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page created: 9/27/99

Chat Transcript: Universal's David Shin
on Home Theater Forum

The following is a complete transcript of the on-line chat with David Shin, Director of Interactive Marketing for Universal Home Video. It was originally held on September 24th on The Home Theater Forum. Thanks to Ron Epstein and Parker Clack (of the HTF) for all their hard work, and for providing the transcript for all to read. Enjoy!

[RonEpstein] Okay folks... I realize it's a Friday night and I appreciate you all coming here tonight. Welcome. At this time...We are proud to introduce Mr. David Shin...who is Director of Interactive marketing for Universal Home video. David, welcome!

[davidshin] Thank you Ron. I am glad to be here and want to first apologize for the last minute schedule change.

[RonEpstein] We understand

[davidshin] I am ready for the questions.

[RonEpstein] Okay, I just want to ask a first question of you... What exactly does Director of Interactive marketing do at Universal?

[davidshin] Basically two areas of responsibility. The first is overall marketing for DVDs and second is Internet related marketing for our VHS and DVD titles. Done.

[RonEpstein] Okay, great. Just so we have a general idea of your position. Okay, Gunner, you are first...

[Gunnar] David, what can we expect from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High Special Editon that was recently announced.

[davidshin] Unfortunately we are still confirming the added value features but I can tell you we will include: An audio commentary, "making of" documentary with never before seen interviews, a special "map" highlighting locations from the film...and other elements not confirmed. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is Greg...

[Greg] Good evening David. First off, congrats to all of you at Universal. Many of my favorite DVDs have come out of your studio. One of your first releases was BABE. Sadly, this one was released in Pan and Scan. Are there plans to re-release this classic in (hopefully anamorphic) widescreen?

[davidshin] No immediate plans but this is a title (like several others) we are considering releasing an anamorphic widescreen version in the future. Done.

[Greg] Thanks. I'll buy it in a heartbeat.

[RonEpstein] Next up is Richard A

[RichardAlbreather] ok when will we see the Spielberg titles and American Pie

[davidshin] American Pie will be released this December. I want to add that our plans are to also release a special "Campus Comedy Classics" gift set that includes American Pie, Fast Times, and Animal House... American Pie features are still being worked out and you should hear an annoucement soon... As for the Spielberg titles...We have not confirmed our plans for any spielberg titles but hope to release some in the near future...

[Gunnar] Can we expect a Backdraft SE anytime soon with the additional network television footage?

[davidshin] We do plan to release a Backdraft Collector's Edition sometime next year. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is RIC....

[RIC] As I am a French Canadian from Quebec, I am concerned with French tracks. What's your plan on this for future release?..Done

[davidshin] French tracks are on a case by case basis. We try to release titles with French tracks when they are available to us. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is Steve Wiley

[SteveWiley] OK. Mr. Shin, I'd like to know if you could comment on how the Back to the Future trilogy will be presented on DVD. Are deleted scenes a possibilty? Thanks!

[davidshin] We are currently discussion several scenarios -- individually and/or a gift set. As for added value...Never-before-seen documentary including interviews, and other elements. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is KVIT....

[Kvit] Hello Mr. Shin, are there any eagerly anticipated, bigtime movies in the works for DVD (i.e. Spielberg's Jurassic Park)?

[davidshin] Yes. Although I unfortunately can not be very specific. We would like to release a Spielberg title but as you all know, this involves Steven himself and we are currently in discussions...Done.

[RonEpstein] Gunnar is up...

[Gunnar] Can we expect a reissue of Scarface and Twins. The quality of these dvds are not to the current Universal standards.

[davidshin] Not in the near future. These are titles that we would consider re-releasing further in the future. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is Jerry

[Jerry] Will classic horror films like the invisible man & dracula be released on DVD?

[davidshin] Yes. Dracula will be released in December. Three versions of Dracula will be on the disk: the original unscored version, the new scored version (by Phillip Glass and the Kronos Quartet), and the original Spanish version. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is Greg...

[Greg] You've recently revisited some of your earlier releases with special editions. Any titles currently planned that you can announce?

[davidshin] We just announced Liar Liar Collect Ed for October. We are working on Backdraft and Conan The Barbarian. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is StevenA

[StevenA] I applaud Universal for the classic horroe SEs (Dracula sounds wonderful!). Will lesser known films like Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man and, especially, The Old Dark House get the same special treatment? Done.

