Saturday, August 27, 2005

What's Up...besides my blood pressure

Going to ramble a bit, kind of like your dentist as he's drilling new holes into your skull and scorching blood vessels in your mouth. Trying to break the ice a bit. As I tell my Mom there's a reason I never went to medical school - I would have flunked bedside manner.

(Get me into bed - that's another story entirely! With a twist ending no less!)

Just finished the third draft of THE SOUND. More of a polish for the director than anything else. Everyone says they like the direction that the script is going, but nobody has said that we've arrived. That sort of development limbo that seems to drag on forever, but is really a short time. Kind of like Chinese water torture. It's not the water that gets you, it's the fact that you can't move [ I have to credit MYTHBUSTERS with teaching me that one].

Haven't worked up the steam to work on any new posts so this is what you get: Disc/ontent spam. Well, after all, parts is parts. I am working on THE SKULL and it's going well.

I watched SIN CITY again last night and it helped cement the look for the show in my mind. Lots of shadows, tough talkin' dames and smooth talkin' gunsels - show with "guns and humpin' ."

Speaking of SIN CITY, I noticed that the DVD had nothing going for it in the way of extras. Thank goodness I had the SC preview disc from Best Buy. It really chapped my ass that Dimension would pull this crap of releasing something inferior, then following it up with the "Deluxe Edition". I understand that the first season of BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA has done a similar con job only this time the inferior disc set cost MORE than the better edition that will follow in a couple of months.

Please don't give me that crap about "some members of the audience want to see just the movie and not all the extras." If this is truly the case, then:

a) release the movie and ONLY the movie.
b) Let the packaging and more importantly the PRICE reflect that it's a disposable item.

A disc and amray (the plastic case it comes in) only costs about:

$0.45 for the disc (some get it for .35)

$0.05 for the casewrap (the paper insert)

$0.25 for the amray case

$0.15 for stickers (upc bar code, 2 security stickers for the spine and bottom)

$0.10 for the anti-theft mag button

$0.05 for the shrinkwrapping (and I'm being generous)

$1.05 total ***

So for a little over a buck you get a DVD5 which can easily fit a movie and a couple of trailers. Authoring costs for something like that would be around $1000.00 (because if this is what they are saying and it's a loss leader then do the authoring cheaply with no menus and hidden chapter stops. No languages) .

All this means that they could easily sell a barebones disc to wholesalers for $4.00 each and make a tidy profit. Wholesalers can sell this for $6.50 each to retailers and they can sell it to you for $9.95 each.

SIN CITY - the movie and one behind the scenes feature costs $ 19.99 on Amazon. (Before I get too out of hand it also has french language and spanish subtitles with Dolby 5.1).

Does this seem a bit ridiculous to anyone else?

And since I've made the connection before - aren't comic books too expensive as well? Shouldn't they pull out all the stops when it comes to the hardback collections? I'm tired of paying $2.99 or $3.99 for a comic. When I see stuff happening like this in two of my favorite media, and when I read how bad everything is in the industry (both comics and movies) then I have to wonder - am I the only one seeing this problem?

(Let's not forget the fact that these two industries are closely tied together these days as well)

*** Let's allow for error with the calculations and add $0.25 to the proceedings. So for $1.30 cost you're paying $19.99.


Steve Peterson said...

Actually I'm a little sympathetic to the comic publishers. I did a little game publishing and, if you've got small print runs, the production cost, especially for full color all the way through -- is really steep.

For indie comix I'd imagine they got similar distribution deals as I did -- about 40% of MSRP. When the production costs are close to 20% of MSRP there's not much room for error, better hope you don't over-print, and even if it all works out you're not pulling in good money. I take it that most of these companies are really hoping for a movie deal to make any actual profit.

What does bother me about modern comics is that it seems they don't have much story per issue. Maybe I'm just "good ol' daying" but the comics in the 80's and earlier felt like you got more plot per issue. That said, I love being able to buy the trade paperback collections nowadays -- they're just right.

