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1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

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1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

Old 07-12-20, 03:55 PM
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1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

Several pre-coronavirus months ago, I became nostalgic for my DVD collecting years, which led me to thinking back on my first DVD player (an RCA RC5220P), which in turn led me to remember that promotion where you got five free DVDs for purchasing the player. I never got those five DVDs, though I honestly can't remember if I didn't get the form with my player or I just passed on it because I had little enthusiasm for the movies. So I scoped out the clearance used DVDs until I cobbled together those five and sat down to watch them, specifically thinking in terms of the impressions they would have made on me if I had bought them at the dawn of my DVD watching/collecting. I went through them in alphabetical order, watching every single bonus feature and reading most of the text-only ones. Here are my takeaways, from the perspective of how I think I'd have responded in 1999.

Lethal Weapon 4
This was my first viewing of any Lethal Weapon movie. I figured it wouldn't be hard to follow despite coming in so late, and I was right. Pretty straightforward story, but the stunt work was some of the finest I've seen. That fight inside the pre-fab home on the truck on the highway was incredible. The bonus materials are solid: Commentary track with Richard Donner; admittedly generic behind-the-scenes featurette; cast and crew interviews. There is also a collection of deleted scenes... from the first three Lethal Weapons. I watched them. I felt I understood them even without knowing the original context, but that's a weird feature even by now. I think I'd have been impressed overall, though. Movie enjoyment: 3/5, DVD: 4/5

Lost in Space
Funnily enough, this was my first viewing of any Lost in Space anything, minus some segments of re-runs here and there I'd catch randomly while channel surfing. Without any vested interest in the show, I found it a perfectly adequate movie. Some of the visual effects have aged really well and look terrific. The DVD itself is amazing, even by 2020 standards. Bonus features galore, including: Two commentary tracks (one with the director and writer, the other with the VFX supervisors, DP, editor, and producer); featurette about the special effects that goes into stuff covered in the second commentary track; one on space travel that was of interest more as a time capsule artifact; gallery of production designs; a psychedelic music video; and text bios for cast & crew principals. The commentaries are much more about how the specific things were created or why they were filmed or edited a certain way, and had very little of the generic "Oh, look, it's John Doe. What a great actor to work with" stuff. There's also a set of interviews with the surviving cast members of the original show and text synopses for every episode. Every. Episode. I did not read these. Plus, there were DVD-ROM features: Five games, and an option to watch the movie while reading the screenplay! That last one is one of the coolest features I know of, and it's a shame I couldn't see it because the DVD-ROM requires InterActual. I was able to retrieve the screenplay .txt files off the disc, though. This would have set a very high bar for me in 1999, and to be honest, it's still a high bar. Movie enjoyment: 3/5, DVD: 5/5

Six Days, Seven Nights
I maintain that this is a delightful romantic adventure flick that was unfairly punished by critics too hung up on Anne Heche's sexuality. I loved it in 1998, I've loved it in subsequent viewings, and I loved it this time. The DVD, however, is objectively objectionable. The lone features are its trailer and a set of others, but far worse: It's non-anamorphic. I would have been watching on a 4:3 TV at the time so I would not have understood that problem at the time, though. Surprisingly, this is still the only disc release it has ever had. Movie enjoyment: 4/5, DVD: 1/5

Stargate
I saw this when it opened in theaters and not once since then. I remember finding it kind of hollow and incomplete feeling, and I felt that way this time, too. I keep thinking there'll be something more, and there isn't. I like David Arnold's score, though. The DVD, though, is the only reason Six Day, Seven Nights doesn't have a 0/5 rating. It's non-anamorphic, and it's split into two sides of a flipper disc! Why, Artisan? Why?! There are some production notes and trailers, but I hate text-only features and nothing can redeem making me have to turn over the disc to finish watching a mediocre movie. Hell, I could have watched it all the way through on VHS! Movie enjoyment: 2/5, DVD: 0/5