[davidshin] Yes, when they are released. We have not scheduled their releases at this time, however. Done.

[guest91971] Are Universal and Amblin in discussions to release catalog titles such as Jaws?

[davidshin] Yes. Although plans are not confirmed. Done.

[JeffUlmer] I asked a question a bout Legend did that get through?

[davidshin] Legend is currently not on our schedule. Done.

[RIC] Again of french track...Why most of them are available only in stereo 2, not in 5.1?

[davidshin] We usually release the french tracks in the audio tracks that are available to us. When they are available in 5.1, we will use it. Done.

[Kvit] Hello again, I'd like to ask who determines which titles can be THX certified...or which titles deserve to be THX certified?

[davidshin] This is a question for our Technical Ops group which unfortunately am unable to answer for you...Done.

[Greg] I've been eagerly pre-ordering all of the Universal Classic Horror. But I'd also love to buy some of Universal's classic film noir. Though you've released some titles through image (notably Double Indemnity), any plans for additional noir releases?

[davidshin] We have a number of film noir titles we are currently reviewing but at the moment, we have not confirmed our plans. We undoubtedly will release some in the future. Done.

[Holden] "Any plans for the other Eastwood titles in your catalogue, specifically PLAY MISTY FOR ME and COOGAN'S BLUFF? "(BTW,thanks for THE BEGUILED!)

[davidshin] Both titles are under consideration and will be released in the future. Unfortunately I don't have a timeframe for you...Done.

[AshleyWooten] Can you give us an update on Touch of Evil? Is there work being done for a CE release?

[davidshin] We have not scheduled the release at this time. When we do, we will consider a CE version of the title. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is SID....

[Sid] Any plans to use the same multi-angle thingy on the Mallrats commentary so future titles?

[davidshin] I would hope so. We really liked this feature and hope to enhance it for future titles. Done.

[PeterMFitzgerald] ...classic cartoons & TV show compilations on DVD...Walter Lantz

[davidshin] These titles are being considered but have not been confirmed....

Kvit] My last question for you Mr. Shin: Recently, Dreamworks' Prince of Egypt contains sneak preview trailers in the special features of their dvd, will we be seeing sneak preview trailers from universal?

[davidshin] Yes. Beginning with The Mummy (Sept 28 street), we will be placing sneak previews of upcoming theatrical releases on many of our titles. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is RIC...

[RIC] What's the best selling DVD title released until now by Universal? ...Done

[davidshin] If you combine the two versions of Patch Adams, it would be this title. Next is Meet Joe Black with Mercury Rising closely following...Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is STEPHEN A

[StephenAnsley] Thanks for joining us David. The current DVD release of Dune is not anamorphic and has few features... Are there any plans for a SE or rerelease that is anamorphic? Done.

[davidshin] This is a title we will most likely revisit for a future release (new version). As to any specifics, nothing has been confirmed. Done.

[PeterMFitzgerald] David, what determines which Universal films are released on DVD by Universal, and which go to Anchor Bay & Criterion? Who should I request lesser-known titles like MURDER HE SAYS (1945), GAMBIT (1966), ARABESQUE (1966)?

[davidshin] We constantly evaluate which titles we decide to license to these companies, but generally speaking, we are moving toward releasing more of our own titles (rather than licensing them out). Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is RICHARD A

[RichardAlbreather] Will we be seeing more examples of 2 different versions of a movie released at the same time like the mummy if so which titles?

[davidshin] Possibly. The title will have to really warrant two versions but no immediate plans are in the works for future title. We will also consider DVD18 as an alternative...Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is RobbieRyan

[robbieryan] on the subject of double disc releases, can we expect to see most a-list Universal titles released in both a DD and a DTS version? What percentage does DTS amount to in the whole Universal scheme?

[davidshin] Yes. We will be releasing our first DD/DTS version in December -- The Red Violin. As for the future, we are moving toward releasing both audio tracks on the same disk for many of our titles but as you know, it is difficult due to capacity issues. We will try to do this whenever possible...

============= FEEDBACK TIME ============

[davidshin] I would like to go back to the question Richard asked... Can I get some feedback as to everyone's opinion of releasing two versions -- full frame and widescreen -- positive or negative?

