Criterion/MoC Overlaps

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Awesome Welles
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#51 Post by Awesome Welles » Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:16 am

OliverB wrote:The MOC line does not sell exclusively to UK collectors.

As far as licensing is concerned they do.
OliverB wrote:If they're not careful with their selections in keeping this sort of thing to a minimum, they could essentially be cutting off a good percent of their international buyers like myself who import their releases.

Yes but their main market is still their domestic market. Let's not also forget that, as mentioned, in some cases overlap is a good thing. This is also handy for someone like me who can't always afford to buy and have to rent occasionally. Without the MoC Teshigaharas I wouldn't have been able to see them as I rented them, I wouldn't have been able to rent the CC's when they came out (even if I did eventually buy them). Sometimes I long for more Criterion overlaps so I can specifically rent them, rather than buying something I am unsure about.
OliverB wrote:Like I said before, there is a VAST selection of as of yet unreleased cinema in any home video format. It's nice to see so many silents getting the proper treatment and I love how MOC is expanding to animated releases as well (which Criterion has yet to touch upon) - in fact I'd love to see some classic animation released!
MoC/CC need to make money in order to finance other releases and if overlaps is going to help them do that then I'm in favour. For every best selling Kwaidan and F for Fake something like Abhijan is taken a risk on.

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#52 Post by OliverB » Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:42 am

I understand and agree, though I'm not so sure that a title like Kwaiden would automatically translate to big sales profits. Let's not forget these are still being pushed to a niche market of film enthusiasts and collectors. And I reiterate that there are still dozens upon dozens of yet unreleased titles and others that have been severely mistreated on home video, that would do just as well for a company like MOC and appeal to the same core audience. That is all I am saying. It's not so much a question of assured sales versus taking risks. There are many catalogue titles from the major studios that could be licensed out, probably a lot easier in the UK than Criterion would have stateside, that would be just as popular and advance the MOC line of avant-garde cinema just as well. I understand the rental market and everything you explain. It certainly has it's benefits. But at the same time, they could be issuing stuff that isn't available... that's just as good! That's the only point I'm trying to get across. I'm just looking at the Masters Of Cinema selections in terms of importance and collective significance not only to eclectic cinema but to home video as well. In the end, companies like MOC and Criterion are really acting out as preservationists of quality cinema in an age when the art of filmmaking is sadly lifeless and defunct. There's equal responsibility to build upon these available libraries of classic, foreign and arthouse film so that they're properly cared for and maintained. Of course I get the concept of capitalism and realize that MOC is a business and understand the concept of cost/return. I just think that rather than shelling out for the tender marinated kobe fillet two nights in a row, why not try something different that you haven't yet tasted, and order the equally savory foie gras... that's kind of a stupid allusion huh? It's just a matter of accessibility and despite the quality of the collection, what's currently available to purchase does not necessarily equate to higher art than the many wonderful andmany revered films that are not on the market (available on dvd/video).

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Awesome Welles
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#53 Post by Awesome Welles » Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:14 am

Yes we all wish MoC/CC and anyone who will do it would release stuff that isn't already out there, believe me a have an excel sheet of over a hundred films I'd like to see. I'm sure our more seasoned cineastes have longer than I care to imagine. I just don't see the point in complaining about overlaps, especially when they are essentially no bad thing. Making films readily available to domestic audiences, shock, horror.

With regards to sales I point you to this thread.

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#54 Post by OliverB » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:01 am

For the record, I'm not complaining anywhere in this thread. Just offering a personal opinion.
Good: METROPOLIS, KWAIDAN, PUNISHMENT PARK, SUNRISE, F FOR FAKE
As you can see, with the exception of "F For Fake" which is a wider recognized and more familiarly credited title that would obviously bring in higher domestic sales and probably even reach a crossover audience that exists outside this community of film buffs and collectors... all of the other titles (Kwaidan aside) are ones that are not available in any other region in definitive form.

