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Kevin Krock, editor
The MousePlanet Home Theater E-Mail - 2/23/01

Dinosaur promotional art © Disney
Dinosaur promotional art © Disney

I received email last week about a variety of things, including several about the Dinosaur debacle. Here are a few that I think you might be interested in:


I think that the list of known DVD players with problems pretty much covers all but 2 or 3 DVD Player manufacturers. If Disney doesn't see this as a huge problem, then I think they should fire their marketing people. I took a marketing class or two in college and every case study we read pretty much said, if you screw up, inform the public, pull the product.

Information on this screw up has been very hard to come by.

Thank you for your report. I've been waiting for any word from Disney for the past week and a half.

Chris


Youíre quite welcome Chris, and I know that many others out there have similar feelings. While Disneyís marketing folks are performing damage control and their DVD gurus are trying to fix the problem, Iíve been trying to figure out what is causing the problem. So far, Iíve found a couple of good possibilities:


Just a BTW... there are OTHER issues with the Dino DVD... this is the new security system that relates to the region code.

D(isney) Store mgrs. WERE warned PRIOR to the release of the Dino and The Kid that there would be returns... also the folks over at Oritron have been inundated due to this... It locks up some players when the player has the ability to CHANGE regions.

This can be a hacked ability... or in the case of the Oritron and others, it is built in to the player, accessed through a hidden menu.

Even though your player IS SET to region 1... the security feature DETECTS this hidden ability and shuts down the player. (Locks it up). Not cool.

Thanks... Doug


What the writer above is referring to is a new security feature that only allows a region- encoded DVD to be played on a specific regionís DVD player. If you look at the back of many DVDs in the U.S. or Canada, youíll see a little icon with a world and the number "1." This indicates that the DVD is encoded for Region 1, and it only plays on DVD players that have been designated for Region 1. Other areas around the world, (like Europe and Japan), fall into other region codes, so their discs cannot be played on a standard U.S. DVD player.

Studios devised this coding method because their DVD- release schedules are different around the world. For example, a movie may still be in theaters in Europe while the DVD is being released in the US.

However, DVD hardware manufacturers have either produced "region-free" DVD players, or provided relatively easy ways to modify them so folks in the U.S. could play Japanese DVDs or Europeans could play U.S. DVDs.

This little loophole has caused a lot of headaches for the studios because, for example, people in Europe with region-free DVD players could buy import-DVD versions of the movie rather than go to the theater. This is not what the studios want, and this is where the new security feature comes in.

These new discs have software that essentially reads what kind of player the disc is being played on. If it detects either the wrong region code or the lack of a region code, the disc is supposed to put up a cute little warning that kindly tells you thereís a problem, and that you need to get the appropriate disc for your region. Apparently there are still a few bugs to be worked out with that scheme, but that may not be all...

Dinosaur promotional art © Disney
Dinosaur promotional art © Disney

Another theory has been put forward about the quantity of material that is packed onto these discs.


After my last message to you I was informed by the Disney Store to call 1-800-72-DISNEY. This is a special number to Buena Vista Home Video. When the phone is answered there is a recorded message that says:

"Welcome to Buena Vista Home Video. If you are calling regarding problems with the DVD release of Deluxe Dinosaur or the DVD release of Disney's The Kid, please press one now."

Of course I did and was connected after a 5-minute wait to a live customer service rep. He took my name, address and phone number, and then asked for the title of the DVD in question. I told him Dinosaur Deluxe DVD. He asked for a description of the problem and the make and model # of my DVD player.

After all the formal stuff was out of the way, I started making comets to him and he realized I was a Disney Fan and not just a normal customer of movies. We talked and he admitted that on both of the disks in question, the DVD programmers had tried to do too much, and that is the root of the problem.

There is just to much information squeezed into Disk 1, and a lot of DVD players just can't handle it. He said the DVD programmers and engineers were working around the clock to try to correct the problem and yes, this is a big embarrassment for the company.

He said that they hope to re-issue the disk in a "Playable" version in 4 to 6 weeks. If you keep calling the number I gave above, when the problem is fixed, the recorded message will be taken off, and when the live operator answers you can ask for the "playable" version's release date.

Here's hoping they can correct this problem.

Bruce


Thanks Doug and Bruce for the info. As with the earlier days of DVD (all of a couple of years ago), the format has had some growing pains, and itís been difficult to predict when some software feature is going to crash a player. This wasnít the first software / hardware compatibility problem, and it wonít be the last. Itís just unfortunate that this particular episode has played out this way. Hopefully everything will get cleared up shortly!

Finally, I received a quick email about Song of the South:


Do you know if Song of the South will ever be on video?

We have short clips on some sing-a-longs, but why has the video never been released??

My kids love the ride, Splash Mtn., and would love to see the movie.

Can you help me??

Michelle


Well Michelle, unfortunately, the answer I have is not the one you were hoping for. At VSDA, I asked one of the Disney marketing folks about Song of the South, and his answer was a pretty firm, "Never." I think itíll be a long time before weíll see a U.S. release on video or DVD, if ever. The content in the movie has been deemed by Disney to be too controversial, so itís easier for them to not release it than it is to deal with the potential social backlash.

Some time ago, I heard rumors about having James Earl Jones provide an introduction to the movie in an attempt to set the movieís historical context, but I havenít heard anything about it lately. Weíll just have to wait and see, but Iím not holding my breath... However, as a last resort, you can always use the internet to track down a used or import VHS copy, but it is pretty hit and miss out there.


That's it for now, but keep providing me feedback!

Dinosaur promotional artwork © Disney
Dinosaur promotional artwork © Disney

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