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MGM's DVD Class Action Settlement 518

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the loss-of-picture-quality dept.
MrFreak writes "Apparently all of MGM's 'theatrical wide screen' DVD releases for the last few years have been the pan-scanned versions with the top and bottoms cut off. I checked this against my copy of CQ, and it's true. The list (PDF) of butchered movies includes almost every Woody Allen film, Silence of the Lambs, and Ghost World, just to name a few. If you own any of the eligible movies, you have until March 31 to either opt to exchange your copy for $7.10, or a new DVD from MGM, presumably in its proper aspect ratio." Update: 01/28 19:44 GMT by M : The above is not correct. A comment does a reasonable job of explaining; see the Aspect Ratio FAQ for background. The movies themselves have not been cut twice; they've been cut once, because they were originally formatted for television.
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MGM's DVD Class Action Settlement

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  • Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ONU CS Geek (323473) *
    It's down already.

    Actually, while it was in the "Members only" phase, it seemed to go down, but the google cache of this stuff has the info as well as the cached files (and the HTML files for those who don't like to read PDF files).

    Maybe they pulled it before it got too much attention? The big media companies would never do that. Never.
    • Here is a mirror.... [western-alliance.net] for what it's worth.

      now fetching a bucket for when my server pukes.
    • by Deeze (854182) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:25AM (#11503576)
      I'm posting this where hopefully, it will be seen. Please read, and understand what is being said in alot of comments before you do something like send your DVD's in. The /. article is in ERROR about the movies being twice cropped. The case is about the fact that MGM have misleading information about the way the full frame versions are created. MGM says they are using a pan and scan method which loses information on the sides due to being cropped, while the fact of the matter is the movies were shot open frame, which makes the width of both versions the same. Understand that this does not mean the widescreen movies are butchered. They are not. Can somebody please, please do an editorial edit of the article above so that it is not as terribly misleading as it is right now.
  • R1 only? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by philbowman (707419) * on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:12AM (#11502326)
    Does this only apply to R1 disks, or are other regions similarly faulty? Do we (e.g. in the UK) have any recourse if so? Also, will the replacement DVDs they're offering still be the dodgy ones?
    • Re:R1 only? (Score:3, Informative)

      by sifi (170630)
      From the notice of class action settlement:

      ALL CONSUMERS IN THE UNITED STATES WHO OWM MGM WIDESCREEN DVDS IDENTIFIED IN THIS NOTICE

      So I guess that means it is only important where you live, not what the region encoding is. If you are still unsure you can call the Claims Administrator at the folling toll-free number 1-800-285-2168

      Failing that I'd call watchdog :-) (UK's consumer 'justice' programme)

    • What this? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:48AM (#11502571)
      Is hell freezing over or did I just hear a European wanting to be included in the US legal system?
    • Re:R1 only? (Score:2, Informative)

      by carwyn (143288)

      Well I've just skimmed though Spaceballs and there are certainly frames that seem a little cramped (e.g. anything with a radar screen).

      I don't think we can get in on the US suit but I certainly think it's pushing trade descriptions.

      Actaully if you try playing a DVD in a window on a computer you can tell quite easily actually. Anything pan scanned with still display in a 4:3 window.

  • Myopia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by psi42 (747491) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:12AM (#11502327)
    Heh... are we all so blind?


    I don't remember noticing this, or hearing about it.
  • I'm aghast! (Score:5, Funny)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:12AM (#11502329)
    I noticed this recently when I downloaded the iso .torrent of Silence of the Lambs and burned it to a DVD with DVDShrink. I'm outraged that they would rip me off like this!

    I'm going to contact them immediately and ask for them to make restitution.

    • Re:I'm aghast! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:45AM (#11502554) Journal
      Yep. Funny. But look at the dollar figures:
      Media Giant rips you off:.. $7.10 per copy
      You rip off Media Giant:.$150,000 per copy
      ... and ...
      Media Giant does this in an organized fashion: no criminal sanctions
      You do this in an organized fashion:.........: criminal record, PMITA jail time
    • Re:I'm aghast! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Maestro4k (707634) on Friday January 28, 2005 @09:03AM (#11502730) Journal
      While I know you were trying to be funny, there's a serious point here as well. Ignoring the quality of the movies (which is subjective, one man's trash is another man's treasure) how can the studios complain about piracy when they willfully defraud customers like this?