[RichardAlbreather] positive

[robbieryan] negitive (done)

[Jonathan] Anamorphic or nothing.

[PeterMFitzgerald] Positive, but always err to widescreen.

[Parker] only original aspect ratio

[RIC] Widescreen.......

[Sid] 16X9 Widescreen always

[RonEpstein] I think both versions are attractive to all audiances, but widescreen is the true format

[MikeVoigt] definitely widescreen, understand full frame (market share) ;)

[TimWinders] positive, prefer widescreen (or original aspect ratio) [robbieryan] i meant to say widescreen.

[StephenAnsley] Would be better to do both on one disk (DVD18), but always anamorphic. Done

[RichardAlbreather] both versions on one disc

[AshleyWooten] Same disc is fine, two are confusing.

[RichardAlbreather] it will help the market go

[RonEpstein] Yes, two discs are unecessary and I am sure not cost effective

[StephenAnsley] Same disk, but not if it compromises quality or features.

[TimRaffey] negative because vid. stores might want to carry the P&S version for regular joes.

[StephenAnsley] Two versions lead to a lot of confusion when ordering on the 'net.

[PeterMFitzgerald] My response was referring to both formats on the same disc. No Full-Frame-Only DVDs for me.

[RichardAlbreather] if big titles such as american pie have both versions with good extras and a good price it will sell great

[Parker] full frame if it was shot full frame widescreen if it was shot full frame. Original directors intent.

[davidshin] Thanks for the feedback. Rest assured, our direction is Anamorphic W/S at a minimum...Done.

========== BACK TO QUESTIONS ============

[robbieryan] Back to the whole DTS thing. How come when DTS LDS came out we had great Universal titles like Jurassic Park and now it seems that we are waiting for Spielberg. Is that the case?

[davidshin] Yes. Spielberg is very involved with deciding which of his titles are released on DVD. We hope to release one or more sometime next year. At this moment, however, nothing has been confirmed...Done.

[RonEpstein] Okay, STEPHENA is next...

[StephenAnsley] Thanks for staying so late, David. Any concrete plans for a release of The Birds on DVD? And might it get special treatment like Psycho (1960) did? Done

[davidshin] Absolutely. Birds should be released sometime next year. Done.

[PeterMFitzgerald] David, how about double features of older, compatible, under-90-minute films on one DVD? I'm thinking of the W.C. Fields films, film noirs, or the contents of Universal's two GOLDEN AGE OF SCI-FI THRILLERS laserdisc box sets on two DVD-18s, etc. Thank you & good evening to you.

[davidshin] We will be releasing our first double-feature this December -- Holiday Inn/Going My Way -- and will be releasing future double-features. The titles you listed are under consideration. Done.

[RonEpstein] Next up is JONATHAN...

[Jonathan] Thanks. I am not sure if this has been covered but what position do you and others take on 6.1 audio and will you release title's in this audio format even if the equipment for home users isn't there yet?

[davidshin] There are no immediate plans to release 6.1 audio. As it becomes more prevalent, we will consider for the future.

============= MORE FEEDBACK ===============

[davidshin] Ron, if it's okay, I would like to ask a couple of questions to the group. Can I assume since we are online, most of you buy your DVDs online? If not, where?

[RichardAlbreather] i buy them in stores

[Parker] I buy mine online or Best Buy

[Ned_V] i buy mostly online, better pricing

[StephenAnsley] I have 105 DVDs, 104 were purchased online...

[Ryan] Yes most buy them online with coupons for a very good prices

[RonEpstein] Online exclusively

[Jonathan] Yes, DVDExpress,, and occasionally Wal-Mart.

[StuRosen] Online only

[TimWinders] online

[PeterMFitzgerald] Online, Ken Crane's &, others.

[RIC] In stores...Wal-Mart and Future Shop

[MikeVoigt] online more and more - digital eyes - but also at best buy

[TimRaffey] street prices are good in Canada so I buy many from stores, Online if it's a good deal (shipping and customs stings though)

[davidshin] Great. What bonus features do you like most?


