Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Now On DVD ... Not!
Wondering why your favorite movie — whether it’s “The African Queen,” the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup” or the new directors’ cut of “Blade Runner” — still isn’t out on DVD? Fred Kaplan reports in Tuesday’s “New York Times” that the reasons are legion, but that confusion caused by years of media mergers and acquisitions tops the list. Often the company that own a film, Kaplan reports, can’t even find the original negative. Other times, ownership itself is in dispute.

In addition, older films are often in poor condition; up to now, many studios have been unwilling to pony up the money needed to repair the damage and search decades of archives to find the best extant materials. And in many cases, studios find that older films, even well-known ones, just don’t sell in volume: according to an anonymous video-distribution exec quoted in the article, “Unless it's `Casablanca' or `Citizen Kane,' the studios will sell 100 times more copies of a bad action film made three years ago than they'll sell of a great film that they've dug out of the archive."

In other words, if you’re looking for “2 Fast 2 Furious,” just head to Blockbuster next month. If you’re waiting for “Gaslight,” “Death in Venice,” or “Days of Wine and Roses” … don’t hold your breath.

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