      I wonder how MGM will spin this to make it look like the losses are due to piracy though. They seem to manage to do that for everything, no matter what the loss's true causes were.

      • This is just one of many problems with letting big business control the filmmaker's creativity.

        Personally, I do not use large corporations like MGM for distribution, it gives them too much control of my productions. I distribute them myself.

        The only one instance of the filmmaker getting his way was Welles' Citizen Kane. The studio hated it, but they never got to touch a frame. Ted Turner couldn't even touch it.

  • Interesting... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skatrek (560550) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:13AM (#11502335) Homepage
    I've been trying to convince my dad all these years that the widescreen versions DO contain more of a scene than the fullscreen versions - "they just cut the sides off for fullscreen! it just *looks* like it's less in widescreen!" but apparently he was right (at least in a few cases ;)
  • What about the UK (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Have the UK had the same problem ? If so where do we stand or is the settlement only for the USA.
    • Re:What about the UK (Score:4, Informative)

      by blacksway (464427) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:37AM (#11502487) Homepage Journal
      The Notice on the web site states:

      "Settlement Class" means all consumers in the United States who acquired or purchased for their own use and not for resale widescreen DVDs manufactured by or on behalf of MGM which were created for films shot in the aspect ratio of 1.85 to 1 or 1.66 to 1 from December 1998 to September 8, 2003.

      So not the UK.

      Also, from what I read it the March 31st deadline is for the opt out of the class action suit - and not the exchange of the DVD.

      Also, the action hasn't gone to court yet (by the looks of it) so hasn't even been won! The hearing is scheduled for May 16, 2005 at 10:30 a.m. at Department CCW-322 of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
      • Re:What about the UK (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Todesmetall (826497)
        Correct me if I'm wrong, but this notice seems to say that only "consumers in the United States" can take part in this settlement.

        I still don't know if RC2 discs have the same problems as the RC1 ones. I doubt that MGM uses completely different mastering processes for each region.

    • mail your disc to a USican.
  • Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by psi42 (747491) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:14AM (#11502343)
    Eallonardo, et al. v MGM, et al., Claims Administration Website

    Welcome to the MGM DVD Settlement Website

    You are a member of the proposed settlement class if between December 1, 1998 to September 8, 2003, you purchased certain MGM widescreen DVDs (DVDs for films shot in the aspect ratio of 1.85 to 1 or 1.66 to 1). To view the Eligible DVD List, please click here. To view the detailed Notice of Class Action and Proposed Settlement, please click here.

    If the proposed settlement is approved by the Court, Class Members who submit timely and valid Claim Forms may exchange each Eligible DVD for (i) a new MGM DVD from a list of 325 titles or (ii) $7.10. To request a Claim Form, call 1-800-285-2168 (toll free). Before requesting a Claim Form, please verify that your DVD is an Eligible DVD by reviewing the Eligible DVD List. To view the Eligible DVD List, please click here. Claim Forms must be returned to the Claims Administrator postmarked on or before March 31, 2005.

    If you do not want to remain part of the Class, you must submit a timely and valid Request for Exclusion Form postmarked on or before March 31, 2005. To obtain a Request for Exclusion Form, please click here.

    If you want to remain in the Class, but object to the terms of the Settlement, you must file and serve your objection with the Court and counsel on or before April 11, 2005. The detailed Notice of Class Action and Proposed Settlement provides instructions. To view the detailed Notice of Class Action and Proposed Settlement, please click here.

    The Court will consider the adequacy and fairness of the proposed settlement at a hearing scheduled for May 16, 2005 at 10:30 a.m., 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Department 322 Central Civil West, Los Angeles, California 90005.

    PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING IMPORTANT DATES:
    March 31, 2005 Deadline to Submit Claim Forms

    March 31, 2005 Deadline to Opt Out of the Settlement

    April 11, 2005 Deadline to Object to the Settlement

    May 16, 2005 Court Hearing to Determine Fairness of Settlement
    • Text list of movies (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Posted as AC for your pleasure:

      MGM Class Action Settlement
      ELIGIBLE DVD LIST
      10 TO MIDNIGHT | 1969 | 1984 | 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE
      3 STRIKES | 8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG | ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, THE | ACROSS 110th STREET
      ALICE | ALICE'S RESTAURANT | ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN | ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN 2
      ALL OR NOTHING | ALPHABET CITY | AMAZING GRACE | AMERICAN BUFFALO
      AMERICAN NINJA | AMERICAN NINJA 2 & 3 | AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE | AMOS & ANDREW
      ANGEL LEVINE, THE | ANGEL UNCHAINED/CYCLE SAVAGES | ANGELS A
  • Er. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jethro (14165) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:15AM (#11502349) Homepage
    So I can replace all these DVDs I bought for about $15 each for $7.10 each? How does that make sense? And does it say anywhere that they'll re-release these in /real/ widescreen anywhere? (I've got four DVDs so far and I'm still on page 1)
    • Re:Er. (Score:3, Informative)

      by musikit (716987)
      well first of all you maybe paying $15 for a DVD but that $15 doesnt all go to the studio that prints it. the store you bought it from gets a cut, the distributor gets a cut... etc. etc.

      basically what they are saying is they will reimburse you their portion of the sale.
    • What are the other 2 on page 1?
    • Re:Er. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mpe (36238) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:35AM (#11502472)
      So I can replace all these DVDs I bought for about $15 each for $7.10 each?

      Rather they will buy them from you at $7.10 each. Even though you paid nearly twice that for them.
      No doubt they will want to "have their cake and eat it". Both continuing to sell DVDs at a higher price and claiming that pirated copies (including those which don't have the full amount of DVD content) are worth more than this $7.10 figure.
      • Rather they will buy them from you at $7.10 each. Even though you paid nearly twice that for them.

        Lemme tell you something; I worked as a supervisor at my local Fry's Electronics for about two years, and one of them was as the supervisor for CDs & DVDs.

        As a good supervisor, I paid attention to what my buyers were telling me about what products were high-margin, so I knew what to promote. In particular, Fry's seems to have a good relationship with MGM; if you'll notice, you'll see huge displays for MG
    • Re:Er. (Score:3, Informative)

      by mausmalone (594185)
      Well, it's that you can send the product back and get either $7.10 or a DVD from a list of about 400 or so. Unfortunately, the way this thing is worded there's no indication of whether you'll get a "correct" version of the movie you sent in or if you'll just get to pick a movie from MGM's existing library (or even that the list of movies you get to choose from will contain anything at all worth seeing ... MGM makes tons of movies, I bet they could find 400 or so clunkers that they'd be happy to unload on u
  • Open Matte (Score:5, Informative)

    by miTTio (24893) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:17AM (#11502353)
    I was under the impression that theses films' 1.33:1 presentation used the full frame of the film, not pan and scan of the matted, and that the 1.85:1 presentation was correctly matted and framed. I thought that the lawsuit had to deal with MGM's suppliment explaining that the widescreen version had more visual information than the full frame (regardless of the correct information). I doubt that the avid online film community would have stood by as 300+ films were incorrectly framed; I mean a couple of shots in Back to the Future got messed up, and this was known before the dvd hit the street.

    -miTTio
    • I think you're right. I own Wargames and that's on the list. But it's clearly widescreen, not a cropped pan and scan film.

    • Wait, so you're saying that the films were origially shot with a 1.33:1 aspect, but with the intention of matting it to 1.85:1 (or 1.66:1) for theatrical release, and that MGM's "fullscreen" DVDs involve simply removing the matte? Wouldn't that mean the fullscreen DVDs have shots where the boom mic is visible?