Stepmom
I saw this on a cable channel while visiting family in 1999 and ended up liking it quite a lot. It got to me this time, too, which is rare for a melodrama. It might be my favorite Julia Roberts performance that I've seen, though that isn't a large pool and was even smaller when I would have watched this DVD back then. The wildest thing is that Columbia spent $50 million in 1998 to make this, released it at Christmas, and it was #2 at the box office when it opened. Not only does it feature Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Harris; the score is by John Williams! I can't fathom any of that happening today. The DVD offers both full screen and anamorphic widescreen viewing options, some trailers, a generic promo piece that's little more than an expansion of its trailer, and text-only production notes and cast/crew bios. Movie enjoyment: 4/5, DVD: 3/5

I wish in hindsight that I had gotten this set. It would have given me a clear sense of the scope of the DVD viewing format, dazzled by Lost in Space and eager to see what kind of deluxe, feature-laden treatment movies I actually cared about could get, and also apprehensive and afraid they might be torn asunder as was Stargate. That's some "hope for the best, anticipate the worst" context.

Last edited by Travis McClain; 07-13-20 at 06:53 AM. Reason: Corrected that Stargate was non-anamorphic
Old 07-12-20, 08:27 PM
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Re: 1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

I got screwed as an early adopter in September 1998. Didn't get jack shit for free, except a voucher for a free DVD rental from Netflix when they were still charging per title rented and I wasn't too excited about anything I had to give back. I have all of these in one format or another except Lost in Space; I have the DTS laserdisc of Six Days Seven Nights (DTS being the only reason I picked it up) and the first deluxe edition of Stargate which was 16x9 and had two versions of the movie, neither of which I've gotten around to watching yet. I got Stepmom only because that was one of several titles Sony wisely chose to reissue with only the pan and scan version, so I grabbed the proper version while I could. Super-depressing movie, basically Susan Sarandon telling Julia Roberts it's OK to fuck her husband because she's dying anyways. I projected the first show of that on 35mm Christmas day, and the film had some sort of problem on the platter when my back was turned so I had to cut and splice part of it.
Old 07-12-20, 09:19 PM
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Re: 1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
I got screwed as an early adopter in September 1998. Didn't get jack shit for free, except a voucher for a free DVD rental from Netflix when they were still charging per title rented and I wasn't too excited about anything I had to give back. I have all of these in one format or another except Lost in Space; I have the DTS laserdisc of Six Days Seven Nights (DTS being the only reason I picked it up) and the first deluxe edition of Stargate which was 16x9 and had two versions of the movie, neither of which I've gotten around to watching yet. I got Stepmom only because that was one of several titles Sony wisely chose to reissue with only the pan and scan version, so I grabbed the proper version while I could. Super-depressing movie, basically Susan Sarandon telling Julia Roberts it's OK to fuck her husband because she's dying anyways. I projected the first show of that on 35mm Christmas day, and the film had some sort of problem on the platter when my back was turned so I had to cut and splice part of it.
I'm always hesitant to get in on things too early. "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese" and all that. I forgot to mention the "title wave" promo included Blockbuster rentals and/or Netflix trials, depending on the manufacturer of the player. I also forgot to include the eligibility period (22 August 1999 - 2 January 2000). There were other such promotions around that time, too, but I dunno what the details of those were.

Also, I think it's important to note that Ed Harris is Susan Sarandon's ex-husband. And that projectionists are the unsung heroes of the movie world. *applauds*
Old 07-13-20, 01:16 AM
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Re: 1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

I got this set when first going digital back in the day, and still have most of them.

Lethal Weapon 4 - Nixed this disc from my collection after getting the Lethal Weapon set on BR during a black friday somewhere. True it had many good parts but as a whole it is just disappointing compared to the other films in the series. I saw it in the theater as well and always remember thinking that the end was just so bland.

Lost In Space - Completely agree, I have probably watched this one 7-9 times over the years, a super enjoyable disc, I need to upgrade it. It should be noted that if you missed them I believe this disc has easter eggs.

Six Days, Seven Nights - I will have to give this one another go, I remember it being passable but yeah haven't watched it in over 20 years now.

Star Gate - Having always liked this movie, hit me at just that right age to make a lasting impression. I don't remember having to flip this one though? Feels like the one I had was picture boxed?

