Monday, August 22, 2005

Disney's Press Release States No Widescreen!

Disney has announced the details of November's much-anticipated Muppet movie DVD reissues and if their press release is accurate, they decided to cut 30%-50% of the film out of the DVD versions. That's right, the "fully remastered and restored" 50th Anniversary Editions will contain only full-screen (1.33:1) transfers of "The Muppet Movie", "The Great Muppet Caper", "The Muppet Christmas Carol", and "Muppet Treasure Island". So hopefully you like your film "formatted to fit your TV" (unless you have a widescreen television, because then these films will be formatted to not fit you TV).

The official press release, where this sad news came from, does appear incomplete and full of errors - so maybe this is all a bad mistake or misprint (however I doubt it). The audio commentaries listed to be carried over on "Christmas Carol" and "Treasure Island" are not listed in the press release. And neither are any of the four behind the scenes mini-documentaries originally stated on DisneyDirect last week. (Plus they list "Christmas Around the World" as a music video, even though this feature has Gonzo and Rizzo talking about Christmas traditions around the world - there's no singing). However they do make it clear that the aspect ratio on all four DVDs is a butchered 1.33:1 transfer.

Maybe this is a bad dream, maybe Disney wrote the wrong aspect ratio on the press release, maybe it's all an elaborate joke.... Don't they recall the fiasco in 2002 when Disney first released "Christmas Carol" and "Treasure Island" in pan-and-scan. Hundreds called and e-mailed Disney is disgust (including the upset director, Brian Henson), it seems Disney did not learn from their stupid mistake. So I encourage everyone to voice your displeasure by calling 1-800-723-4763 and/or writing Tell them how upset you are, and how you were planning on getting the DVDs until you heard this news. Tell Disney that you want - no, you demand - widescreen!


Tannerman said...

From what I've been reading, we have conflicting sources on this annoucement, so I'll withhold judgement until more details become evident.

Jake said...

The news of the movies being in fullscreen came directly from the OFFICIAL DISNEY PRESS ANNOUNCMENT:

It is official - and I am pissed off.

Meg said...

What is Disney's problem? Why? Are they stupid? They just lost another 4 DVD sales.

Chad Kerychuk said...

As a bonus features fan, I'm saddened that their is almost nothing of value on the DVD's either.

This is my letter to Buena Vista:

To whom it may concern,

When Disney was entrusted with the Muppets brand-name by the Henson children, I had belief that the characters were going to be shown in some of their best light yet. Recent releases are sending mixed messages though.

I am not only disappointed at Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s recent decision to ‘reformat’ the aspect ratio of the 50th Anniversary ‘Muppet’ movie DVDs, but am also deeply saddened at the lack of any real Bonus Features.

Understandably, with the release of ‘The Muppet Show’ on DVD, and special features material available on the series collections, there would be some missing for the feature films. However, with the 50-year legacy of Kermit and history of his other puppet friends, there is easily enough material out there for inclusion on the DVDs.

For instance, Buena Vista could have acquired the rights or made a distribution deal for the excellent 1994 PBS Great Performances special ‘The World of Jim Henson.’ Not only is this a comprehensive companion to the book, ‘Jim Henson: The Works’, but a touching, moving and informative documentary on the creative genius and his collaborators. Jim Henson was known to produce many behind-the-scenes specials and material for Muppet and film fans in general. These vast resources should have been tapped into.

Even the existing DVDs have some kind of behind-the-scenes production material, albeit very slim. I never buy ‘pan-and-scan’ reformatted films in any format

I own ‘The Muppet Movie’ on DVD and will seek out the existing Columbia/Tri-Star versions.

It appears the Internet Muppet communities are already disappointed with this decision and while it may not have much impact on the larger public, please keep in mind that a majority of Muppet fans, are people like myself, who grew up with their media on a daily and weekly basis. At the very least, please rectify the formatting issue and seriously consider the inclusion of new or existing behind-the-scenes material.

I think Jim’s legacy deserves better treatment.

Thank you.

DrummerDave said...

I just called the 800 number, and a gentleman named Francois informed me that both versions will be available on the same DVD. He didn't say whether there will be one version on each side or whether you could choose in a menu. He swears that this is information direct from Disney.

I hope it's true. I already have most of the original movies, but I do need to get Treasure Island...

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Darren said...

Just received a reply from disney's support:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding THE MUPPET MOVIE (50th Anniversary Edition) We appreciate your interest.

This title is in widescreen format. If there are other Muppet film you are interested in, please provide the titles and we will research your inquiry further.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to reply to this email. You may also contact us at (800) 723-4763, Mondays 9:30-7:30 and Tuesday through Friday 9:30-6:30 CST.


Walt Disney Home Entertainment Consumer Relations
US and Canada

So things don't look quite so dire!