DVD do’s and don’ts for 2004
By Mike Snider and Thomas K. Arnold, USA TODAY
TRENDS WE LIKE
Movies coming to DVD faster. Now it typically takes four months for a movie to go from theater to DVD instead of the historical standard of six months. Studios say they get to capitalize on theatrical marketing and awareness. Fans are just happy to see the movie sooner.
TV on DVD. Watch what you want, when you want and best of all, no commercials. Consumers are snapping up “complete season” packages of TV shows ($1 billion worth in 2003). And they’re coming out quickly. For example, Alias fans can catch up on the action with Sydney because Season 2 arrived just three months after the release of Season 1.
Music DVD. Concerts have never been more realistic. You get great sound, cool visuals and all sorts of extras ó all for the price of a music-only CD. No wonder traditional music sales are down.
Getting more of favorite films. Check out the longer versions of the Alien films in Fox’s Alien Quadrilogy, Blade Runner Director’s Cut and the extended The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Cooler extras. Bonus materials have gotten a lot slicker in the six years since the format was introduced. Joining the old standbys such as director commentaries and deleted scenes are games, interactive scene studies and other innovations. Among our favorites: interactive history of pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean and a multi-angle study of the Nightcrawler’s opening attack in X-Men 2: X-Men United.
Cool packaging. Who can resist Universal’s Scarface gift set, which comes in a faux alligator cigar box along with a money clip and the original 1932 Scarface? The rubberized cover on Artisan’s Speed Racer collection adds character without creating storage problems.
Low prices. DVD is so hot that retailers are using them as loss leaders. You can buy virtually any release its first week out for less than $15. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart and other discounters routinely sell classic films for as little as $5.88. That’s less than the price of a movie ticket.
Listening to what people want. Some studios have sought viewer advice in creating DVDs. Broadway Video asked Kids in the Hall fans what they wanted on the Season 1 DVD. And classic-movie junkies got to recommend which five of 20 Warner catalog titles to release. Days of Wine and Roses, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Postman Always Rings Twice with Lana Turner and John Garfield, The Wind and the Lion and Where the Boys Are arrive Jan. 6.
TRENDS WE WOULD RESOLVE TO END
Holdouts. The recent quick DVD turnaround has made buyers impatient. But some releases are way past due. Where are the original Star Wars movies? Bill Murray’s classic Quick Change? The John Candy film Only The Lonely? The cult classic The Bad Seed? And while we’re at it, Seasons 4 through 15 of The Simpsons?
Not-so-special features. Why do some studios still insist on listing scene selection, subtitles and Dolby stereo as special features?
Multiple versions of the same film. How many times do you expect someone to buy a refurbished Terminator 2?
Cardboard boxes. The flimsy cardboard “snapper” that Warner Home Video uses has got to go. Warner has some of the greatest classic films ever made, and they deserve better ó such as the plastic “keepcase” other studios use.
Tape, tape, and more tape. We realize security is a concern, but are those three sides of super-sticky tape really necessary? It’s almost easier to hack the copy-protection code than to open one of these suckers.
Cumbersome packaging. Fox’s Alien Quadrilogy is impressive, but the package folds out into an unwieldy 5-foot behemoth. Die-hard Battlestar Galactica fans probably went gaga over the shiny, silver Cylon helmet-shaped Complete Epic Series set from Universal, but how will it fit on shelves? We much prefer individual plastic cases for each disc, like Paramount’s Adventures of Indiana Jones collection. Or check out Sony Music’s Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues and Broadway Video’s The Kids in the Hall ó Season 1 in slim keepsake cases.
Endless trailers. Stop putting in trailers for upcoming releases. Or at least offer it as an option on the menu, so we go there only if we really want to.
Portable DVD player batteries with too little power. Why they can’t get the battery to last as long as a movie is beyond us.
Give us everything. Every television show on DVD release should have every episode from the respective season (Spin City skipped some), and every major living star should join in on commentary and interviews.
DVD do’s and don’ts for 2004