DVD Companies. Should They Try Harder To Find Licenses?
Here's a bit of a pet hate of mine, well many actually.
I've just seen a long list of films from various Asian countries that have been licensed for release in the UK / USA by Tartan. Apart from the fact that most Tartan releases are lack-lustre and over priced (comparing UK to other countries issues), they're not exactly stretching their imagination. Perhaps these companies should look at little harder : there's tonnes of stuff out in Japan, other Asian countries, and the rest of the globe, on DVD which aren't here, yet they license things most fans will have bought already or decided to avoid.
I am personally also increasingly distressed by is the illegal cracking down on sites promoting and linking to foreign releases of films on DVD even when being sold by companies in the same country and not just abroad (mentions no names, it's too obvious); perhaps companies have to broaden their license choices to now also take into account so many fans of these films are buying from abroad. So, when licensing films, they should potentially avoid buying discs themselves they've seen discussed in forums, and then wonder why when they release them they're not that popular, as good as a foreign release, just not as cheap, or just too little too late. We don't know about everything out there : get a little knowledge and surprise us.
It also then links into my theory of "multiregion taste, multiregion player" - people interested in foreign movies are multiregion player owners for the most part, so surely the domestic market is limited - i welcome the cinema showings, and the chance for others to break into foreign films, but what is the likelyhood of this? and why don't people use the internet to find out more about this stuff in the first place? Where's the gap gone between the "company experts" and the "general public"? perhaps some of us find it very easy to get info on foreign films, or perhaps the whole films market is shifting because of DVD releases, giving rise to remakes galore and a more commercial exploitation of foreign cinema than ever before in the west, or at least since the days of smaller and more open-minded cinemas?
This licensing issue also affects the apparent trend to release in foreign countries without English subtitles because the films being released in the west at some point. It's actively annoying those fans of foreign cinema and alienating the hardcore fans who are effectively promoting films both to the public (other film fans with similar interests) and to the companies who go on to license products.
One of the big plusses of DVD is the ability to watch films from any country as long as it's released. My personal buying policy is to buy what i want to see but can't see unless i buy it; everything else is rented, borrowed or seen at the cinema. I can't see why people buy blockbuster films they've enjoyed at the cinema, mostly because i've been through a period in my life when i couldn't afford to buy Laserdisc or VHS tapes of great foreign releases. As a teenager i used to just request catalogues from abroad just to salivate over the films out there, even though there was never anyway i could afford to spend hundreds of dollars on one Laserdisc. I would mark things that caught my eye an imagine being able to see them, and now those days when i can are here, it's the best time ever to be interested in finding more from your viewing habit.
There's still a huge amount of people spending money on a DVD because they've already seen it, and know what they're going to get : i find that incredibly odd, almost ridiculous. I am not saying i know exactly what i am doing when i pick somthing out to buy : far from it, it's actually mostly instinct or an "educated guess" that mostly pays off. I like "blind buying" : it's rewarding, refreshing, and great fun.
Ofcourse, everyones entitled to spend their money how they like, but don't people realise how much they're missing out on? There's always a surprised post popping up on a forum regarding a film from another country that's obviously better than alot of the cack coming from the USA, that goes something like "I can't believe this film!!!! so COOOL... AWESOME!!!!" or "I never thought films like this were made in other countries / in the past!!!! wicked!!!" - you know, people who think the best things ever made are being made now and in the USA. Thoroughly illogical thinking, that's almost amounting tho the belief that everything's at its pinicle and unbeatable by anyone outside "there and then". If it ever was more apparent we're living on a planet and not just in a country it should be right now, surely.
OK, so some now are thinking "we don't all have money to burn" or "we don't all have money to spend on things when we don't know if we will like it"... sure, it's a risk, but with huge rewards : since when was mediocrity an acceptable aim? since when was risk not dangerous? since when was it not more rewarding than avoiding risk? And, as far as risks go, if it doesn't cost more than a mainstream taste in Hollywood movies, then surely it's no more risk than you we're already willing to take?
I liked what someone said recently, and i can't remember who it was or where it was said, but it was something like "Who does America make films for?" - other countries clearly have a priority in their domestic audience, and any consideration for foreign audiences either doesn't happen or it way back in their minds. America however seems to think it's job is to entertain the globe, mainly for financial reasons, but there's also a more sinister element to it which i can't quite identify. Stepping beyond the boundaries a little will effect not just the viewer but eventually the companies who release films, perhaps forcing them to rethink their ideas about how successful a film can be abroad without it being specifically designed to do so.
So, I always hope we get more of the strangeness that's out there. I am sure there's much already here - but that's another issue about how on earth you let people know what's out there.
Here's what Tartan have licesed recently : see how many you've bought, seen, know you aren't interested in...
AB-NORMAL BEAUTY, THE EYE 2 and RE-CYCLE. DEAD OR ALIVE FINAL (final of the triogy by Miike), GRAVEYEARD OF HONOR (Miike again, supposed to have come out January 2004), DEADLY OUTLAW REKKA (by Miike, out in USA on DVD). OLD BOY (erm, yes : out in Korea on DVD), JOINT SECURITY AREA (out in several countries on DVD), SPIDER FOREST (out in Korea on DVD this month), PHONE (out on DVD), SAVE THE GREEN PLANET (out on DVD) , BUNSHINABA: OUIJA BOARD and SWORD IN THE MOON. SÉANCE (by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, out on DVD), BRIGHT FUTURE (snap! out on DVD in Korea and Japan), SAMURAI REINCARNATION (by Kinji Fukasaku). TWILIGHT SAMURAI (got the HK disc), WHEN THE LAST SWORD IS DRAWN (snap!), CHAOS (by Hideo Nakata, out on DVD in Japan for years - not too hot a film) and MAREBITO (by shinya Tsukamoto - one noteable entry on the list). UNBORN and UNBORN BUT FORGOTTEN.
Tell me if i missed anything : i have commented next to the most obvious releases out there.
see the excellent gorezone.net here. If anyone ever want to recommend something that's not really discussed online often, if at all, I am always willing to listen to information, opinions and so on : trailers are even better... I want more variety not less.