Site created 12/15/97.
page created: 11/16/00
Fox's X-Men DVD Event
20th Century Fox
Studios - Century City, CA - 11/10/00
The Zanuck Theater
on the Fox lot.
Last Friday morning, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment held a
special promotional event in honor of their upcoming X-Men
DVD, for the press and members of the
Theater Forum, who had come to town for their annual studio
pilgrimage. The event was held in the studio's Zanuck Theater, in
the shadow of the infamous "Nakatomi" building from Die
Hard (which is actually where most of the studio has its
executive offices, including home video). The theater is also
surrounded by a trio of soundstages where Fox's The
X-Files is filmed, which only added to the day's
Greeting the attendees were plenty of Fox staffers (including most
of the DVD team), lots of food and drinks and displays of props used
in the filming of X-Men. The
event featured a trio of special guests, including X-Men
director Bryan Singer, X-Men
creator Stan Lee and VP of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige.
Theater Forum members and press.
The actual presentation began with a sneak peak at numerous
upcoming DVD titles by members of the DVD staff. It was revealed
that Fox is planning to be very active with DVD in 2001, expecting
to release some 70+ titles. Starting in January, the studio plans to
go back to 3 titles they've released previously, making them a
little more appealing for consumers. January 23rd will see the
re-release of The X-Files: Fight the
Future, The Thin Red Line
and The Last of the Mohicans,
all with anamorphic widescreen transfers (only Thin
Red Line was anamorphic previously) and all with dual
Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks on the same disc. February will
see the release of 2 more "double feature" discs, this
time including some college comedy favorites. The first disc will
feature Revenge of the Nerds
and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in
Paradise, while the second will include Porky's
and Porky's II: The Next Day.
March will feature a science fiction theme, and will see the DVD
release of Alien Nation, Enemy
Mine and Zardoz. In
the months that follow in early 2001, you can also look forward to
Point Break (with dual Dolby
Digital and DTS sound), a Big Trouble in
Little China: Special Edition, Chain
Reaction and Unlawful Entry.
2001 will also see a number of 5 Star editions, the first of which
will be a 3-disc set of the fully restored Cleopatra.
The 4 ½ hour film will be made available on 2 discs (broken at
the intermission), along with a disc of supplemental material,
including such things as screen test footage and more. Die
Hard will appear as another 5 Star title some time around
mid-year. And Die Hard 2 & 3
will be re-released at the same time as special editions. All three
releases will be 2-disc sets, and will include anamorphic widescreen
video and dual Dolby Digital and DTS audio. Also around mid year
will be a terrific Marilyn Monroe
Platinum Collection boxed set, featuring Bus
Stop, How to Marry a
Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer
Blondes, The Seven Year Itch,
There's No Business Like Show Business
and a bonus disc that includes her finished and restored final film,
The Last Days. All of the
films have been completely restored for DVD. And among the other 5
Star titles to look for are M.A.S.H.
and The French Connection
(plus one additional title TBD).
TV will also feature prominently in the studio's plans in 2001.
Look for The X-Files: The Complete Third
Season to be released early in the year, with The
Complete Fourth Season following in the fall. Seasons of
The Simpsons, M.A.S.H.
and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
will also be released in 2001, although Buffy
will not appear here in the States until late in the year. The UK
DVD release will go forward as planned in January (the U.S. release
had been slated for 1/9/00). The reason for the delay here has to do
with the complicated nature of the U.S. domestic syndication rights,
in which Warner Bros. is obviously involved. The DVDs will be
released eventually, and will hopefully be the better for the delay.
Marvel Studios VP
Kevin Feige, X-Men creator Stan Lee and director Bryan Singer
(middle L to R) chat with Fox's Peter Staddon (far right) and Sven
Davison (far left).
Following the sneak peek, came the main event. Singer, Lee and
Feige took the stage to participate in a panel discussion about X-Men,
the DVD and the future of the franchise. Singer revealed that he
wasn't initially interested in directing the film, because he had
never been a big comic book fan. And all of the comic book films
he'd seen before tended to be campy. But a meeting with Lee
convinced him to participate. "Stan's energy and excitement
towards the notion of doing this as a film really got to me,"
he said. "I think that whatever film you're making, you should
take the subject matter seriously. That's what I loved about the old
Star Trek series. As absurd
and as strange as it was, they took it seriously. And I felt that
one of the key ways to send that kind of signal to audiences here
was to cast good, serious actors. I think Patrick Stewart and Ian
McKellan ground the film and give it an elegance that really serves
the film well."