Bill Cunningham said...

I kind of felt the same way when I reread my post this morning. Maybe I too am "Good old daying" it.
However, there has to be a way to get more comics into the hands of readers and more DVDs into the hands of consumers. THOSE are pricing, format and distribution issues - things that the studios and publishers seem reluctant to address even though it's continually diminishing their audience and thus revenue.

The thing with DVD is that they are trying to whet the audiences' appetite for the movie that will EVENTUALLY come out in a more complete format. BUT they are not pricing it as such - they are pricing it as a high end product.

With comics, it's a similar situation: Too high a price for the initial format which diminishes readership overall. I wish they would take a lesson from Japan and publish accordingly - B&W manga monthly, trade digest in B&W with better paper, then Color Trade size for the true collector/completist.

Rock said...

On the boat with you on Sin City. I wanted to pick it up, but saw the LACK of anything special on it. And lets face it, seeing that you KNOW theres gonna be a special disk. So, I put it back down and instead rented it for the night. I'll wait for the special, cause a movie like that just has to have a special.

Anonymous said...

don't forget the $1.29 for all the Best Buy circular ads and the $4.99 for Rodriguez's overages and limo rides

Bill Cunningham said...

I've got to call you on this Moviequill, unless you know something that I don't: Rodriguez has been scrupulous in his methods to reduce the costs of moviemaking, which is part of the reason why digital filmmaking is taking off. He makes films for a budget and benefits through profits, not a huge (by Hollywood standards) upfront salary.

Aric Blue said...

With ya on comics--especially been having a problem with IDW's prices. They charge $3.99 an issue, and sometimes have individual specials that are 48 pages for $7.49(like the Spike one-shot that just came out)

And with dvds now--I check the internet to see if any better editions are coming out--I've had enough of buying dvds twice.

John Donald Carlucci said...

Everything I've read says Rodriguez puts the money on the screen.

I'm also pissed that most comic stories are designed to be collected in graphic novel format (6 issues). This inflates a bad story and shorteds a good story (sometimes).

I stopped buying for half a year now because there aren't any good shops here, but I have been hesitant since DC seems to be heading to a universe wipe anyway.


Steve Peterson said...

Oh yah, I agree regarding the DVDs -- though the early release is usually accetpable for me since the only special feature I like is commentary, and I've seen some premium releases that don't even include that.

Still, it's particularly annoying because it's the real fans that want the special edition and it's like the studio is saying "we can rake the people who really like us twice by releasing this way". That just strikes me as a bit slimy.

I've been looking at the Manga and that does strike me as a good alternative -- though I'm not a fan of the art style and kinds of stories in most manga. I could probably deal with the B&W art, like the old Alien vs. Predator comics.

Paul said...

Your comments on DVD costs are interesting, but ultimately flawed - there are various costs above and beyond just manufacturing and packaging costs. And I would argue with the idea that you can professionally author a disc for $1000 is a little bit off also.

Rodriguez has publically stated there would be a Special Edition coming and as someone who has worked with him on a DVD, know that he does EVERYTHING now, just like he does with his films. Because of this and his busy schedule (not to mention the Harvey & Bob/Disney divorce) you just have to be patient, I guess.
These days, the various studios' marketing departments call the shots anyway. The discs come out when they say they come out. It's a problem all of us who create the Added Value Materials deal with everyday. We had a title out last with only a commentary on it - although we had a full Special Edition ready to go. The studio decided to double-dip and that was that.

Bill Cunningham said...

"Your comments on DVD costs are interesting, but ultimately flawed - there are various costs above and beyond just manufacturing and packaging costs."

Which is why I said they could sell barebones discs for $4.00 each - to cover marketing costs and overhead. I was the Director of Marketing for a DVD company for two years. I know the associated costs because I've incurred them - printing, shipping, advertising, publicity, etc...

Doesn't Dimension also replicate their discs in Mexico now?

