399 House of Games

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Lost Highway
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:41 am
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Re: 399 House of Games

#101 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:10 am

Thanks for that invaluable information!

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andyli
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:46 pm

Re: 399 House of Games

#102 Post by andyli » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:27 am

No need to get sarcastic. I'm merely pointing out the fact that no label is factoring the quality (or freshness) of a master into their SRP. New 4K resto could as well end up in a bargain bin as Criterion et al. charge a premium for old HD transfer. On average it all levels off for people buying stuff on a regular basis. I too wish labels were releasing movies solely from 4K restorations, but until the restoration cost/licensing fee drop to a manageable level it's simply not gonna happen.

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tenia
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Re: 399 House of Games

#103 Post by tenia » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:35 am

The issue has never been using older masters, but using outdated ones. It's all the more surprising with Criterion that they have tons of DVD releases that could be upgraded through brand new restorations (just like Fists in the Pocket that received a new 4K restoration) and yet, they regularly choose to upgrade instead titles who don't have anything else than outdated masters (and I'm not sure people were eagerly waiting for that House of Games upgrade, especially in these conditions).

Other labels doing so isn't an excuse (but rather a sophism), especially when some of them sometimes complain behind-the-scenes about how these masters should have simply been retired years ago. A probably-20+-years-old master like House of Games shouldn't be offered for BD release, and yet, the rightholder doesn't care, and the label chooses to go ahead anyway. It's not as if it was a "this or nothing" situation : the movie still is available on DVD for anyone who just wants to see it in good enough conditions. But what is the technical added value of a BD release with such a master, especially considering the premium usually asked for a BD release ?

I had a similar issue with Indicator earlier releases, who not only digged into Sony's older masters, but into vastly outdated ones. It currently seems to be less and less the case, which is good, but in an ideal world, buying releases based on older masters wouldn't be risking facing not just a not-brand-new master but a problematic one.
andyli wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:27 am
I too wish labels were releasing movies solely from 4K restorations, but until the restoration cost/licensing fee drop to a manageable level it's simply not gonna happen.
As written above, it's not an issue of only using new restorations, but avoiding using older masters that are not just old but also relatively poor. Within Criterion, that's the difference between, say, Woman in the Dunes and Sword of Doom.

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Lost Highway
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Re: 399 House of Games

#104 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:05 am

andyli wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:27 am
No need to get sarcastic. I'm merely pointing out the fact that no label is factoring the quality (or freshness) of a master into their SRP. New 4K resto could as well end up in a bargain bin as Criterion et al. charge a premium for old HD transfer. On average it all levels off for people buying stuff on a regular basis. I too wish labels were releasing movies solely from 4K restorations, but until the restoration cost/licensing fee drop to a manageable level it's simply not gonna happen.
I have bought crappy releases from Arrow (Dark Water, Pulse), but at least they were nearly half price of what Criterion charges when new and I picked them up at a sale at Fopp for £7. If one charges nearly $30, releasing a blu-ray that poor is a rip-off and I don’t know why they even bother. It’s the last time I put in a pre-order with Criterion. House of Games was one of my most anticipated titles on blu-ray, so the disappointment has made me extra cranky.

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andyli
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Re: 399 House of Games

#105 Post by andyli » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:12 am

Thanks for your detailed thought, tenia. This is an issue that intrigues me a lot, and I replied first in the hope of inducing a more in-depth discussion anyway.

I have absolutely no idea what goes on behind the scene in terms of choosing what to upgrade or not. A quick survey of this year's release calendar shows that Criterion have 7 upgrade titles with HD transfer (Berlin Alexanderplatz, Stranger Than Paradise, Night on Earth, House of Games, Veronika Voss, Magnificent Obsession, An Angel at My Table) and 6 titles in new 4K resto (Notorious, Blue Velvet, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lola, Do the Right Thing, Fists in the Pocket). It's about 1:1 ratio. So I guess if Criterion goes solely on 4K-ready upgrades they would have ended up with half the amount of upgrades. The reason they choose to do the former batch over other potential 4K-ready titles I can only guess. The contractual pressure to put something out sooner rather than later may play a role here. The BRD trilogy seems to serve as a crystal-clear case in which they'd choose not to wait for Veronika Voss.

If you factor in the newer restorations that may not look that good for the money, it becomes even more complicated. Swing Time comes to mind as a recent example. Warner might have chosen a 2K route because of the sorry state of the film elements, yet the new 2k transfer still fall short of expectations. So at the end of the day I stuck to the 'on average it's worth it' kind of mentality when buying them.

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andyli
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Re: 399 House of Games

#106 Post by andyli » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:21 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:05 am
I have bought crappy releases from Arrow (Dark Water, Pulse), but at least they were nearly half price of what Criterion charges when new and I picked them up at a sale at Fopp for £7. If one charges nearly $30, releasing a blu-ray that poor is a rip-off and I don’t know why they even bother. It’s the last time I put in a pre-order with Criterion. House of Games was one of my most anticipated titles on blu-ray, so the disappointment has made me extra cranky.
Actually I can feel your pain as I also adore House of Games and have secretly wished Criterion would give it a royal treatment. I guess it's harder to take when it's your precious movie that gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Maybe people from Arrow would come to the rescue and perform a 4K scan like they did with The Apartment & Alfredo Garcia?

