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Things the Studios Did Right This Year

11 Nov, 2004 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Sometimes the studios do things that make you scratch your head and wonder why. Support for Digital VHS in the early days of DVD was one. Warner's late-but-certainly-not-lamented “Snapper” was another.

On the other hand, sometimes studios do things that make perfect sense, that make you wonder why did they didn't do them sooner. Here, as we enter the final stretch of the holiday shopping season, are five things I believe studios have done right over the past year:

1. Packaging movie tickets to a film's sequel with the DVD of the original. Warner and Universal are great at this, and it's truly a win-win: There's some real added value to the DVD and a strong likelihood of additional ticket sales because most people don't go to the movies by themselves.

2. Putting extras on TV DVD releases. I loved the Gilligan's Island DVD set released earlier this year by Warner and enjoyed meeting three of the cast members, including Bob Denver. Sadly, none of them was featured on the disc. Slowly but surely, studios are moving away from this, to the point where some of the most compelling extras can now be found on “complete season” TV packages. Just look at what the folks at Fox are doing with such sets as 24 and The Simpsons.

3. Moving to “instant access” on children's titles. My kids aren't stupid, and yet I began seriously questioning my gene pool when I saw them gathered around a Barney DVD a couple of years ago, just watching the animated menu, over and over again. More and more studios are now issuing DVDs in which the movie starts automatically after a certain period of time. Heck, I'd like to see this migrate to mainstream movies as well. I had a devil of a time with Van Helsing…

4. Releasing not just “complete season” sets, but entire series, one installment after the other. I'm referring specifically to Image's “Dick Van Dyke Show” release. All five sets came out within a year, perfect for collectors who don't want to wait a year between seasons. Many of us are completists — we want it all, and we want it now.

5. Separate bonus discs. I love having the movie on one disc and the bonus materials on the other. Invariably the movie looks better when it lives on a disc all by itself. You can also watch a movie with the family and then let the kids watch it over and over again on their TVs, in their rooms, as they like to do, while you get to explore the extras all by yourself, in peace and quiet.

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