But no sooner did I post my confirmation yesterday, I got – no kidding – about a hundred e-mails or private messages from 4K fans: “You said the disc will have Dolby Vision, but the press release isn’t clear, so can you find out for me...” etc.
Now... this happens a lot. A LOT. Most of our e-mails these days are questions like this from Blu-ray and 4K fans. A title goes up for pre-order on Amazon or Best Buy, and suddenly lots of anxious fans want to know: How does the transfer look? Will the studio do a good job this time, or screw it up like the last time? Will this feature or that feature be included? What about 3D? In other words, they almost want an in-depth review of the title, before the title has actually even been announced. Certainly, long before anyone outside the studio has actually seen the disc. Or fans want to vent about how stupid they think the film is, about their frustrations with the studios, about how they have no intention of buying the disc again until the studio does this, that, and the other thing, etc. Then, when the title finally gets officially announced in an actual press release, in-artful or vague wording in the release itself triggers a whole new wave of questions, and we get flooded with them again. And I totally get it. The studios, really, have only themselves to blame for this situation. Sometimes, these days, it seems like getting straight answers about Blu-ray and 4K titles involves casting and reading rune stones.
What you guys have to understand is, the Hollywood studio home video operations aren’t what they once were. The “Golden Age” of Movie Discs has passed. There are very few people at the studios who read what’s written on the Internet about their Blu-ray and DVD releases, on websites or in enthusiast discussion forums. Sure, they do care that things are being written: They want to generate a “buzz,” they want such things going viral, and they want to see the metrics reports. But they seem to have little time, or see little value, in dealing with home video press and enthusiasts on the Internet. Home video is kind of an afterthought now, and the studios have, by and large, folded their press promotion of such things over to social media and to the theatrical side, where (unless you’re EW.com) they’re not really interested in giving you the time of day. That’s not to say that there aren’t a ton of very good and very helpful PR people – there are, and we’re grateful for them! But in terms of dealing with studio people directly, it’s not like it once was. There was a time when studio executives found enthusiast websites and forums a valuable resource in understanding what their best customers wanted. That time is over, at least at the majors. There are many great companies like Shout! Factory, Twilight, Kino (etc) where things are different. But there seems to be very few people at Warner, Disney, and the other studios who are paying attention to such things. Mostly, they just don’t want to be bothered. And those few who are paying attention aren’t, by and large, the people who are making the actual decisions about such things. Who is the studio paying attention to? The retailers. That’s why you’re seeing so many retail exclusives these days, that’s why you’re seeing Amazon.com having so many pissing matches with the studios. This situation is a little bit different internationally. The international operations of many of the leading Hollywood studios are still very responsive, very communicative with enthusiasts and press. But here in the States, those days are gone.
This is a long-winded way of saying this: It takes a LOT of hard work and effort to get good accurate information about what’s coming and what’s going on with these titles, beyond what you see on a pre-order listing or a press release. More than it ever has, in some ways. Many titles don’t even get press releases anymore. So don’t wring your hands over these press releases so much, or what details you see listed on Amazon or Best Buy. They often don’t tell the full story, or they raise more questions than they answer. Here at The Bits, we’ve been doing what we do since literally the start of the DVD format – almost twenty years now. We have enough sources, a long enough history, and a good enough reputation, that we can often get answers. But it’s not like it once was. We’re doing the best we can every day, on behalf of consumers and enthusiasts, who love Blu-ray, DVD, Blu-ray 3D, and 4K Ultra HD. Believe me. But it ain’t easy. It’s become much, much harder to do our jobs than ever before. (For those of you wondering why I don’t personally get more disc reviews done, it’s because I spend most of my day doing stuff like this.) When we pull on certain levers at the studios, we can usually get to the bottom of things. But the studios don’t generally like those levers to be pulled anymore, nor do they even much want them to be found. Just so you know. Thanks for your understanding!
So... to confirm yesterday’s confirmation: Yes, we have once again checked with Disney reps and have been told that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will include Dolby Vision HDR as an option on BOTH the actual 4K disc and the digital streams. So there you go. If it ends up that ain’t so, or if that doesn’t settle anxious fans, it’s out of our control. But that is what we’ve been told twice now.
Really quick: We’ve just posted three new Blu-ray Disc reviews here at The Bits today, featuring Tim’s thoughts on the Vinegar Syndrome titles Double Exposure and Malibu High, as well as our old friend Joe Marchese’s take on Shout! Factory’s terrific and recent new The Pink Panther Collection box set. Enjoy!
We’ll be back tomorrow with another great new History, Legacy & Showmanship column from Michael Coate. See you then... and stay tuned!
- Bill Hunt