Stepmom - It still sits unwatched all these years later in my collection, one of the very very few movies in the movie room that I have never actually seen.
Old 07-13-20, 07:24 AM
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Re: 1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

Originally Posted by SterlingBen View Post
I got this set when first going digital back in the day, and still have most of them.

Lethal Weapon 4 - Nixed this disc from my collection after getting the Lethal Weapon set on BR during a black friday somewhere. True it had many good parts but as a whole it is just disappointing compared to the other films in the series. I saw it in the theater as well and always remember thinking that the end was just so bland.

Lost In Space - Completely agree, I have probably watched this one 7-9 times over the years, a super enjoyable disc, I need to upgrade it. It should be noted that if you missed them I believe this disc has easter eggs.

Six Days, Seven Nights - I will have to give this one another go, I remember it being passable but yeah haven't watched it in over 20 years now.

Star Gate - Having always liked this movie, hit me at just that right age to make a lasting impression. I don't remember having to flip this one though? Feels like the one I had was picture boxed?

Stepmom - It still sits unwatched all these years later in my collection, one of the very very few movies in the movie room that I have never actually seen.
Had to check on Stargate and I was mistaken. That was also non-anamorphic on top of being split in two on a flipper. Apparently, I was consumed with so much hatred for it being broken in two that I forgot it was also letterboxed 4:3. Artisan didn't do right by that movie for quite awhile. The first release version that I have was released 6/18/97. Then came a Special Edition on 10/22/99 that is likely the one you have. It was a single disc release but included the theatrical cut as well as a director's cut with commentary. It too was non-anamorphic.

Man, Artisan really took the cake. Not only did they give Stargate such a shoddy first release, that's the disc they contributed to this starter kit to help get the DVD format off the ground. And during that very promotion, they released a better edition! I can understand not wanting to give everyone the new version for free, but they didn't have any other DVD at all they could have included instead of a disc with a horrible presentation they were already upgrading? I'd have already been made wary about how vastly the experiences with DVD could vary, but had I received the "title wave" at the time and also known about that Special Edition release, I'd have also been made cynical about how studios could conduct themselves. I'm getting angry now just thinking about it!
Old 09-04-20, 07:51 PM
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Re: 1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

I remember taking advantage of an offer like that but it was for a different set of movies. I'm pretty sure Sphere (1998) was one. (Have absolutely no memory of it or what it was even about. If I dusted it off and popped it in, it would be like watching it again for the first time.) I also want to say City of Angels (1998) was another. I have Lethal Weapon 4 and Lost in Space, but I don't really remember getting them for free. I definitely remember those games that came with the Lost in Space disc. They were literally the first PC games I ever installed and played. And there was that one where the robot was puttering along on your desktop. (I wonder how many people would consider that an incredible annoyance now?)
Old 09-06-20, 01:10 PM
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Re: 1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

I didn’t get any of those titles, the only one I can remember is Jumanji in a cd jewel case and it might have been non-anamorphic.

I did get Lost In Space at some point and I’ve always enjoyed the movie and was never a fan of the show.

I think I sold the DVD and have been meaning to rebuy on Blu.
Old 09-06-20, 02:51 PM
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Re: 1999 "Title Wave" Promotion

Originally Posted by rennervision View Post
I remember taking advantage of an offer like that but it was for a different set of movies. I'm pretty sure Sphere (1998) was one. (Have absolutely no memory of it or what it was even about. If I dusted it off and popped it in, it would be like watching it again for the first time.) I also want to say City of Angels (1998) was another. I have Lethal Weapon 4 and Lost in Space, but I don't really remember getting them for free. I definitely remember those games that came with the Lost in Space disc. They were literally the first PC games I ever installed and played. And there was that one where the robot was puttering along on your desktop. (I wonder how many people would consider that an incredible annoyance now?)
When I got my first DVD player (a Toshiba SD2008) back in late '98/early '99, the five free DVDs were:

Lost in Space
City of Angels
A Perfect Murder
Sphere
US Marshals


Nothing I cared about owning, so I ended up selling all of them on eBay for a little over $100 and paid for a good-sized chunk of my player that way. The early days of DVD and eBay were crazy back then. You could sell DVDs on eBay for more than they cost in Best Buy or Circuit City.


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