Print this page

The Burnt Offerings 2013 Studio Report Card

December 30, 2013 - 3:48 pm   |   by

As one year fades away and a new year begins, it seems like a good idea to take a look at where the MOD initiative stands. And what better way to do that than by handing out some good old fashioned letter grades?

Yes, it’s time for the official Burnt Offerings 2013 Studio Report Card! Single file, children, and make sure you have your CEOs sign your report card and return them to me when the new term begins.  [Read on here...]

Warner Archive Collection

The gold standard in MOD continues to be the studio that created it in the first place. Warner Archive had a stellar year with a wide range of releases ranging from classics to cult oddities to cartoons to made-for-TV series and movies. Their fledgling Blu-ray program, launched in late 2012, released a handful of eagerly awaited, high-quality titles like The Hudsucker Proxy, Greystoke, Billy Rose’s Jumbo and Fearless. The studio also ventured into streaming media with Warner Archive Instant, with hundreds of titles now available, many in 1080p High Def, for just $9.99 a month. And Warner’s distribution deal with Paramount brought a number of Paramount titles back into print via Warner Archive, including such gems as Searching For Bobby Fischer and Targets. Their diverse selection and high quality, coupled with a vibrant social media presence on the Facebooks and the Twitters and such, make Warner Archive tops in their game. If you’re going to do an MOD program, this is the way to do it.

Grade: A

Best Releases of 2013: The Andy Hardy Film Collection, Volume 2 / Captain Caveman And The Teen Angels: The Complete Series / Fearless (Blu-ray) / Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volumes 6 & 7 / Greystoke (Blu-ray) / A Guy Named Joe / Hey Good Lookin’ / The Horn Blows At Midnight / The Hudsucker Proxy (Blu-ray) / Space Stars: The Complete Series / Vivacious Lady

Sony Pictures Choice Collection

Sony’s program slowed down a bit in 2013, with many of their “new” releases simply out-of-print titles reissued on MOD. Some of these selections were a little mystifying. Why would anybody want Sony’s MOD version of Anatomy of a Murder when they can get it on DVD or Blu-ray from Criterion? But there were a few gems, including Carl Reiner’s supremely underrated The Comic and the long-awaited release of two TV-movie episodes of the 70s cult sci-fi series Salvage 1. Let’s hope 2014 sees the release of the complete series. But even if the studio isn’t digging as deeply into its catalog as I might like, at least the quality of their releases has remained consistently high.

Grade: B

Best Releases of 2013: The Comic / The Key / The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case / Salvage 1: Golden Orbit / Salvage 1: Hard Water

Universal Vault Series

For awhile there, it seemed as though Universal had forgotten the combination to its Vault, with months passing between releases. The studio’s insistence on running the program in stealth mode with virtually no promotion doesn’t help matters. But intrepid collectors were rewarded with a few choice discs, including the 1984 cult comedy The Wild Life. Most readers have reported that the disc does indeed boast the original soundtrack, although I’ve heard from a couple who insist that this is the altered VHS music. Unfortunately, Universal isn’t particularly communicative when it comes to Vault releases, so I cannot say definitively what we’ve got here. We’ll keep trying, though. The Universal Vault Series isn’t bad but it should be a lot better. The studio needs to stop treating it like an afterthought and really commit some resources to it.

Grade: C+

Best Releases of 2013: Bates Motel (1987) / Little Man, What Now? / This Day And Age / Tillie And Gus / The Wild Life

20th Century Fox Cinema Archives

If you’re a classic movie lover, Fox’s Cinema Archives should be a dream come true. They had a robust release schedule in 2013, releasing dozens of movies, none of which had ever been on DVD before. The problem is their work is often sloppy. Most movies from the 1930s and 40s are fine but widescreen pictures are frequently released in their pan-and-scan versions. And this isn’t an isolated incident, it’s happened repeatedly. At this point in the game, we shouldn’t have to worry about this anymore. There are plenty of good movies in Fox’s lineup. If they just step up the quality of their work, I’d be only to happy to raise their grade next year.

Grade: C-

Best Releases of 2013: The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend / Cry Of The City / George White’s 1935 Scandals / The Meanest Man In The World / Moss Rose / No Highway In The Sky / Western Union

MGM Limited Edition Collection

Bueller? Bueller? Anybody? What happened, MGM? From the looks of things, MGM hasn’t released a new MOD title since the summer of 2012. That’s a shame because after a rocky start, MGM was doing some good work, with a diverse lineup of cult favorites and classics. Time to either get back in the saddle or let us know when you’ll be holding the funeral.

Grade: F

That’ll do it for this year! Burnt Offerings will be back at the end of January with a look at what’s new in the MOD world and at the end of every month following. Have a safe and Happy New Year, all! See you soon.

- Dr. Adam Jahnke