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Roger Ebert: "Blockbuster's policies OK"

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Roger Ebert: "Blockbuster's policies OK"

Old 01-30-03, 08:02 AM
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Roger Ebert: "Blockbuster's policies OK"

Oh boy, here we go again. All emphases mine.

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Q. More about Blockbuster's refusal to stock widescreen formats: Earlier this week, I considered renting 'Unfaithful' at a Blockbuster and decided against it because, out of the 40 DVDs available, all copies were full-screen. When I complained to the high-school kid checking me out, he actually said that Blockbuster had no control over that because "they buy what the director wants the audience to see." I looked at him dumbfounded. Later, after I was able to rent the widescreen version from a local video store, I realized that I should have said, "If the director wants the audience to see a movie that is the shape of my TV screen, why on earth would he make it in the widescreen aspect ratio ?"

Katie Dahlquist, Austin, Texas


A. Blockbuster's policy is OK for people with small-screen TVs, but as screens grow larger and home theater systems more popular, it is lingering in the dark ages.

[Source]
ARGH! Ebert, the woman didn't even mention she had a big screen TV. This was a discussion of OAR = correct and you turned it into "Blockbuster should stock the apsect ratio of your TV"
Old 01-30-03, 08:25 AM
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Option #2. He was probably hungry and didn't want to write yet another soliloquy defacing Blockbuster and Pan & Scan.
Old 01-30-03, 08:57 AM
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Originally posted by LBPound
Option #2. He was probably hungry and didn't want to write yet another soliloquy defacing Blockbuster and Pan & Scan.


Ebert simply gave the wrong answer here (as did the high school employee). There is no way on God's green Earth that Adrian Lyne told Blockbuster to carry only the 4:3 version of Unfaithful. FWIW, I was put in the exact same situation and chose not to rent Unfaithful from BB for the same reason.
Old 01-30-03, 09:10 AM
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Re: Roger Ebert: "Blockbuster's policies OK"

Originally posted by Ebert
A. Blockbuster's policy is...lingering in the dark ages.
Here's what he meant to say. The rest was inserted by Blockbuster's team of haXx0rz.
Old 01-30-03, 09:26 AM
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Well, that clerk is one smart kid! He not only explained why BB won't carry WS versions of certain movies (although this is inconsistent so they must get the wrong information from the director from time to time), but also told us about other BB policies as well. I guess when a director makes a movie that is unrated or NC-17, he must not want us to see the unrated version, or in some cases, he doesn't want us to see the movie at all!
Old 01-30-03, 09:56 AM
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It sounds like Ebert was forced to watch some 'Scope films on a 13" television. He is getting old. I'm sure those glazzies of his aren't exactly up to snuff.
Old 01-30-03, 10:04 AM
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I think Ebert is trying to stake out a middle-ground position on OAR, one that will convince people that widescreen is better, but that won't make them feel defensive because they are uncomfortable with the "black bars". It's easy for us here in these forums to be OAR zealots (and I'm certainly a zealot about these things myself), but Ebert probably sees his position as one where he can gently convince people to move towards the light, rather than berate them for being seduced by the dark side.

Ebert seems to take a lot of abuse around here, for his opinions (sometimes justifiably so) and his weight (which is NEVER OK, sorry), but I don't think you'll find any film critic anywhere with greater love or enthusiasm for film's rich history. Disagree with him as much as you want, but it's clear to me that Ebert is one of us.
Old 01-30-03, 12:52 PM
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Most people want full screen. Of course blockbuster is going to buy fullscreen instead of widescreen. They make more money that way. When there is more demand for widescreen, then they will migrate. Bockbuster doesn't dictate DVD market trends, they follow the path to more money.


People shouldn't get so stressed or upset about full screen versions. Not everyone has a big TV. If it really matters that much to you, then buy the widescreen version.

Last edited by mmconhea; 01-30-03 at 01:02 PM.
Old 01-30-03, 01:02 PM
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Ebert has said plenty good stuff in the past concerning OAR and Blockbuster's stupidity. There was really no need for him to go into it once again.
That's not to say I'm a little disappointed in his answer.
Old 01-30-03, 01:07 PM
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Originally posted by greatjedi
Ebert has said plenty good stuff in the past concerning OAR and Blockbuster's stupidity. There was really no need for him to go into it once again.

Yup very rarely does Ebert screw up his answers. He's the critic I respect the most, but yes he just wanted to get rid of this question, or else he would've wrote a 10 paragraph answer.
Old 01-30-03, 01:09 PM
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Have you ever watched a widescreen movie on a 13" or 19" TV? Honestly, if I know that I have to watch a movie on that small of a TV, I wouldn't be against Fullscreen, though I would want a choice.

