My Two Cents
Friday, 21 October 2022 15:51

Imprint bows its first 4K title, Warner’s LOTR experiential NFT something or other, new disc releases & unfortunate Criterion layoff news

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We’re finishing out the week here at The Bits beginning with two more new disc reviews, including...

Tim’s look at Martin Campbell’s No Escape (1994, aka Escape from Absolom) on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films.

And Dennis’ take on Joseph Anthony’s The Rainmaker (1956) on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

And we definitely have some significant news to report today, both in terms of titles and more general industry goings-on...

First up, Imprint Films has just announced their very first 4K Ultra HD title and it’s an upgrade of their debut Imprint Collection Blu-ray release... Byron Haskin’s The War of the Worlds (1953). The street date is 12/15. The 2-disc set will feature both a 4K UHD and the previous Blu-ray edition in Steelbook packaging, housed in a 3D lenticular hardcase with a 44-page collector’s booklet. You can see the packaging below. [Read on here...]

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Imprint Films War of the Worlds 4K Ultra HD

The edition is limited to just 2,000 copies. Extras will be identical to those on their original Blu-ray release (and Paramount’s recent Ultra HD). SRP is $99.95 Australian dollars (that’s about $63 US dollars at current exchange rates, not including shipping costs). And before you flood us with questions, we don’t yet know if Imprint will be fixing the Mars color-grading error on their 4K edition (though for that price, we would certainly hope so). [Based on the artwork above, this might literally be the same Paramount 4K disc, so don’t count on a fix.] But we’ve definitely asked them about it and we’ll let you know as soon as we hear back from them. You can pre-order the title here.

Meanwhile, Amazon is already taking pre-orders for the Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD release of Parker Finn’s Smile from Paramount. The title is not yet officially announced, but retail sources are telling us that the street date is likely to be 12/13.

Speaking of Paramount, we’re hearing that their Blu-ray and DVD release of the Amazon Original series Reacher: Season One is likely to arrive on 12/13 as well.

Cinedigm is releasing Christopher Griffiths and John Campopiano’s Pennywise: The Story of IT documentary on Blu-ray on 11/22.

Here’s something... interesting... that I have absolutely no interest in, but that Warner Bros. is promoting: A new Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Extended Edition “Web3 Movie Experience” apparently drops today. It’s being billed by the studio as “an entirely new way to own, collect and enjoy your favorite movies” but it seems pretty ridiculous to me. From what I can tell, it’s an interactive online NFT experience that you buy access to and “own” (but of course, not really) that allows to you navigate around a virtual space themed like the lands of Middle-Earth, and though which you can access the film in 4K and all of the bonus content that’s been created previously for Blu-ray and DVD. Anyway, it ain’t for me, but if you’re curious you can check it out here.

Back in the physical disc realm, it appears that Warner and DC will be releasing Black Adam on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 1/17/23, based on word from US and international retail sources.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics has just announced a new Blu-ray box set of the restored Chuck Norris Missing in Action Trilogy for release on 1/17/23. It will include Missing in Action (1984), Mission in Action 2: The Beginning (1985), and Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988). You’ll get new commentaries along with some legacy extras.

Also coming on Blu-ray from KLSC on 1/10/23 is Buzz Kulik’s Sergeant Ryker (1968).

Screen Media will be releasing Timo Vourensola’s Jeepers Creepers Reborn on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/15.

The Cinema Guild has announced a new Three Films by Hong Sangsoo Blu-ray box set for release on 12/13, which includes Oki’s Move (2010), Our Sunhi (2013), and Nobody’s Daughter Haweon (2013). The films will also be released individually on DVD that same day.

For music fans, the MVD Entertainment Group is releasing The Tubular Bells 50th Anniversary Tour: Live at the Royal Festival Hall on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/18. Each will be a 2-disc set that includes the concert program along with a documentary on the history of Tubular Bells.

And the MPI Media Group has just announced The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Show: The Complete Seasons Seven and Eight for release on DVD on 11/15. The entire series is also available digitally in HD on a variety of streaming platforms.

We also need to share an update today on a title we’ve mentioned previously: We reported last week that RLJE would be releasing the AMC series The Old Man: Season One on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/6. It turns out it’s not the series but a film called Old Man by Lucky McKee, starring Stephen Lang. So adjust your plans accordingly.

Finally, we have some significant industry news to report this afternoon: According to a report from IndieWire, the Criterion Collection is laying off some twenty percent of its staff (approximately 16 people) in a ‘reorganization’ that’s designed to make the company more competitive. Per Criterion President Peter Becker via email to IndieWire

“Yesterday was a sad day at Criterion. We had to part ways with a number of staffers across several departments as part of a reorganization intended to prepare the company for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, which are markedly different from the ones we had built ourselves up to address in the past.”

First of all, let me just say that Peter Becker is good people and I feel for him today. This has got to be tough on him and everyone else at the company. It no doubt has to do with the fact that physical media—much though we all love it—has a limited horizon. Criterion is far more likely to survive long term as a streaming media distribution company via their excellent Criterion Channel service. (Which you should all be subscribers to, in addition to simply purchasing their discs, if you wish support this company going forward. Speaking personally, I’ve been a Charter Subscriber from Day One and plan to continue as one indefinitely.)

We’re still gathering information and reaction to this news from within the industry—there’s been remarkably little reporting on it via the traditional Hollywood trades. So I would hesitate to draw too many conclusions about the news beyond what I’ve just noted. Except this much must certainly be said: To all those of you who lost your jobs at Criterion yesterday, we’re deeply sorry. But we thank you mightily for all the great work you’ve done over the years on behalf of cinema and special edition fans. It’s appreciated so much more than you may realize.

I know there’s a lot of physical media fans out there today who simply refuse to believe that there will come a day—in the not too distant future—when disc releases will be far more rare than they are now. This is especially true of younger enthusiasts, and the belief is exacerbated by the fact that we’re getting such a flood of deep catalog Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD titles right now—so many that it’s hard to keep up with them all. The typical response we see on social media (second only to “God, that cover artwork is awful!”) is some variation of: “So much for the decline of physical media!”

But this is the difference between knowledge that comes from Google searches and hanging out in self-reinforcing bubble communities online (wonderful though some of these discussion forums are) vs. knowledge that comes from actually working within the home entertainment industry and interacting with others who do the same. If all you use as evidence in forming your opinions is the glut of available titles, what you’re not seeing is how disc production budgets are declining, how replication batch numbers are dropping (resulting in more genuine limited editions that are selling out in pre-orders), how QC is flagging (resulting in more and more disc errors and mistakes), how many people who work in various aspects of disc production are getting laid off, how many special edition content producers are struggling to maintain quality with less money and support, etc. As Bob Dylan once said: The times, they are a-changin’.

Bottom line: If there’s a title you want, and you’re lucky enough to see it being released on disc, don’t hesitate to buy it because you may not get another chance. Support physical media in every way you can. But don’t say you weren’t warned that, one day, you won’t be able to do so anymore. Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD discs remain the very best way to enjoy movie and TV series content in the highest possible quality at home, but home media formats come and go. And these won’t be around forever. So enjoy them while you can!

Now then... we’ll be back here on Monday to kick off our celebration of Halloween week with a bunch of great new disc reviews appropriate to the occasion. In the meantime, we hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Peace out!

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)



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