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Muppet Christmas Carol on DVD?

Discussion in 'Muppet Merchandise' started by dlphntat, Apr 16, 2002.

  1. smcguire

    smcguire Well-Known Member

    On the other hand, there's no point writing to addresses that can't do anything to help you and may toss the letters. I can't say if that's the case for any of the addresses above; what I do know is that the 800 numbers and the disneyinfo@disneyhelp.com e-mail address are the two that were given out on DVD forums and Disney themselves as the ones to use for feedback. But if you know the snail mail addresses above will result in the message getting to people who can act on them and won't get annoyed by a (possible) deluge of letters, then by all means use them.

    I really don't think "hassle" is what you want to do here; you want to send polite and firm feedback. If you "hassle" by calling or writing repeatedly and angrily, they'll just write you off as a wacko and may assume everyone else is just a wacko too.

    Unfortunately for Muppet Treasure Island, it may already be too late, at least for the initial release - DVDs have enough lead time that the discs have probably already authored. The best we may be able to hope for is that Disney will decide to make an supplementary widescreen release later (as Warner Bros did with "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"). It's probably not impossible for them to reverse direction at this point if they really wanted to hurry and fix it, but it seems unlikely. If they need to make a new anamorphic transfer of the film (the previous widescreen laserdisc was not anamoprhic), that takes time. But for Muppet Christmas Carol, there's definitely still time.

    And I seriously doubt it's Henson's decision. These two are being done differently simply because they're being released by a different company (all the other Muppet movies were released by Columbia Tristar). It might not hurt to let Henson Co. know that you aren't happy with this either, but unfortunately I've learned that often the movie's creators have surprisingly little control over video releases.

    Disney may have said to Henson, "we're doing fullscren releases or none at all, which do you chose?" And what would you do if you were Henson in that case? That's complete speculation, though.

    I believe something for the main site is in the works.

    --Scott McGuire
  2. smcguire

    smcguire Well-Known Member

    Just to clarify, I'm not calling anyone here a wacko. We just want to avoid appearing like wackos. :) It makes it easier for them to dismiss us. We want to appear to be concerned customers (and Muppet fans).

    And probably letters to the president will get routed to some sensible location, I may have been being too cautious there.

    And finally, while Disney may have already done the work on Muppet Treasure Island, that doesn't mean it's not worth trying to get them to change their minds about it!

    --Scott McGuire
  3. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Hey Scott

    When i said "Hassle" i was using Luke language that people here are usually pretty used to - i didn't really mean for them to stage all out naked protests in the Buena Vista offices .... although it would be quite an acomplishment for me if they did ! ;-)

    I think writing directly to a few people might help make a difference. Usually if you are writing to the main 'official' addresses you will just get a standard pre-worked and sugar coated reply UNLESS they get thousands of emails or calls that make them sit up and take notice. If however you write to someone directly higher up the ladder it only takes a few letters or calls to get them to at least sit up and take notice, and hopefully make some enquiries. At least if someone in the know wrote and told us the definitive answer as to why this has been done, and if there is a remote chance it could be changed then it's all worth it. I'm guessing that a post here on the forum or a mention on one muppet site isn't going to result in thousands of emails so i figured the direct approach was the best one given the circumstances and also the time factor. Of course people are free to write who they like and now they have all the info whichever path they choose to take.
  4. smcguire

    smcguire Well-Known Member

    Hi Luke,

    My apologies, I admit I am new here and I'm not familiar with Luke-speak. :) I'm a regular and longtime poster on the Muppet newsgroup, and after seeing my post about the DVDs there, Phillip suggested I check out this forum thread. And yeah, chaining ourselves to the Buena Vista offices would get there attention, and be a very Muppet sort of thing to do as well. Well, at least, a very Gonzo or Animal sort of thing to do.

    And you're absolutely right, you never know what will happen if the right letter gets through to the right person - which is why I followed up my post and said I was probably being too cautious in that regard.

    According to Disney (according to the DVD websites), they've decided to take the full-frame approach based on complaints they've received on the customer feedback phone line, so it seems like maybe they do listen to that.

    But heck... call 'em, e-mail 'em, and write the Presdient too!
  5. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Hey Scott

    Great to have you here and no apologies needed at all - i should have been more clearer.

    Heck i'm an advocate of doing what you can whether it's call the customer line, write to the president, bribe the CEO with home made cookies - i guess everything helps. I work with TV companies myself and i know just how much the public gets ignored when it comes to this kind of thing yet blagged off in a way that makes them think that the companies really care. Obviously though as you say - people need to be polite and show what widescreen deserving Muppet fans we are !

