And here’s something fun: Today marks the 40th anniversary of TV’s original Battlestar Galactica. To celebrate the milestone, our own Michael Coate has just finished a great new History, Legacy & Showmanship retrospective column on the series featuring a roundtable with our own occasional contributor Mark A. Altman, as well as Herbie J. Pilato and Gary Gerani, historians all. You can find that here.
And if you’re a serious Battlestar Galactica fan, Mark has also authored a great new book (with Edward Gross) from Tor Books, called So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica. It features in-depth interviews with dozens of people involved in the creation of both the original Glen A. Larson series and the more recent Ron Moore remake. You can find it here on Amazon. I have a copy myself and I can tell you, it’s great reading for fans.
Now then, some announcement news…
Disney is releasing a Celebrating Mickey Blu-ray collection on 10/23, in addition to the Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 3 on 11/13. Celebrating Mickey is being released in honor of the character’s 90th anniversary. The set will include 13 mostly classic shorts, many available for the first time in HD, including Steamboat Willie (1928), The Band Concert (1935), Mickey’s Rival (1936), Thru the Mirror (1936), Boat Builders (1938), Brave Little Tailor (1938), Mickey’s Trailer (1938), Tugboat Mickey (1940), The Little Whirlwind (1941), Mickey’s Birthday Party (1942), Pluto’s Party (1952), The Simple Things (1953), and Get a Horse (2013). It seems unlikely that we’re ever going to get a Blu-ray collection of more of these shorts, so this might be worth a look for classic animation fans. And the bigger surprise is that both of these Disney titles are available for pre-order on Amazon here and here (see the cover artwork below as well).
Meanwhile, Kino Lorber will release The Killing of Sister George (1968) as part of their Studio Classics line on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/27, along with The Grissom Gang (1971), and Memories of Me (1988). Also newly announced by the studio… They Might Be Giants (1971 – coming soon), Naked Alibi (1954 – coming in 2019), Bend of the River (1952 – coming soon), The Midnight Man (1974 – coming soon), and Stick (1985 – coming in 2019).
VCI will release Topper Takes a Trip (1938) on Blu-ray on 11/27.
Shout! Factory has set Billie August’s WWII film In Harm’s Way (2017) for release on Blu-ray on 12/4.
Arrow Video will release Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg (1977) on Blu-ray on 12/4. Arrow also has a double feature of Django (1966) and Texas Adios (1966) due on Blu-ray on 11/20. The company is also releasing Orgies of Edo (1969) on Blu-ray that same day.
Metropolitan Video is releasing a Bruce Lee: Definitive Edition 4K Ultra HD box set on 27 October (10/27) in France that will include The Big Boss (1971), Fist of Fury (1972), Way of the Dragon (1972), and Game of Death (1978) on both 4K UHD and Blu-ray. It will apparently feature English 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio, among other audio options. The Blu-rays will probably be region-locked, but the 4K discs will play anywhere. Note that these films will also be available separately on 4K UHD.
Cinedigm is also planning to release Wes Miller’s River Runs Red (2018) on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD on 12/11.
And MVD is releasing the Burt Reynolds film Raven (1996) on Blu-ray on 12/11.
Also today, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of a legend in the home video industry. Andre Blay, the founder of Magnetic Video Corporation, died on 8/24. Blay was the person who originally conceived of the idea to release films on videocassette. He was instrumental in convincing the Hollywood studios – beginning with 20th Century Fox – to do so on VHS. You can read more about him here at the NY Times. Suffice it to say that without his genus, not only would VHS not exist, we very likely wouldn’t have DVD, Blu-ray, 4K, or digital either. Tip of the hat, sir. We all owe you a debt.
All right... finally today, wanted to post a follow-up about that story from last week on iTunes consumer Andrews G da Silva, who discovered a trio of digital movies he’d purchased missing from his iTunes library. Now, it turns out the situation is a little bit of an oddball… da Silva is from Australia, where he purchased many of his films, but recently moved to Canada. Because of this, the region differences meant three of the films he’d purchased before he moved didn’t show up in his library after the move. You can read updates here at CNet and here at 9 to 5 Mac.
First of all, it’s unsurprising that region issues related to film distribution rights would rear their ugly head as a problem in the digital space. As people move around, this is going to be an on-going problem. Of course, this has led a few to dismiss the concerns we posted in our editorial here at The Bits on Thursday. But doing so misses the larger point, which is important.
When you buy content that lives digitally in the cloud, instead of physically with you, you are losing a large measure of control over that content. Keep in mind, you aren’t actually “purchasing” that content anymore, you’re purchasing the limited right to access it at the convenience of the content provider.
If I’ve learned one important lesson from 25 years of experience within the home entertainment industry, it’s that consumers must advocate for their rights when purchasing content, or those rights will evaporate. It’s as easy as a lawyer tweaking the terms & conditions agreement you agree to (typically without reading) when signing up with a streaming service.
I’ve seen it happen before, when Hollywood fought the ability of consumers to videotape programming. I just mentioned Andre Blay, who pioneered the idea of renting and selling films on VHS to consumers. It’s worth noting that some of the studios – and especially the MPAA – fought this idea tooth and nail. I’ve seen the studios try to bastardize the idea of selling movies on DVD with a pay-per-view version called Divx. I saw the record industry fight Napster – and the whole idea of releasing music digitally – like hell before finally embracing it. I see problems happening again with digital streaming. Steaming is convenient, yes. But the very way streaming is currently being implemented means that you lose some of your rights as a consumer.
Consumers must advocate for their rights! Always. You have to fight to protect your rights and the quality of your experience as a consumer of movie discs, downloads/streaming, food, air travel, whatever. The companies that sell them to you aren’t protecting your rights, they’re protecting their own. Sometimes, they overreach. Sometimes they lose touch with what it’s like to be a consumer. Sometimes, they’re more concerned with the bottom line. All of this is a normal part of the push and pull of economics. The point is, as a consumer, you must advocate for your rights. Or you will tend to lose them.
The studios in recent years have made it very difficult to for consumers to report problems with a home media release (disc or digital) and get them corrected or addressed. We hear from frustrated home entertainment consumers every single day here at The Bits, readers who have turned to us as a last resort after getting no response from content providers in addressing problems. These include defective discs, downloads that are supposed to be of one version of a film but end up being another, people who purchased the extended cut of a film who suddenly find it’s been “updated” with the theatrical cut, etc.
As we move into the all-digital space, and the physical component of home entertainment gradually wanes, the opportunity for problems to occur only grows. And consumers lose more and more control over their media. That is a legit concern and one that every digital consumer must keep in mind. By continuing to purchase physical media, you often get the best of both worlds – a physical disc of higher quality and a digital download for convenience. This is why we advocate for physical media.
But we here at The Digital Bits are by no means against digital. Hell, the very idea of digital is right in the name of our website. I am personally a regular consumer of lossless audio music downloads. But it should be noted, those do not feature excessive DRM. I can download the files, copy them, and back them up to protect my investment and my access to it. The key is this: If you choose to go all-digital, you must consider doing the same. Download all your files, copy them to a back-up drive, etc. Do what you must, to ensure that you continue to have access to all the content you’ve purchased going forward.
And always, always, advocate for your rights as a consumer. We’ve learned from experience here at The Bits that the industry always works to protect its own rights, not yours. If you don’t protect your rights, no one else will... and you will lose them over time. Enough said.
All right, here’s a look at a little more new cover artwork as mentioned above. Click to pre-order the titles on Amazon (if available)…
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!