"And I would argue with the idea that you can professionally author a disc for $1000 is a little bit off also."

There's no 'argument' - it's been DONE. The company I negotiated with used Sonic Scenarist Pro. It wasn't some rinky-dink guy in a house on a Mac computer either, but a multi-million dollar facility that's done work for MGM, Anchor Bay, Ventura, Steven J. Cannell, Panzer-Davis, Ardustry, Screen Media Films, DEJ, etc...

"Rodriguez has publically stated there would be a Special Edition coming and as someone who has worked with him on a DVD, know that he does EVERYTHING now, just like he does with his films. Because of this and his busy just have to be patient, I guess."

I'm patient - I just get upset when they price a near barebones disc at $19.99 on Amazon and truly (even when you add in marketing costs) it should sell for $9.99. Also most of the extra Behind-the Scenes features came out on the Best Buy disc along with a bunch of coupons for Dimension releases BEFORE the movie came out! Don't blame Rodriguez - the work is already done!

"These days, the various studios' marketing departments call the shots anyway. The discs come out when they say they come out... The studio decided to double-dip and that was that."

Actually, in most studios administrative structure, the Home Entertainment Marketing Department reports to the Head of Home Entertainment. It was that VP's decision to double dip...but that's splitting hairs. I have no problem with double-dipping (as you put it) in order to get a disc out there - I argue with the philosophy that it costs them so much that they have to charge $19.99 for the disc. In this specific instance, Dimension is releasing this disc to keep the property in the public's mind while Rodriguez works on the extras and preps for SIN CITY 2. They are using the inferior disc as promotion. It should be priced accordingly...

Violet Strange said...

You also have to remember the markup along the way to retail. 50% is the usual rule. So the disc you are buying at Best Buy cost Best Buy $9.98 wholesale. And probably cost the wholesaler $4-5. Although video may be lower margin these days.

As to the special editions, selling a regular and then a special edition has been around since the laserdisc days. I really don't mind it, as long as the forthcoming edition is announced before the vanilla version goes on sale. They did a good job of that on the Lord of the Rings sets.

Bill Cunningham said...

I addressed the wholesaler and retailer markup in the original post...

CD said...

Bill --

so you're suggesting that film companies actually lower the price on DVD's (on bare bones editions)?

I think most consumers are savvy enough now to recognize that a special edition will be on the way. And, dang, the movie is still the movie. You pay $9 or $10 to see it in the theaters; so $19.99 doesn't seem that steep to me for a new release.

Plus, isn't this first release really about rentals? (I checked the IMDB rental chart and it showed Sin City as the number one title.) Like isn't the hope that most people will rent a new title first? I don't know what the profit breakdown between sales and rental is? But I would assume that it tilts towards rental a bit.

And there's probably another reason they price even a barebones DVD at $19.99. They probably haven't even made their money back yet. I know marketing and advertising account for at least 50% of a movies budget and sometimes more.

I did a little checking around at Box Office Mojo and Sin City's budget was $40 million; total worldwide gross is $136 million. So you'd assume even with Hollywood "accounting" someone's making a profit at this point.

However, here's my theory for why they don't charge less for the bare-bones edition: Sin City's profits are subsidizing some other Dimension film: which tallied a whopping $22 million.

That's my theory, anyway.


Steve Peterson said...

I haven't really checked my box -- do they ever include coupons for the special edition in them? Because that would be a reasonable way to handle this.

Bill Cunningham said...

CD - I'm asking the studios to lower the price and sell more DVDs.

Rental income has dwindled to near nothing. DVD has quickly turned into a sales item more than a rental item.

JD said...

I give Rodriguez a pass since he publicy warned folks about the double dip. Kevin Smith usually is good about that too.

I encourage more poeple to buy DVDs used off eBay, or similar sites. I have had nothing but good results buying this way. Of course, you run the risk of bootlegs, but do your research-there are a lot of cinema-philes who treat their DVDs as good as you or I do. And you end up getting them for $5-$10 cheaper.