Sunrise and Metropolis are the two giants of silent cinema and I believe only Kino and possibly some older Eureka release of these exist in acceptable albeit varying degrees of quality. So these exist in the MOC lineup as exclusives for that reason. Punishment Park as well. I'm not surprised these are the biggest sellers.
GREY GARDENS seems to be doing well, SALESMAN less so.
Just a thought but perhaps the reason being that many people have already owned the CC versions of these films. And I could be mistaken but if I remember correctly the Beaver review stated that Salesman was basically identical to the Crit. transfer and I think Grey Gardens might have been slightly improved? I forget. Of course the extras differ and you have to factor domestic sales and all that. But I'm sure had it been any other unreleased early Maysles docu, sales probably would have been higher based on.. again.. market availability alone. I could be completely off the ball, but that's just my theory.

And again, I'm very happy with the MOC series and am an avid collector. I'd just rather see less crossover with currently available Criterion discs because I'll just end up spending less money on new MOC releases.

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#55 Post by MichaelB » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:13 am

You also need to bear in mind that it's often (in fact, usually) the case that high-quality restorations are funded by selling the rights to as many territories as possible.

I can't speak for MoC, but the stellar technical standards of my own Quay Brothers DVDs were only affordable because we managed to sell the rights to France and the US, which helped fund extensive restoration and HD mastering from the original materials.

The downside from OliverB's perspective is that the BFI, Zeitgeist and ED Distribution ended up releasing packages that were substantially identical (unsurprisingly, as they were sourced from the same masters) - but the alternative isn't necessarily going to be three different titles being released to a similar standard. It may well be that the title in question doesn't get released at all, or released in a drastically inferior transfer sourced from an elderly release print.

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#56 Post by Darth Lavender » Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:20 am

OliverB wrote:Sunrise and Metropolis are the two giants of silent cinema and I believe only Kino and possibly some older Eureka release of these exist in acceptable albeit varying degrees of quality. So these exist in the MOC lineup as exclusives for that reason. Punishment Park as well. I'm not surprised these are the biggest sellers.
Actually, Sunrise is available in an excellent package from 20th Century Fox (factoring in price, probably the finest box-set I've ever bought)
It came exclusively in a box-set with the Special Editions of All About Eve, A Gentlemen's Agreement and How Green Was My Valley (same special features as the Eureka, but on 1 dual-layer disk instead of 2 single-layer)
Whole thing cost me $20 Australian (probably $30 from most stores)
I'm guessing, perhaps, that most people aren't aware of the release because it rarely comes up in product searches for "Sunrise" (called something like the "Screen Classics Collection,") which would explain it still being such a big seller for MoC.

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#57 Post by Tommaso » Tue Oct 23, 2007 2:31 pm

"Sunrise" was also already out in Spain on a nice two-disc set with basically the same extras (barring the booklet, of course). "Metropolis" the same (in Germany, Spain, France). If I remember correctly, the German disc even has English subs. But of course these are indeed stellar examples of silent film making (or of all film making), and nobody in their right mind would decline to release these films if they got the chance to. I know that there are many people out there who are into the Maysles films and also Schroeder's "Idi", but with all due respect: certainly not the same league as Lang and Murnau, and thus no need to re-make the Criterions.

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#58 Post by Andre Jurieu » Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:29 pm

OliverB wrote:
Good: METROPOLIS, KWAIDAN, PUNISHMENT PARK, SUNRISE, F FOR FAKE
...all of the other titles (Kwaidan aside) are ones that are not available in any other region in definitive form.

So these exist in the MOC lineup as exclusives for that reason. Punishment Park as well. I'm not surprised these are the biggest sellers.
As someone already mentioned the FOX Sunrise disc, I'll mention that the Region 1 Punishment Park from Project X is pretty much the same package (I believe there might be some slight differences in the written material that is included) and the transfers are almost the same. If it isn't definitive, it's pretty darn close.

