Sunday, 24 October 2004

What is Released on DVD

I have often wondered who determines what movies and TV shows are released on DVD and how they make that determination. The reason I have pondered this for a long time is it seems to me that there is often little rhyme and reason as to what is available on DVD and what is not.
A perfect example is the Judy Garland and Gene Kelly Summer Stock. It is regarded by many as a classic musical and has long been a favourite with fans. As I write this, however, it is still not available on DVD. On the other hand, For Me and My Gal, another teaming of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly and the first motion picture in which Gene Kelly starred, is available on DVD. While I don't know of anyone who seriously dislikes For Me and My Gal, most people I know regard Summer Stock as the superior of the two films. So why isn't Summer Stock available on DVD?

Indeed, Summer Stock is hardly the only classic film that is not on DVD. El Cid, the classic Sixties epic with Charlton Heston as the legendary hero, has never been on DVD either. What is worse is that I have never heard of any plans to release it. Given the continuing popularity of the film, I would think it would be an obvious choice for release on DVD too.

Of course, some films are released on DVD only to go out of print. The Beatles film Help! was released on DVD in 1997, but it is no longer being manufactured. There are still new and used copies to be bought, although the prices tend to be steeper than most DVDs. Indeed, the prices for copies of Help! would seem to indicate there is a demand for the movie. Indeed, I would think the fact that it is a Beatles movie and anything Beatles related tends to sell very, very well, would dictate that it would not have gone out of print. And yet, I have heard of no plans to re-release it on DVD.

The question of how it is decided what films are released on DVD becomes even more pointed when I think about just what is available on DVD. Cocktail, the 1988 movie in which Tom Cruise played a bartender, has been on DVD since 2002. Now, in my humble opinion, not only is Cocktail possibly Tom Cruise's worst film, it is also quite possibly one of the worst films of all time. I can name only a few other Hollywood products that are as dreadful as Cocktail, yet it is available on DVD, while Summer Stock and El Cid are not.

I am not only mystified by what films are released on DVD and what films are not, but also by which TV shows are released on DVD and which ones aren't. The Wild Wild West as long been a cult favourite and has had a long and successful syndication run. It continues to be a popular series to this day. Despite this fact, The Wild Wild West is not available on DVD, and I have heard of no plans to release on DVD. This would not be so puzzling, except that the first season of Just Shoot Me is out on DVD. Now Just Shoot Me was a show that critics did not regard highly and it never was a huge hit in the ratings. Its syndication run has not been a huge success. In fact, the only reason I believe it ran five years at all is that NBC kept on Tuesday and Thursday nights where at least some of the audiences for their higher rated sitcoms might just stay tuned. Regardless, its first season can be bought on DVD.

It makes little sense to me that classic movies like Summer Stock and El Cid are not available on DVD and classic shows like The Wild Wild West are not available on DVD, while lesser movies and shows are. I do have to wonder how it is determined what goes on DVD and what doesn't. At least Amazon has it set up to where people can let the powers that be know what they want on DVD. Let us say that someone does a search for Summer Stock on DVD. They would arrive at a page which would inform them that the title is not yet available. On that page would be a link that he or she could click to let Amazon know that they are interested in seeing Summer Stock on DVD. Amazon would then alert the owners of the copyright on Summer Stock that an individual wants Summer Stock on DVD. With any luck, if enough people want Summer Stock on DVD, then those owning the coypright would release it on DVD. While I don't know how effective Amazon can be in persuading companies to release their product on DVD, it at least gives fans an outlet to express their desires.

Anyhow, I do hope that eventually I do see Summer Stock, El Cid, and The Wild Wild West released on DVD. I would certainly buy them. Unfortunately, I don't kow how soon that will be...

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