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Kevin Krock, editor
MousePlanet at Studio Day 2000

Dave's Video sign outside
Dave's Video sign outside

Hosted in Studio City, California on November 11th at Dave's Video - The Laser Place, Studio Day is a wonderful opportunity for home theater enthusiasts from all around to gather and talk with each other and several industry representatives about every aspect of home theater: DVDs, Laser Discs, receivers, speakers, players, etc.

This sign welcomed us inside
This sign welcomed us inside

Now in its 15th year, this event has grown quite a bit over the years - both in attendees and representatives. This year, representatives from Buena Vista, Warner Brothers, Image Entertainment, MGM, Pioneer, THX, Columbia, Paramount, New Line, Trimark, Dreamworks and others were in attendance throughout the day. There was also a pretty good turnout of enthusiasts ranging from web DVD gurus (from The Digital Bits, The DVD File and the Home Theater Forum) to first-timer folks, like myself.

The morning started off with my wife, Adrienne, and son, Matthew, piling into the car bright and early to make the trek across the Southland to Studio City. We met up with Al Lutz and our friend Jeff and made our way to Dave's Video. The event ran from 10 am to 1 pm, and we arrived at the store at about 10:45 am. By the time we arrived, the place was jammed! Adrienne had a tough time pushing Matthew's stroller through the store, and when she found an empty spot by the front door, she and Matthew stayed there until we finished up - they were very patient. 

Several of the studios brought drawing prizes, so about every 15 minutes throughout the event, drawings were held for t-shirts, DVDs, posters, and other stuff. One lucky person even picked up the Fantasia Anthology a few days before the official release - it wasn't any of us, though. However, in anticipation of the Fantasia DVD releases on November 14th, the folks from Buena Vista brought some Sorcerer Mickey give-aways for kids in attendance, so Matthew got a Mickey beanie, keychain, magnet and button!

Jeff, Al and I walked around together for a while, just checking the place out, but we quickly decided that the best option would be to make contacts on our own. The environment was very casual, but it made finding specific people/studios difficult. The studio reps were scattered throughout the store, and the only way that you could identify them was by looking at their name tags. On top of that, the big studios always had a number of people waiting to talk to them. Fortunately, I was able to briefly meet with a few studio representatives and get a little info on some of their current and future plans...

Bins full of DVDs, what more could you ask for!
Bins full of DVDs, what more could you ask for!

Buena Vista (Disney)

Disney seems to be a pretty hard nut to crack for future release information. They are traditionally very quiet about specific things to come, but I was able to talk to one of the two representatives for a little while about some of the future possibilities...

Some time ago, Disney released several of their classic animated titles on laser disc in an "Archive Collection" series which included all sorts of bonus material. Among the titles they released in this collection were "Pocahontas," "Alice in Wonderland," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," and "Snow White." The laser disc sets are very cool, and I've been hoping for a long time that they would appear on DVD. Instead, many of the Archive laser disc titles have appeared in the bare bones Gold DVD Collection, even though all this great stuff has already been assembled. So, I took the opportunity to ask the representative about the possibility of transferring the Archive Collection laser discs to DVD.

Well... according to one of the representatives, Disney will eventually transfer them, but it may be a while until we actually see the first one. When they decide to move ahead with releasing them, it sounded like we would probably see "Pocahontas" first, but everything is still in the early planning stages (according to them...). Things will change, I'm sure. For now, though, we'll have to continue waiting a little bit longer.

I also asked about the possibility of Disney putting together a collection of the old TV series shows, like "Disneyland" and "The Wonderful World of Color." The response wasn't quite as encouraging as the previous one, but at least they appear to be considering them. No decision to produce a collection or series has been made yet, and there was no estimated timeframe for a decision. However, TV series from other studios that have been transferred to DVD collections seem to be selling pretty well, so I hope Disney will follow suit. Keep your fingers crossed!

Image Entertainment (Image)

Many people may not be aware of Image, but they are one of the largest DVD production houses around. While they don't create new content or movies, they license material from various studios and transfer it to DVD. They release a wide range of titles in several genres, but one title in particular caught my eye a couple of weeks ago: "The 1964 Worlds Fair" - A significant event in the history of Disneyland, and, for me at least, a generally interesting historical event that happened at the dawn of the technology explosion.

In the News section today, I have some more detail on this title, but I wanted to see if I could get any additional information. I asked Image's VP of Marketing about this title and any info he had about it, and he said that the general "in-office" response has been very positive. I'm looking forward to checking this one out in January, and I hope to report on other family-oriented Image releases in the near future.

Warner Brothers (WB)

Are there any Looney Tunes fans out there? I thought so - I know I am! I had a brief talk with the Director of DVD Marketing at Warner Bros., and one of the big questions I had was, "When are the Looney Tunes going to be released on DVD?" 

Several years ago, most of the cartoons were released on Laser Discs from WB and MGM / Turner, but issues with licensing have prevented their release on DVD. I don't know all of the details to the varied licensing history of these cartoons, but, as I understand it, all of licensing rights were recently acquired by WB. With the rights centralized under one studio, WB is now in a position to develop and release a comprehensive collection of their classic animated shorts on DVD.

That being said, I've got some good news and bad news. The bad news is that we won't be seeing them released in the near future. WB is currently working on the collection, but the representative didn't have any potential release date. The good news is that WB wants to make the eventual DVD release as good as it can be, so they are planning on re-mastering the audio and video! They want to make the DVD release look and sound better than the old laser releases, but that work will take some time... So, we'll all have to sit tight for a while and be patient, but rest assured, they are on the way.

Special thanks to the folks at Dave's
Special thanks to the folks at Dave's

Overall, it was an interesting and successful trip, and I'm looking forward to the next Studio Day event. I'm glad that I had the chance to meet and talk to some of the representatives, and I'd like to thank Dave's Video for hosting the event and the reps for giving up a few hours of their Saturday to chat with everyone. It sounds like there are a lot of great DVDs to be released in the near future, but several titles I've been hoping for will have to wait for a while.

 
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