[RichardAlbreather] commentaries, trailers, featurettes

[Ned_V] commentaries, *real* making-of commentaries, trailers and previews

[TimWinders] trailers, director's commentaries

[RonEpstein] commentaries, trailers, behind-the-scenes

[Ryan] commentary tracks, music videos, trailers, deleted scenes

[Jonathan] Trailers, Commentaries, multi-angle

[RonEpstein] yes, deleted scenes

[StephenAnsley] Anamorphic transfers first and foremost! Though not really a feature...

[RIC] More trailers...please

[PeterMFitzgerald] Trailers, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, good documentaries.

[MikeVoigt] audio racks, behind scenes, picture galleries, deleted scenes - and cool menus ;)

[StephenAnsley] Audio commentaries are always wonderful!

[Jonathan] Animated Menus is a plus

[Ryan] animated menus (like Babe pig in the city) are great too, but not the most important part

[StephenAnsley] I also enjoy deleted scenes...

[TimRaffey] commentaries, deleted scenes, more great documeantaries (which Universal exels at)

[davidshin] Great. What features would you like to see on future Universal titles (that you haven't seen...)?

[RichardAlbreather] deleted scenes definately

[Parker] trailers and deleted scenes added back in

[PeterMFitzgerald] I dislike 'Entertainment Tonight'-type fluff documentaries/featurettes.

[StuRosen] Reviews of the film

[TimRaffey] alternate angles

[RonEpstein] I think most all features have been utilized

[StephenAnsley] How about multi angle?

[StuRosen] Chapter selection (only kidding...)

[PeterMFitzgerald] LOL

[Ryan] I would really really like to see your movies such as Babe and Babe pig in the city have special editions with commentary tracks and widescreen anamorphic

[Parker] running commentaries with the movie ala laserdisc.

[RIC] Future release...

[MikeVoigt] 480p

[RichardAlbreather] both aspect ratios

[davidshin] Next question: how many of you are planning to buy The Mummy?

[RonEpstein] bought

[RichardAlbreather] me

[StuRosen] Me.

[Ned_V] already ordered it

[TimWinders] no

[Ryan] not me

[StuRosen] Bought it.

[MikeVoigt] me

[Jonathan] Already got it on pre-order!

[Parker] nope


[StephenAnsley] I already pre-ordered it a few weeks ago. Widescreen version!

[Gunnar] preorder widescreen.

[TimRaffey] if I can find it for $25 CAN

[davidshin] Thanks for the feedback!

========= BACK TO QUESTIONS ===========

[RonEpstein] I have the last question... Getting back to the all important SPIELBERG. How cooperative is Spielberg becoming to UNIVERSAL in releasing his best films, and, in your opinion, are we close to seeing his films being released by UHV?

[davidshin] With the release of Saving Private Ryan on DVD (Nov. 2), Spielberg is definitely supportive of the format. This is probably the most frequently asked question (next to the Back To the Future trilogy...) and is difficult to answer b/c there are numerous factors in deciding what and when to release these special titles... Even if Spielberg agrees to release a title, other factors come in to play such as: the right time of the year, special anniversaries, special joint-programs with our VHS counterpart, available added value features, availability of cast and crew for special interviews, for whether we are I mentioned earlier, I hope to see something next year...Done.

[RonEpstein] That was a great answer. Why has Spielberg been so reluctant to release his titles to DVD up until now?

[davidshin] Depending on who you ask, you will get 100 different answers... I really can't speak for him but it is obvious that every studio have certain titles that they have decided (for whatever reason) not to release on DVD. I think as the consumer base continues to grow you will see more studios releasing these "big" titles...Done.

[RonEpstein] David... On behalf of all of us here... We wish to thank you for your time. This is absolutely great that UHV cares about us, the consumers. We would love to have you back again -- anytime!

[davidshin] Thanks to all and great feedback!

[StephenAnsley] Thank you, David. Have a wonderful weekend.

[MikeVoigt] anytime!

[Ryan] Thanks Ron Parker and David!!!!!

[Parker] Thanks for taking the time out of your evening to join us. Have a great weekend.

[TimWinders] Thanks for your time, David!

[Jonathan] Thank you.

[PeterMFitzgerald] Night, David! Thanks!

[RichardAlbreather] cant wait for american pie dave

[Doug] Thanks David!

[Ned_V] good night david... and thanks

Session Close: Fri Sep 24 23:45:50 1999

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