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Lost Highway
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Re: 399 House of Games

#107 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:49 am

Let’s hope for the best, but I thought Criterion were the best bet for a decent release. Anyways, apologies for the sarcasm, we are on the same page. I shouldn’t post within an hour of getting up... :D

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tenia
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Re: 399 House of Games

#108 Post by tenia » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:08 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:05 am
House of Games was one of my most anticipated titles on blu-ray, so the disappointment has made me extra cranky.
I'd argue it was to be expected though. There has been no new restoration of the movie, the Criterion was stated to be sourced from a "high def transfer" (which is their usual blurb for "pre-existing master"), so there was no way the outcome would have been different. It remains disappointing, I'm not arguing that, but all the clues were there, and I'd certainly have ne trouble putting pre-orders for other Criterion releases since it's quite easy to know what to avoid.
andyli wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:12 am
So I guess if Criterion goes solely on 4K-ready upgrades they would have ended up with half the amount of upgrades. The reason they choose to do the former batch over other potential 4K-ready titles I can only guess. The contractual pressure to put something out sooner rather than later may play a role here. The BRD trilogy seems to serve as a crystal-clear case in which they'd choose not to wait for Veronika Voss.
I understand the rationale when bulking titles for boxsets, but that certainly doesn't explain why they're choosing, say, House of Games rather than Z. Moreover, as I wrote, there's not just the question of being some kind of 4K-extremist. There are also plenty of fine 2K restorations, but also many fine but dated (or dated but fine) HD masters. I'm not going to list movies that could be upgraded by Criterion, but there are tons of them, many with better HD masters or restorations than these 2019 upgrades (An Angel at my Table isn't very good either, for instance). Boudu is one of them (at the top of my head), but And The Ship Sails On, Pickup on South Street, Les dames du bois de Boulogne or Salvatore Giuliano would be titles I would have expected to be upgraded way faster than these other titles.

nitin
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:49 am

Re: 399 House of Games

#109 Post by nitin » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:01 am

Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:05 am
andyli wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:27 am
No need to get sarcastic. I'm merely pointing out the fact that no label is factoring the quality (or freshness) of a master into their SRP. New 4K resto could as well end up in a bargain bin as Criterion et al. charge a premium for old HD transfer. On average it all levels off for people buying stuff on a regular basis. I too wish labels were releasing movies solely from 4K restorations, but until the restoration cost/licensing fee drop to a manageable level it's simply not gonna happen.
I have bought crappy releases from Arrow (Dark Water, Pulse), but at least they were nearly half price of what Criterion charges when new and I picked them up at a sale at Fopp for £7. If one charges nearly $30, releasing a blu-ray that poor is a rip-off and I don’t know why they even bother. It’s the last time I put in a pre-order with Criterion. House of Games was one of my most anticipated titles on blu-ray, so the disappointment has made me extra cranky.
Isn’t your comparison slightly distorted by comparing a sale purchase with a pre-order though? Arrow regularly charge 15-18 pounds for a new release with an older master. Granted, on sale, the House Of Games blu would still be $20 but that comparison would be fairer.

nitin
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:49 am

Re: 399 House of Games

#110 Post by nitin » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:06 am

Tenia, I assume it’s something simple like X producer liking a particular film and wanting to upgrade it. And then they budget for the release depending on forecast sales etc. Otherwise, it is strange that something like An Angel At My Table gets an upgrade (from an older master) when it is unlikely to be a huge seller.

Also, pretty sure House of Games master is from 2007, so not 20+ years old.

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tenia
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Re: 399 House of Games

#111 Post by tenia » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:17 am

nitin wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:06 am
Tenia, I assume it’s something simple like X producer liking a particular film and wanting to upgrade it. And then they budget for the release depending on forecast sales etc. Otherwise, it is strange that something like An Angel At My Table gets an upgrade (from an older master) when it is unlikely to be a huge seller.
This is most certainly the case, but I'd also expect a premium label to include technical possibilities into the business case (Criterion has some flexibility in the sales potentials area, though, so why not). I'd also assume that producers can't do whatever they want, because in the end, the brand-name is the front-end. They're still within a company with a reputation to hold.
I doubt, for instance, that whoever is above them who let the producing members upgrading a string of movies all having only dated HD masters just because they like those movies and want them upgraded. So it most certainly already is part of the upgrade business cases, it just seems that how outdated the master can be seems, at times, quite too much for whatever reason.
On the other hand, maybe these titles are actually allowed to be upgraded in these mediocre conditions because, precisely, they're not that big sellers. I imagine Criterion would get way more flack if this would happen on, say, their Eisenstein movies.
nitin wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:06 am
Also, pretty sure House of Games master is from 2007, so not 20+ years old.
Fair enough.
Many of the pre-existing HD masters on the market are rather from early 00s (or late 90s) than late 00s, though, hence my remark (and seeing how this one looks, it seemed to fit this era).

nitin
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:49 am

Re: 399 House of Games

#112 Post by nitin » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:49 am

Criterion produced the HD master for their 2007 DVD and it was supervised by the DOP and restored at that time. It’s not one of MGM’s made for tv HD telecines :)

Also, re sales, I could be wrong but I would imagine titles upgraded with existing masters like Stranger Than Paradise, Night on Earth and House of Games are probably strong sellers. Which is why it is a bit baffling that these didn’t at least get newer restorations. I get something like An Angel at My Table but not these.

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