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#59 Post by OliverB » Wed Oct 24, 2007 6:54 am

No I believe the MOC actually has the upper hand in terms of PQ and extras, if even marginally. But the point being that being included in the collection offers a distinction all it's own with classy artwork and the fine booklet included with extensive information, etc. It's clearly a more distinctive and lovingly packaged product than anything Fox or any other major studio has put out. Which is why people/collectors like myself will always opt for the MOC/Criterions... but where you run into an issue is when you start rehashing titles amongst the two. Because they do basically serve the exact same purpose as far as cinema presentation is concerned. But again this is just my opinion.

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#60 Post by MichaelB » Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:22 am

OliverB wrote:Which is why people/collectors like myself will always opt for the MOC/Criterions... but where you run into an issue is when you start rehashing titles amongst the two. Because they do basically serve the exact same purpose as far as cinema presentation is concerned. But again this is just my opinion.
Well, as FSimeoni pointed out above, in a strictly legal sense they don't "serve the exact same purpose", as they're supplying different territories, and they only have the legal right to supply those territories. The fact that customers choose to ignore this by importing from abroad is neither here nor there.

Obviously, single-territory distributors are well aware of what goes on, and don't exactly discourage it from happening - but that's not a strong enough argument for refusing to release a film in a particular region just because someone else is doing it abroad. For starters, not everyone imports DVDs, and not everyone can handle material outside their region code or video system (these forums are not representative of the general public!).

Secondly, of course, there's the point I made above about the financial need for international co-operation on restoration projects. As I understand it, Albert Maysles essentially restored his films at his own expense, and it would clearly be absurd to stipulate that he only be allowed to sell the DVD rights to one distributor: he'd never recoup his investment! But that's the kind of thing you seem to be calling for.
Last edited by MichaelB on Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#61 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:23 am

Not good: TARTUFFE, MICHAEL, ASPHALT, ABHIJAN
How many of those had releases before MoC?

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#62 Post by OliverB » Wed Oct 24, 2007 9:57 am

Not sure about ABHIJAN but you can't use silent cinema as a comparison. Silents films have never sold as well and exist today in a niche of a niche market. I know many people who live and breathe film-history and are not big fans of silent cinema. Especially lesser known entires selling at higher cost. As much as I appreciate these efforts, it's no big surprise either that they haven't sold as well as others in the collection, though it is unfortunate.

And MichaelB, for the last time I am not wishing for any company to be unable to recoup investments or lose finances on risk-taking ventures. How many times do I have to explain myself? I've never said as much...

There are MANY viable films that would make for choice entries into the collection that would serve better than "reissues" of titles that have already been made definitive, and probably make just as much in return. And again, this is my personal opinion!

I realize that the R2/R1 market serves to different consumers, that was clearly not what I meant when I stated that these two companies serve similar purposes. I was speaking in terms of their direction and attitudes towards releasing distinct/thoughtful/artful/classic/quality cinema. Their approach is clearly different than other independant labels and major studio releases. And still, many of the releases from both companies are in fact region-free so obviously the studios themselves recognize this.

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#63 Post by skuhn8 » Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:19 am

OliverB wrote:There are MANY viable films that would make for choice entries into the collection that would serve better than "reissues" of titles that have already been made definitive, and probably make just as much in return. And again, this is my personal opinion!
I think it's referring to it as a reissue (whether in quotes or italics) that will stick in some people's caw. This topic has been beaten to death elsewhere, but resurfaces from time to time: not surprising since most of the folks here are multi-region I believe.
Essentially its complaing (ok, musing) next to their Malata that companies already struggling to stay afloat should adjust their business model to their specific buying habits.
There's even a subsection of this group that feels some compulsion to buy every CC that comes out and takes it as a personal attack on their consumer rights and expectations when they release a title available somewhere else in the world or by Richard Linklater.

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#64 Post by OliverB » Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:30 am

Well that's just ridiculous.

