|DVD - all it promised?
|by Dov Kornits
Six months ago we started looking to DVD's with a bit of trepidation. Was it going to be just another film freak fad, perhaps the next betamax or was the general public going to buy into this new technology? Speaking with head of Columbia Tristar Home Video, Michelle Garra, it looks like these CD's cranked up with superior pictures and extra features are here to stay.
DK: What have been the biggest selling titles since we last spoke?
MG: I'd have to say The Fifth Element. I've been told from a comparison with Warner Bros that it's probably the biggest at the moment in the market. It may have just been eclipsed by Titanic. That's shipped over 10,000 copies, but we don't know if they've actually sold that much. Whereas we've sold 9,700 of The Fifth Element.
DK: Do you think the extra features and superior picture quality is appealing beyond the film buff?
MG: I thought all that extra footage and features were just stuff that only people in the industry would like. But they just did a survey in the UK and the first 2000 cards they got back, 79% said that the most important choice in buying a DVD were the special features. So I think that just shows you that the movie industry doesn't know anything.
DK: Do you have a problem with people buying their imported DVDs off the net?
MG: We're not gonna stop people from doing that. Domestically it's one thing altogether. Commercially, if somebody wants to start importing them as a business, of course we're gonna stop them. It's one thing if a consumer likes to have a disc first so they can tell everybody that they've got it before anywhere else, it's another thing to have things brought in for sale that break our copyright. The reality is that the public at large will want to be able to go to their local video and get what they want. Whether it's to buy or to rent and they want to make sure there's a big range of titles. I've got nearly 500 titles now, there'll be over 600 by Christmas.
DK: Have you actually picked and chosen which titles to release?
MG: Yeah, absolutely. We basically put out the biggest selling ones first. I wish that we could have every one of them now but it's just not realistic.
DK: Do American DVDs have superior features to ones released elsewhere?
MG: No, something like the Zone 4 Cruel Intentions had deleted scenes that in the US they didn't have. There was also a Mask of Zorro collector's edition for Zone 4 that they haven't had in the US. I think a lot of people are misrepresenting the differences between what's available here and there.
DK: Back to the whole net question. What do you think of the whole Blair Witch fiasco? A lot of people are claiming they've already seen the film in Australia before it's release because it was available on DVD in the States months ago...
MG: I don't know what their reasons were for delaying the cinema release in Australia. It must be the school holidays because I don't know what else it could be. Maybe they should just get off their tails and release it theatrically. They're probably not as DVD savvy as we are. We're always aware of what's being released in the US. They shouldn't wait too long because the world is only a keyboard away now. Everybody knows that the consumer is much smarter than we think. They can get so much more information than people give them credit for.
DK: Finally, are you going to change the perception that it's digital versatile disc, not digital video disc?
MG: It's funny because I asked my American management "What is it?" They said its digital video disc. And I said it should be versatile because Playstation 2 is coming and digital TV. Playstation 2 can play games, DVD and discs. I was reading the letters page in the latest Playstation Magazine and a kid had written in saying that his mother and him were going halves in a Playstation because she could watch movies and he could play games. I'd rather them call it versatile because you can do so many things with it.
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originally posted: 12/12/99 21:54:43