    I can understand what is being reported about people calling the customer care line and asking for full frame stuff - the average mom or dad will probably still have a full frame TV and i guess a small kid may well not like a smaller letterboxed picture. Obviously though DVD's are meant to be for collectors too and the whole idea is that you can see the film in its original format so they should really include both formats - its not like it costs them that much more to do.

    It does seem wierd though that the Muppet DVD's are the only ones (from memory) in the current crop of releases that are full frame. I guess its just laziness and them cutting costs down to a minimum that they just transfer their original full frame video cassette version over to DVD.
  6. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Dick Tracy will also be full frame. I like the film and have waited years for a DVD release - a widescreen one at that - the art direction is half the film! But Disney has seen fit to release a crummy version of this Warren Beatty film.

    One of my friends who is a huge Madonna fan won't be buying the DVD and he buys the same CD four times if there is a slight color variation on the cover art! Actually he'd buy eight - four to open and four to keep wrapped. Surprising that even he won't touch this disrespectful release. LOL!

    But on a serious note - this is a film with top stars and directed by the Academy Award winner, Reds. I just don't get it. Chris Carey (Disney exec) stated in the recent article mentioned earlier that having both versions on a disc makes the DVD difficult to navigate, it degrades the quality of the image and if there is double side printing there can be no silkscreen (which bite anyway). Argh, so frustrating and really not entirely true. It’s just his way of excusing the company from being cheap and brainless.
  7. kustomboy

    kustomboy Active Member

    CAPTAIN RON GETS WIDESCREEN?!?!?!?! and the muppets get FULL FRAME??!?!?!?!??! something has gone terribly wrong.
  8. smcguire

    smcguire Well-Known Member

    Actually, the Muppet movies aren't the only victims... Disney just released "Snow Dogs" as full frame only, and reportedly the upcoming "Max Keeble's Big Move" will be full frame only as well. Both of these are "family" titles too.

    "Dick Tracy" is something of a special case; apparently Warren Beatty filmed it with the intention of it being 4:3 aspect ratio (and thus full frame on a TV), intending for the movie to look like old-fashioned movies. But it was cropped to the widescreen aspect ratio for its theatrical release. So the 4:3 version of "Dick Tracy" actually has more information than the widescreen version. The question in this case is, should a movie be released as it was in theatres (as how people remember it) or as the director intended?

    At least that's better than the case with these two Muppet movies, where full frame is neither what the director intended nor what we saw in movie theaters.

    Luke: I have no illusions about how much the entertainment conglomerates really care about what the customers think (that is, not much). I've worked with some folks who produce TV shows, and that's how I know how little control the producers may have over how their creations get released on video.

    And yeah, I'm guessing partly they didn't want to spend time and money doing a new transfer of the two Muppet movies.
  9. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    When the two films were released on Laserdisc several years ago, thwy had widescreen versions. I am sure that a new transfer would not have to be made. It must already be somewherer in digital form wating to be zapped on a DVD. Argh! Never knww that about Tracy. Are you sure? Where does the info come from?
  10. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member


    Were the laserdiscs actually released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment ?
  11. smcguire

    smcguire Well-Known Member

    Ah, but the laserdiscs were not anamorphic widescreen, so if they wanted to release an anamorphic widescreen DVD (which almost all DVDs these days are), they would have to do a new transfer.

    Non-anamorphic widescreen makes DVDphiles almost as annoyed as full frame transfers (because of the lost resolution) but I think I might settle for it in this case, although obviously I'd prefer anamorphic ones!

    I don't know if the laserdiscs were issued by Buena Vista; a fellow fan confirmed they weren't anamorphic on the Muppets newsgroup but didn't say who released them.

    My info on the Dick Tracy release was from a recent thread on alt.video.dvd, and the review on DVDFile also touches on it briefly.
  12. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Buena Vista did release the Laserdiscs along with the VHS version.
  13. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Luke & smcguire

    The MTI laserdisc I own was released by Jim Henson Video and Walt Disney Pictures and distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment so I guess the answer is yes. LOL! So much writing etc!

    smcguire- Ah, you are right, but I am suspect the master from the laserdisc would still be higher res than the transfer they'd have to make. Laserdiscs still have superior quality, funny enough. I'll take anything - uncropped - I can get at this point.
  14. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

    I just e-mailed Buena Vista as well, just asking them to consider releasing the two DVDs in widescreen....

    I would just add that sending them RUDE e-mails/snail mails won't get us anywhere...that being polite and professional will get you a lot further than name calling. The crazier you sound, the less credence they'll give your opinion.

  15. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member


    Yeah i don't see why they don't stick the non-anamorphic version on the disk then, if Buena Vista already has it in the vaults then it's not gonna be much more work for them. Maybe when writing people could mention the non-anamorphic version that has previously been available from them.
  16. smcguire

    smcguire Well-Known Member

    Jamie - My understanding from reading DVD web sites and newsgroups is that if you want an anamorphic transfer and the only previous widescreen tranfer was non-anamorphic, they have to do a new transfer. I'm not sure why, and I admit this is just based on what I've read, not because I know the process.