I simply passed on titles like "Nightmare Alley" (despite the excl. extras) because I've been collecting the Fox Noir Series and there are dozens of Criterions I won't and haven't bought simply because I don't enjoy the films.

I never said anywhere in this thread that I feel the company should be compelled to change their business habits to suit my buying needs. In fact I've stressed time and time again that this is simply MY OPINION and I would PREFER to see them not release AS MANY titles that also happen to be avail. from Criterion. In fact my original statement was something to the effect of" "I hope it doesn't become a continual practice"...

I hope MOC sees as much profits from their releases as possible because it's more than deserved! But I also hope they do not dig into Criterion's market by "reissuing" many titles that are already available as part of that collection. Simply because I'd like to support both companies independently by buying separate releases of new films as they are put out. And not having to chose between the two for which to support. Obviously MOC will see more sales from the UK/Europe as they release crossover films from Criterion. But I would HOPE that this is simply an overthought and they do not consciously dig into the Criterion library to issue future titles as it'd deviate from the potential of their own expanding titles which, I'd much RATHER purchase.

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#65 Post by Tommaso » Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:04 am

MichaelB wrote:. For starters, not everyone imports DVDs, and not everyone can handle material outside their region code or video system (these forums are not representative of the general public!).
You're quite right of course, but on the other hand it might be said that MoC's catalogue is also not representative of the tastes of the general public. I can only speak for myself and those people I personally know: not a single person among them who has any interest in buying 'arthouse' (in the broadest possible sense of the term) dvds on a regular basis is NOT region free. I know this is different in the US, but I think regional restrictions are pretty much yesterday's topic in Europe, at least among the more intense dvd collectors.
OliverB wrote: I know many people who live and breathe film-history and are not big fans of silent cinema..
All the more important, then, that MoC manages to release them with the care and attention they receive. For the greatest part my admiration for MoC stems from their efforts for silent cinema, something that CC almost completely neglects. And the more I think of it: if it's necessary to release "F for Fake" to finance things like "Toni" (not a silent, but also having poor sales apparently) or "Asphalt", then be it so. Although in an ideal world, I'm with you in saying that I'd love to see other films first, and especially more silents. And if MoC manages to get such a fan base as CC, people who - as Skuhn pointed out - buy each and every release, those 'fan-boys' will then get some new perspectives on what film can do. How can you "live and breathe film-history" and not love silent cinema, perhaps more than anything else? It's cinema in its purest form in my view.

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#66 Post by MichaelB » Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:31 pm

OliverB wrote:And MichaelB, for the last time I am not wishing for any company to be unable to recoup investments or lose finances on risk-taking ventures. How many times do I have to explain myself? I've never said as much...
But you're complaining about the same film being released in more than one territory, which I'm arguing effectively amounts to the same thing (whether you're intending to say that or not).

It might help if you addressed some of my specific examples: how do you think the Quay Brothers or Maysles Brothers DVDs would have been commercially viable (at least to that level of filmmaker-approved quality) if it wasn't for the producer of the transfers being able to licence the DVD distribution rights to more than one territory?
There are MANY viable films that would make for choice entries into the collection that would serve better than "reissues" of titles that have already been made definitive, and probably make just as much in return. And again, this is my personal opinion!
Yes, but it's an opinion that doesn't seem to take much account of financial or logistical realities.

I can't speak for MoC, but the BFI and Criterion often pool resources when it comes to transfers - as they operate in different territories, there's no good reason not to given the obvious financial and logistical benefits. But this does inevitably mean that the same title (and the same transfer!) will appear on both labels as a completely unavoidable side-effect.

But what's your alternative?

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#67 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed Oct 24, 2007 2:25 pm

MichaelB wrote:But what's your alternative?
How about locking this thread?

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#68 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:19 pm

FSimeoni wrote:How about locking this thread?
Why?