For his own part, Lee was very happy with the final result. "All
I have to do is create the characters. Really the most important
thing - whether it's a comic book or a movie, no matter how
fantastic - is to create characters that are believable and that the
audience will empathize with. Once you do that, the story can be as
outrageous as possible - it doesn't matter. That's why I was so
excited to meet Bryan, because the guy who did the The
Usual Suspects, which is one of the best movies I've ever
seen - the characters are so beautifully defined. The idea that a
director like that was going to do one of my cockamamie comic book
stories - I couldn't get over it. He just lived up to every
As a result of the success of this film, Singer is a very busy man.
He's currently negotiating with Fox to direct the sequel. And he was
also very involved in the making of this DVD. "You didn't used
to think about the DVD until the film was done. But now, you're
thing about it really very early on. I believe a film is written
three times: once on the page, once on the set and once in the
editing room. And it's nice to have that place where you can show
things that didn't make it into the final film - to give people a
look at the theater that happens when you make a film. It's also a
good place to show all of the design elements that I, as the
director, get excited about, but which the audience doesn't normally
get to see."
As many of you know, there have been many rumors about a possible
2nd DVD version of X-Men, with
more deluxe features, being released next year. Singer made it clear
that, while he does have plans (with Fox) to revisit X-Men
at some point in the future, that isn't going to happen any time
soon. Part of the reason that he didn't do a commentary for this
DVD, was that he was right in the middle of doing press tours. "It
was impossible to set it up [the schedule] in such a way that I'd
have the right collaborators with me in the room to watch the film
for a commentary. And also, it was right after the film came out and
I didn't think I could do it justice - it wouldn't have been a
worthwhile commentary. I don't think it will be for some time, until
I can have some perspective on the movie. We had a confined amount
of time to get this DVD done, and my first priority was to make sure
that the film looked and sounded as good as possible, which takes up
more disc space. There are more deleted scenes and outtakes that I'd
like to show and include some day, but there's no set plan for a
series of additional DVD releases. There's nothing scheduled."
Fox's Peter Staddon revealed that X-Men
was their fastest (and toughest) DVD production to date. Due to the
time constrains and the schedule deadlines, the studio had only 5
weeks to get the DVD mastered, from start to finish, in order to
start replicating it for a November release.
Kevin Feige also had some interesting input on X-Men
from Marvel's perspective. He believes that the success of X-Men
and New Line's Blade heralds
the beginning of a new age in comic book adaptations to the big
screen. "We've had all of Stan's creations in development for a
long time, and the big opening weekend we had with X-Men
really got everyone excited about them again - Spiderman
at Sony, Hulk at Universal and
Fantastic Four at Fox.
Finally, studios are starting to realize that the audience is there."
In Kevin's mind, among the best aspects of all this success is that
the campy bent that the old Batman
TV series has long forced upon comic book films is finally a thing
of the past. "These characters aren't just guys in funny
costumes. They're people with problems, concerns and everyday
situations. And these characters can still be the heroes that you
know and love from the comics... even without the yellow Spandex."
X-Men creator Stan
Marvel Studios VP
Following the panel discussion, Fox President Pat Wyatt gave the
audience a sneak peek at trailers for 4 more upcoming Fox films,
including Tom Hanks in Castaway.
Then there was an opportunity to chat in more detail with Singer,
Lee and Feige, followed by lunch. Then, members of the Home Theater
Forum were treated like VIPs throughout the afternoon. They were
taken to special DVD screenings of X-Men
and Me, Myself and Irene, and
were given a demonstration of the restoration work that Fox has
recently completed on the upcoming Marilyn Monroe films. As they
say, "A good time was had by all."
Before I forget, here's a look at some of the sights that were on
effects model of the X-Jet.
And right next
door, Stage 5... the Truth is in there.
All in all, the day was informative and entertaining. And for the
HTF guests, it was a rare opportunity to give one on one feedback to
a studio about their DVD product. We'd like to thank everyone at
20th Century Fox for putting on a great event, and to Singer, Lee
and Feige for their time and comments. Fox is definitely the most
proactive studio when it comes to DVD, and we definitely hope to see
that continue with their plans for 2001.
For those who'd like to read more about this event and the other
adventures of the Home Theater Forum in California, head on over to
link at HTF for their complete report. And you'll find more
pictures of this event, and others from the HTF's California trip,
clicking here. Enjoy!
As always, I welcome your comments.