      That's interesting, I've never heard that films are actually shot with 1.33:1. Do you have a link for this?
      • Check out this excellent site:
        http://www.widescreen.org/aspect_ratios.shtml [widescreen.org]
        (right at the bottom of that page open-matte is explained)

        Ben.

      • While it's not a boom mic, this is a decent illustration of the importance of proper framing:

        Here. [twowiresthin.com]

        Look at the A Fish Called Wanda example.

      • Re:Open Matte (Score:5, Informative)

        by mausmalone (594185) on Friday January 28, 2005 @09:15AM (#11502861) Homepage Journal
        Some films are indeed shot at 1.33:1 and then matted to their intended aspect ratio. This is so that there's some "buffer" room at the top and bottom where the editor can remove things like boom mics and improve the positioning of objects.

        You don't see the boom mic in the fullscreen version because DVD's are created in the same way TV versions are: by scaling the widescreen version up and then panning around it.

        Below is a link to an article about shooting in different aspect ratios. Here is the relevant quote:
        The successful answer was Widescreen movies. This was, and still is, achieved in two different ways. One is by using the anamorphic lens which gives us an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. That's the real real wide movies. The other is shot at 1.33:1 and matted in the theater (with that gate that I mentioned earlier) to 1.85:1 which creates a Widescreen display.
        http://www.amateurhometheater.com/In%20Laymans%20T erms/why.htm [amateurhometheater.com]
        • Re:Open Matte (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LMCBoy (185365) *
          You don't see the boom mic in the fullscreen version because DVD's are created in the same way TV versions are: by scaling the widescreen version up and then panning around it.

          Yes, pan-and-scan is how fullscreen is often done. However, in this case, fullscreen was done by removing the matte. So, in fact, you would see parts of the image that weren't intended to be seen, and these sometimes contain boom mics and other "spoilers". See the link provided by the grandparent poster in another reply.
    • Correct (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hanssprudel (323035) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:57AM (#11502653)

      As usual, Slashdot is a source of misinformation for people who do not read the comments. The argument is that these films were actually shot with 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and then cut down to widescreen for the cinema (whether anything is lost in this process is a matter of definition - the viewfinder on the camera will mark what is visible when cut, so the director is fully aware when he chooses his shots).

      When these movies are transfered to 4:3 it is done by expanding the image, not pan-and-scan. The lawsuit is because MGM claimed the opposite - that information was lost. (Perhaps "see it as intended" would have been a better pitch.)

      For a good illustration of this stuff, see here [technosound.co.uk].
  • Offhand (without doublechecking on 'net), I think these are MGM releases. I have about twenty of them in "widescreen". Thanks for the info!
  • Don't forget all the Bond movies, which I think benefit from widescreen a bit more than, say, "Zelig"...
  • At some point in time someone must have invented the process of pan & scan and I would bet the horse that it was some PHB TV network producer with too much coke up his nose. pan & scan is like raping the director, although some directors feel its 'ok' to do this if they are getting enough money, im sure those same directors would feel it ok to pimp their daughters for the right price. Doing that to a film and then cropping it though! I don't know who would be sick enough.
    • Re:Sick, outraged. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sc00ter (99550)
      It was actually to calm the masses that would call and bitch that the picture was getting chopped up. "why is the picture missing on the bottom and top of my TV!".

      They later stretched it making everybody look distorted, then they ended up with pan and scan.

      It was actually the consumers own stupid fault for not realizing that a TV doesn't have the same aspect ratio as a movie screen and calling to bitch about it.

      • In the beginning, there were movies, and they were full frame and life was good. Then came TV. It took the same ratio as full frame and life was not good for the studios since there was one less difference between TV and the movies. Along came widescreen with its promise of "More picture than TV" and life has not been good for us ever since with pre-rerecorded media.
    • pan & scan is like raping the director, although some directors feel its 'ok' to do this if they are getting enough money, im sure those same directors would feel it ok to pimp their daughters for the right price.