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#69 Post by peerpee » Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:02 pm

Not every film that is unavailable on DVD is immediately available to our fingertips for MoC release. For many reasons, from lack of a film restoration, to owners demanding "modern art" prices even just for access -- there are often huge obstacles.

Films that have been film restored and which become available to us often have a small window of opportunity where we can try and pick them up. For example, with F FOR FAKE -- a rare chance to get Welles in the MoC Series -- we snapped it up to bolster our range. Folk who buy F FOR FAKE might want to take a risk on ABHIJAN, TARTUFFE, MICHAEL, ASPHALT, etc etc.

Not to be petty, but half of our "Criterion overlaps" were released by us first --- PITFALL, THE FACE OF ANOTHER, FRANCESCO GIULLARE DI DIO, VENGEANCE IS MINE, SCANDAL, THE IDIOT, etc.

For these choices to be "bothersome" because there are "much better choices [for MoC release] than rehashes of already issued Criterion titles" completely ignores the situation here in the UK, and glosses over the day-to-day struggle to acquire acceptable materials. OliverB, are you American? -- Criterion releases are not readily available in UK stores.

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#70 Post by MichaelB » Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:18 pm

Just to back up Peerpee's excellent post, I've just had a potentially very exciting project fall through because we couldn't reach a reasonable agreement with the rightsholder. I suspect they'll come back to me once they realise that no-one else is going to make them a better offer, but there are often reasons for films being unavailable that are entirely outside distributors' control.

There seems to be this widespread impression that there's some huge supermarket out there where distributors can just shop around for perfect copies of anything they fancy, and the absence of particular films from the marketplace is just down to laziness (a term I see banded about far too often for my taste).

In reality, tracking down rights and materials can be a long, hard slog, and it may well be the case that what appeared to be an exclusive release at the time the project was initiated might not be so by the time it's completed, for reasons entirely beyond the distributor's control.

To give a good example, the first meeting to discuss the BFI's Jan Å vankmajer project was held in January 2004 - at a time when only about half his short films were available on DVD. By the time the BFI package finally came out a few months ago, virtually everything was available on other labels. So should I have pulled the plug on the project when most of the remaining films came out in the US and France? Or carried on, relying on the fact that I was working on a significantly superior edition? I think the answer's pretty obvious - and I have no regrets whatsoever!

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#71 Post by arsonfilms » Wed Oct 24, 2007 5:20 pm

There seems to be a common misconception that everyone who buys DVDs does so online, and that anyone who takes home video seriously is free from any region restrictions. If this were the case, B&M stores wouldn't exist, and European producers would sell exponentially more copies of their titles than they do. Just to give an idea of the numbers I'm talking about, as a former DVD producer I used a 10:1 ratio in terms of sales estimates between the US and UK. If I had the US and UK rights to a title that sold 50,000 units in the US first, my sales goal for the same title in the UK was 5,000. This is simply because the US is comparatively enormous, but it also factors in anyone from another territory buying the DVD in question.

You would be amazed by how little American sales factor into British releases. I'm sure that MichaelB and Peerpee could speak to this issue with more authority, but if everyone in the UK simply bought the US edition, there wouldn't be much point in releasing anything in the UK at all. Case in point, a few years ago I was working on the UK edition of a TV show that had been out in the US for some time. When my then-boss found the US version listed for sale on amazon.co.uk, he nearly pulled out of the deal. This was a prestige title for us, and certainly would have raised our profile, plus the show simply wasn't available to most Brits. Thankfully he was talked down, and the show did well. Any title available to a distributor is fair game, and should remain as such, even if only to make any given title available to as many people as possible.

The topic of US/UK cross-pollination has come up a number of times on this forum, and I'd imagine it will continue to come up as more and more new members join. So what does this mean for American consumers? Well, I for one will only import a disc if I know it to be superior to an existing American release, or if I like the reputation of the UK distributor more than the US one (MoC vs. Kino, for instance, is a no-brainer). Criterion vs. MoC is a little trickier, as is anything that hasn't yet been released (or perhaps even sold) in the US, but if you're open to buying in other territories, you have to be comfortable with the risk of something better coming out at home. For Brits, I'd like to heartily recommend the same advice. Buy the best product availble, but when in doubt BUY LOCAL.

