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DVD Producer: Tough Job, But They're Happy to Have It

30 Jul, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

The ever-shrinking window between theatrical release and home video release may be a boon to retail, but it's murder on DVD producers. It's getting harder and harder to get DVD bonus materials ready in time for what is increasingly becoming a four-month (or less) window for home video as compared to the old six-month window of not too long ago.

That compressed time frame, and the now major importance of video revenue for studios, means that producers now have a whole lot more pressure on them and more people having a hand in the DVD production process than ever before. It's a trade off for what has become a pretty high-profile job in Hollywood.

A story in the Aug. 1 issue of Video Store Magazine covering a DVD producers panel at Comic-Con points to a number of challenges DVD producers are facing these days and why bonus features may be more predictable and slickly produced these days but, perhaps, not quite so edgy or risky. DVD is just too valuable to take chances with anymore, as directors, talent and studio executives are all getting involved in the act of producing DVDs.

Indeed, renowned DVD documentarian Charles de Lauzirika (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down – Special Edition, The Alien Quadrilogy) pines a bit for the old days, when DVD “was a more underground product, like laserdisc, and you could really do anything you wanted with it.”

One of the issues brought up at the panel was the perception by some consumers that studios are “double dipping” by coming out earlier with basic DVD editions and then offering the special editions later on. The well-worn response that these editions just take more time might be more acceptable these days as windows continue to grow smaller, but does point to the possibility that there may be some fan fatigue with this approach. Certainly studios wouldn't do it if there weren't reasonable enough consumer demand that made these editions financially viable, but one wonders if this approach — which seems to be applied to almost every fairly high-profile release, warranted or not — will start to fall out of favor with consumers. As always, they will vote with their dollars.

All in all, despite the job being tougher, the panelists at Comic-Con agreed … they have one of the best jobs in the world right now, producing what is essentially a new art form in DVD.

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