    Luke - I'm not sure we should encourage Disney to do that; we don't want to give them the idea that we'll settle for less than an anamorphic transfer (because that is really what we want in an ideal world). That way, if they decide to listen and give us a widescreen transfer, maybe they'll do a whole new one, or they'll say to themselves, "Okay, they want widescreen? Use that old one we have," and it'll be better than nothing. If we give them ideas they may just immediately jump to the easy way out.

    Of course, it's possible that Disney's tasked someone to at least read over this discussion (they did ask me which website I'd heard about the DVDs being fullframe), in which case, they know all our secrets already. :)

  17. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    One reason for excluding the widescreeen veriosn that they give is that to place both versions on the disc, it will mean compression and loss of quality. When asked about double-siding the disk, they reply that it removes the opportunity of a sikscreening and that there are less machines that do this. I think it's a load of ****, but that's what they're saying.
  18. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member


    I have absolutely no idea what silkscreening is but i can understand that technically there might be some minute loss of quality when putting two versions on a DVD but then so many other companies do it and i doubt people have noticed that much. Obviously i guess Disney see this as a kids release and they want to aim it straight at kids (many of which i can understand would not want to see black bars on a screen). I do agree that it's a cop out and does not do justice to the film, and there is an adult audience out there that are left out because they aren't in the target audience. The thing i REALLY hate about DVD's and why i don't actually see them as 'Theatre Quality' like most people think they are is that layer transistion pause thing when you have a pause in the middle of the film while a layer changes. That ruins some DVD's for me.

    Smc :- Yeah i kinda realised that would be giving them the easy option of putting out the non-anamorphic but then you've got more chance of them doing that because it wouldn't cost them. They probably haven't even researched into the fact that they HAVE a widescreen version ready - it's all entries into databases and things these days. I actually would support the non-anamorphic version being released anyway. I guess it's not the way to specifically request that version but i'd at least hope they were aware thats an option.

    I still think we need a better method of contacting them. Usually when big websites run campaigns they do some research and find out who the actual person is responsible for producing the disc or making the decisions. Usually you can get a statement from them, sometimes you can even get an interview or something. For calls to general enquiries to work you need them to be on a massive scale otherwise they just get lost in the call logs along with "What size is Dumbo's trunk ?" and "Which dwarf does the commentary on the Snow White DVD ?". Phil posted that contacting 'Customer Services' was the most "effective" method of complaining but from personal experience, thats very untrue. Media companies rarely even go through the logs until around a month or so later, and you are only ever likely to get an "official" sugar coated response. Seeing as MC is going to town with the campaigns lately and promoting this as a top story perhaps some effort could actually be made to get to the bottom of it - contact Disney or Buena PR - ask them to read the threads and then comment on whats been said. You guys love the fact you have an "insider" here with Ken from Palisades - how about hunting out Joe Schmo from Disney ? Even as a common courtesy they are getting a bad rap here and they should be at least given the chance to respond.
  19. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    The silk-screening I was referring to is a technique to print a picture on one side of the DVD. A double-sided disk only has a small ribbon that deem difficult to read by kids, so all info is then compressed onto one side of a disk. It's cheaper too.

    I really think that if this is the way they are going to go, they should release collector’s editions for each film. Just putting "collectors edition" on a product increases it's sale value so I don't see why that's a bad idea. They claim stores don't like two versions of the same film, but doesn't Disney drive the market. I can't see Wal-Mart refusing to stock their titles because there are two versions.

    About the silk-screening - Disney's job on silk-screening these labels (for lack of a better word) totally sux! The images are poor quality and resolution and the grain is large and blobby. George Lucas' Ep 1 disc has some beautiful artwork, however it is more expensive because the company must purchase the colors in their "limited palette". I think Disney should abandon the practice altogether or use actual labels (printing would appear professional). Just my take.
  20. smcguire

    smcguire Well-Known Member

    Of course, saying that putting both versions on a disc reduces the quality is also a cop out when joined with the "this is for kids" argument... young kids are hardly likely to notice the slight drop in quality caused by putting both versions on the disc, are they?

    I have DVDs (besides the other Muppet movies) that put both widescreen and fullframe on one dual-layer DVD, and they look just fine to me, and I'm picky. Disney would just have to put some effort into the compression process to make sure the results were acceptable, which I'm guessing they're not willing to do.

    It would be nice to have a person to contact directly at Disney. But I'm sure there are other folks here who have better contacts in that regard for starting a search than me!


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