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#72 Post by OliverB » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:07 pm

peerpee wrote:Not every film that is unavailable on DVD is immediately available to our fingertips for MoC release. For many reasons, from lack of a film restoration, to owners demanding "modern art" prices even just for access -- there are often huge obstacles.

Films that have been film restored and which become available to us often have a small window of opportunity where we can try and pick them up. For example, with F FOR FAKE -- a rare chance to get Welles in the MoC Series -- we snapped it up to bolster our range. Folk who buy F FOR FAKE might want to take a risk on ABHIJAN, TARTUFFE, MICHAEL, ASPHALT, etc etc.

Not to be petty, but half of our "Criterion overlaps" were released by us first --- PITFALL, THE FACE OF ANOTHER, FRANCESCO GIULLARE DI DIO, VENGEANCE IS MINE, SCANDAL, THE IDIOT, etc.

For these choices to be "bothersome" because there are "much better choices [for MoC release] than rehashes of already issued Criterion titles" completely ignores the situation here in the UK, and glosses over the day-to-day struggle to acquire acceptable materials. OliverB, are you American? -- Criterion releases are not readily available in UK stores.
Perpee, I'm Canadian actually and I think you might be misunderstanding my point of view although I do appreciate your input greatly.

All I ever stated in this thread, to the point where it's now simply getting repetitive, is that I simply hope that in future, it does not become a continual and prominent factor in the collection. I'm not terribly bothered by the odd overlaps here and there. Of course as an avid enthusiast and collector of MOC releases, I would hope it remain minimal. Though I'm very happy for titles like F For Fake which would bring in more sales and profits better spent towards remastering and releasing more films.

I am also not oblivious to the fact of rights ownership and licensing fees. I know it's not magic and you cannot simply snap your fingers and pull a dvd out of your sleeve. I'm sure there are dozens of tentative selections on your list for future releases that have not yet been lovingly restored and/or released on home video in the sort of packages that your company constantly produces. And those are the sort of releases that I personally look forward to!

I just hope that in a year or two from now, when many of said titles are made available and the range of foreign and arthouse entries in your collection grows more extensive, that you will not turn your focus primarily to stuff that is already done by companies like Criterion.

I think everyone is simply reading into my statements wrongly. I'm just expressing the fact that I would PREFER to not see it become an expected or usual occurance or habit or what have you. And for the record, those that were done by your company first, with the exception of one or two titles, are the ones that I own the MOC releases of. I'm really just expressing my personal opinion here.

And btw, I am in fact happy with certain overlaps like KWAIDEN... in which MOC vastly improved upon Criterion's LACKLUSTER release (to say the least!)

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#73 Post by s.j. bagley » Mon Nov 12, 2007 8:35 pm

am i mistaken in thinking that most of the titles that do overlap have substantially different supplementary material?
(which, in a number of cases, would lead me to rather cherrfully buy both.)

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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation Vo

#74 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:59 pm

dad1153 wrote:
ianungstad wrote:More Japanese horror coming! From the Janus Film twitter page:

http://twitpic.com/23svsz" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Black Cat from director Kaneto Shindo.
More B&W scope Japanese horror on the collection, hooray! \:D/
Another film already available on MOC, hooray! \:D/

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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation Vo

#75 Post by tajmahal » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:13 pm

domino harvey wrote:Another film already available on MOC, hooray! \:D/
A recall Nick hinting some time ago that Onibaba might be a candidate for the blu treatment, and a double bill with a Kuroneko upgrade would be perfect.

Ghost Cat 101 http://www.weirdwildrealm.com/f-kaibyo.html

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