So his answer makes perfect sense to me.
Old 01-30-03, 02:26 PM
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It is tough watching WS on a 19". It hurts my eyes. But Ws is the best.
Old 01-30-03, 04:07 PM
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How many people have a 13" TV?
Old 01-30-03, 04:33 PM
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Originally posted by Heat
Have you ever watched a widescreen movie on a 19" TV?
Every single day.
Old 01-30-03, 04:41 PM
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Originally posted by Joe Molotov
Every single day.
Ditto. Only it's 20". I never watch non-OAR if there is a choice. And seldom do if there isn't a choice.

Just went through the EPG last night, set up over a dozen movies to record on Tivo. Vast majority on FMC, IFC, TCM in OAR. I just can't watch an action flick on satellite unless it is OAR, I'll wait til I get around to renting or whatever.
Old 01-30-03, 06:21 PM
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Do what I do,dont go to blockbuster,the reason its still in buisness is because of fools that go there,go to your local mom and pop store to rent,or try netflix.
Old 01-30-03, 08:51 PM
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Most people want full screen. Of course blockbuster is going to buy fullscreen instead of widescreen. They make more money that way. When there is more demand for widescreen, then they will migrate. Bockbuster doesn't dictate DVD market trends, they follow the path to more money.


People shouldn't get so stressed or upset about full screen versions. Not everyone has a big TV. If it really matters that much to you, then buy the widescreen version.
No, Blockbuster would make more money taking a middle ground approach and stocking at least some widescreen copies. Covering the whole market is better than covering only part of it.

Now it's probably too late, but had they done that to begin with they would be better off. There are reasons why BB is hurting, this is probably one of them... i mean who in there right mind decides they won't even bother trying to cover the whole market? Even if only 10% care enough to avoid p&s even if it means not renting, that would mean they would have 10% more customers. I assume they figured they had enough muscle to dictate people's taste instead of catering to it. Seems like they were wrong.

As far as the small tv thing, i've watched widescreen dvds on a 17 inch monitor. Still better than pan and scan.
Old 01-30-03, 10:10 PM
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Good point Blockbuster should stock widescreen and fullscreen versions of each dvds cater to everyone. I think they should carry widescreen only though. I didn't realize so many people didn't like widescreen til I talked about it to some of my friends. I am going to show them the WS vs. FS pictures at digital bits. Most people I know do not like WS because of the whole tiny picture. They should start making 19" WS tvs so the anamorphic Ws will cover the screen and end this stupid problem and debate. More and more tv is going widescreen. Many many commericals are now being shot in widescreen. Ws will rule the world of entertainment someday.

Last edited by lwhy?; 01-30-03 at 10:15 PM.
Old 01-31-03, 01:18 AM
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I went to rent Unfaithful from my local Blockbuster last Friday. I was almost there when I realized that it came in seperate aspect ratio releases, but decided to see what I found.

Believe it or not, they had the widescreen version available for rent! Not sure if they only stocked one or the other, but I was happy.

Hope your BBs (if you use them) start doing this too.

And while I think his answer was technically wrong, practically speaking people are going to be much more understanding of OAR as their TVs get bigger. I don't like it any more than anyone else does, but it's just a fact of life.
Old 01-31-03, 07:34 PM
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I've killed my eyes watching my widescreen dvds on a 13" computer monitor but I still see more picture than every poor dope who rents the Pan & Scam.
Old 02-01-03, 12:56 AM
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Originally posted by Heat
Have you ever watched a widescreen movie on a 13" or 19" TV? Honestly, if I know that I have to watch a movie on that small of a TV, I wouldn't be against Fullscreen, though I would want a choice.

So his answer makes perfect sense to me.
I watch my movies on a 17" PC monitor and I still prefer OAR. Out of the 103 DVDs in my collection the only full screen movies I own are the ones that came with both OAR and pan and scam.
Old 02-01-03, 01:11 PM
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Originally posted by $tarr
Out of the 103 DVDs in my collection the only full screen movies I own are the ones that came with both OAR and pan and scam.
Not a big fan of older movies?
Old 02-01-03, 07:56 PM
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Originally posted by LBPound
Not a big fan of older movies?
He must not be a big fan of Kubrick's films either.

Anyway, what I want to know is, if Ebert didn't feel like going into another OAR discussion then, why did he choose this particular question to print and answer in his column? Surely he doesn't print every single question that gets sent to him. Did he just want his readers to get a kick out of the stupid comment about the clerk thinking they got fullscreen because that's what the director wants?
Old 02-01-03, 07:59 PM
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So are all of you just selectively reading Ebert's answer or what? The end of the sentence does say, Blockbuster's policy "is lingering in the dark ages." Hard to get any more critical than that. Ebert clearly understands what people on this forum don't: not everyone in America has the money to buy a huge honkin' home theater system with surround sound. That will change over time, it already is, but for now we're clearly in between two different ways of watching movies. This is still the early age of DVDs yet. Look at the long view.
Old 02-18-03, 07:29 PM
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If Blockbuster will only carry full screen movies, don't you think they will have a tougher time selling them as pre-viewed DVDs afterwards? I tend to believe the majority of serious DVD purchasers only prefer widescreen while your average Joe may buy an occasional Spiderman or Ice Age fullscreen Dvd.

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