worthy of carrying a film? Catwoman is possible… The Riddler is a bit weak… Mr. Nolan has publicly declared he doesn’t like The Penguin… Harley Quinn couldn’t carry a film on her own, and without The Joker, she would be hard to do… Posion Ivy couldn’t do it on her own… Mr. Freeze is too silly and so on and so forth.
With these new sales numbers Warner Brothers is sure to be courting Mr. Nolan harder for a third film, but what say you, should he go for it?
With another year under their belt, why does Blu-ray still seem to be another “also ran” in the home media market?
It was one year ago today that I announced that I had decided to go with HD-DVD, and I knew full well that probably meant I had picked the wrong format in the high def war. I was proven right in February of this year when HD-DVD threw in the towel, and it looked like a lock that Blu-ray would become the dominant format.
So, why hasn’t it happened? Blu-ray is still languishing with only a single digit percentage of the home media market, and it doesn’t look to be gainging more traction with the economy in its current uncertain state. As I see it, Blu-ray is fighting a multi pronged fight that it didn’t even ponder it was going to have to.
As people have said everywhere, DVDs still look too good on a high def television to warrant people running out and buying yet another format. With upconverting DVD players pushing standard definition discs to near HD quality, and those players still selling for less than a Blu-ray player, it’s hard for people to make the justification for going with Blu-ray.
Even when people do go with Blu-ray, they are not buying films in the numbers they were with regular DVDs.
Streaming media is becoming more common, and on numerous devices people already own. For instance, the fact that you can stream Netflix films via the XBox 360 now. Why purchase what you can stream, and be out more money and space in your home?
The prices for Blu-ray players and their accompanying discs are still just too high compared to their standard definition counterparts.
You add up all of these problems, and it doesn’t look too promising for the high def format. Yes, I fully admit that this may sound like sour grapes over me goign HD-DVD, but it isn’t, because I have been very close to throwing in the towel and buying a Blu-ray player several times since February. At this point I don’t think buying into an HD format is a wise choice for any one. Streaming is becoming more and more prevalent, and I don’t see standard def DVDs going anywhere, so I’m thinking it may be wise to just sit out this home media iteration and see where the chips land.
In short, don’t be me and put all your money on what could be a losing horse.
I’ve just about had it with HBO and their DVD shenanigans.
I’ve talked before about my love of The Wire, and I have picked up the DVD sets as they came out. Before season 5 premiered, they ran three prequel stories that took place well before season 1 on Amazon. These were not included on the season 5 set, but they will be in the complete series set… meaning those of us who supported the series for 5 years don’t get the spiffy extra.
I was a huge, INSANE fan of Deadwood. I think it is quite possibly the three greatest seasons of television ever aired, but it was sadly cut short without any resolution to a few story lines. HBO promised that they would produce two 2-hour movies that would finish it off, but those have yet to happen. Now the complete series set is coming out, and, again, I have supported the show as each season was released. As I am sure you guessed, the complete series will have some extras I don’t have, and normally I survive without them, but this time I am furious. One of the extras will be a n interview with the creator of the series about what happened after the end of season 3 and what would have happened to each character.
… say what?
Not only did HBO cancel the series due to budget concerns, leaving us without a resolution, then they broke the promise of the movies. Now they top all of this off by shoving a knife into my heart by saying that by my supporting the series all this time, I don’t get to know what happened to the characters.
Never mind the fact HBO charges far more for their DVDs than standard television sets, so we aren’t talking a $20 a season or anything. Do they really think I am willing to pay twice for what will end up being a few minutes of footage? Sorry, but it’s not going to happen no matter how much I would like to see it.
Sure the information will make its way online, but it is the principle of the matter. Why does the fact that someone waits to buy the complete set at the end of the run gets what amounts to the ultimate reward ofor Deadwood fans, but those who supported all along get nothing? Not only that, but they’re paying less than the person who supported the individual sets! Currently if you go on Amazon, the three seperate sets would run you $159.99, but the complete series set is preordering for $125.99. So, come in late, pay less, and you get the spiffy reward? How does this make any sense?
The simple solution, and the one I’m sticking to, is that I’m done with HBO DVDs. They have done nothing but spit on their long time fans series after series. The Wire thing is almost excusable, but I can’t forgive them for the Deadwood situation. No True Blood DVDs for me… no Entourage… all shows I love, but clearly HBO really doesn’t care about my support, so why should I really bother?
While it’s not clear if anyone has actually requested a refund for buying an HD DVD player yet, Toshiba is making sure every one knows it’s not going to happen. They also said there won’t be any “sweetners” because the equipment still has an “inherent value” in that it can play CDs, DVDs, and your HD DVD collection.
Even as an owner of an HD DVD player I have to say this is the right decision on the part of Toshiba. As I said back when I wrote about why Steve Jobs was wrong to give a refund in regards to the iPhone, if you are an early adopter of technology, you have to expect things like this to happen. I knew exactly what I was getting in to with buying the HD DVD player when I did, and I didn’t expect any hand holding as I took the leap.
Steve Jobs explained it best in his open letter to iPhone whiners customers about wanting a refund when the iPhone dropped in price:
Second, being in technology for 30+ years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you’ll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced.
It’s all part of the technology “game”. If you want to play the “game”, then you need to expect to lose once in awhile, it can’t be helped. Sure, it feels nice to “win”, as the Blu-ray adopters did, but it’s not going to happen every time, the law of averages simply says that if you are an early adopter, you will “lose” sometimes.
I think this speaks to the current technology environment, though. There are so many innovations happening in so many fields that it is becoming more common for people to be early adopters of something or the other that never have been before.
Somewhere along the line there is a disconnect happening, a sense of entitlement that doesn’t make sense to me. When you buy a car, do you whine when the next model comes out? Do you whine when there’s a price drop? No, you expect it and you deal with it. So why do consumers feel they are owed something, or are somehow slighted, when there are changes in gadgets? It makes no sense to me.
In short, yes, HD DVD is dead, and there will not be any new discs coming out in the format, but you still have a very nice DVD player that will upscale your standard definition DVDs to near high definition quality. You bought into it, you knew the risks, you deal with it. And, again, I have no clue if anyone did actually ask for refunds, but I sure hope no one did.