      Wow! Someone is even more fanatic about movies than I am. I agree it is unfortunate that they cut away parts of the screen with pan & scan. One of the worst cases I have seen was David Lynch's Blue Velvet. It often lookes as if characters were talking into thin air since the people doing
    • Re:Sick, outraged. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:51AM (#11502601)
      pan & scan is like raping the director

      Oh, it was worse than that 'back in the day.' At least today they buy him dinner first. Lemme explain:

      Circa 20 years ago I was a young Quality Control Guy working for a Major Pay TV Network. I had done some straight telecine before, for both Broadcast and Cable outlets, but that day I was approached to do my first pan-and-scan. Of course I understood the process, but I was amazed that I was being asked to do it for a particular film without any creative or studio supervision.

      "But, I'm, like, just a Tech Guy!" I argued.

      "Use your best judgement," the PHB shot back, adding (with a keen if accidental prescience), "Do you want to be 'just a Tech Guy' for the rest of your life?"

      So I did the deed. Panned and scanned a classic flick, in some cases choosing which actors' faces appeared in certain shots, and which were disembodied off-screen voices. Of course, this was before the days of even home video, let alone DVD, so there was no danger of anyone ever buying the RobotRunAmok-Cut collaboration with an Oscar-winning director, but it did air on Pay Cable before millions of paying subscribers, most of whom had prolly never seen the theatrical version.

      It was less than ten years later, and the pan-and scan process had become a Great Art. Cable Nets were flying Techs, Creatives, Lawyers, and Admin Assistants around the country for tens of thousands of dollars to do across a week's time what I did that afternoon after lunch.

      I'm (reasonably) certain they're all doing a better job than I did...
  • "Presumably..." (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YetAnotherName (168064) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:20AM (#11502373) Homepage
    I'd be wary of this; from the settlement:

    for either (1) a new MGM DVD from a list of 325 titles or (2) a cash refund of $7.10.

    That list of 325 titles doesn't necessarily include fixed versions of the broken DVDs. Heck, it might be nothing but movies of the calibre of Manos: The Hands of Fate, Mitchell, I Accuse My Parents, and so forth.
  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sg3000 (87992) * <sg_public.mac@com> on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:28AM (#11502421)
    Wow! A $7.50 refund for a DVD you probably paid $20 for!

    From the settlement:
    The gravamen of Plaintiffs' Complaint is that certain representations on the label and package insert of MGM's widescreen DVDs are false and misleading because MGM's widescreen DVDs for films shot in the 1.85 to 1 aspect ratio
    have the same image width as MGM's standard screen format DVDs.

    MGM has denied and continues to deny that any portion of the packaging on the outside or inside of its widescreen DVDs is misleading. MGM has asserted and continues to assert many defenses to Plaintiffs' Complaint and expressly has denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing or liability whatsoever arising out of any of the conduct, acts or omissions alleged or that could have been alleged in the action.

    Wait a minute. Why can't MGM answer a simple question -- did they letterbox a pan-and-scan cut of a movie and try to pass it off as a widescreen movie? Although technically they might be correct, this is a pretty blatant way to try to rip off consumers.

    I heard of a certain light beer manufacturer who was responsible for this. The light beer they were selling actually had more calories than the regular beer. When they labelled it as "light," the product was actually just light in color.

    In other news,
    MGM agrees to pay an enhancement award to Plaintiff Warren Eallonardo in the amount of $7,500 and an enhancement award to Plaintiff Joseph Corey in the amount of $5,000

    meanwhile
    The law firms representing the Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class intend to apply to the Court for an award of attorneys' fees and for approval of reimbursement of out-of-pocket litigation costs not to exceed $2,700,000

    Nothing says "America" like a big corporation trying to rip off its customers but denying wrongdoing, and a law firm who sues said corporation for millions but gives the original plaintiffs a couple thousand bucks. If we could somehow work this as a new verse into the Star Spangled Banner, I think we can consider this case done!
    • About the light beer.

      As far as I've heard, Light actually doesn't have to mean anything when put on packaging. This is probably because light is a very ambiguous word. It could mean light in Calories, or light in salt, or light in colour, or in the case of beer, light in alcohol content. In the case of cigarettes it means they have a bigger filter, which makes you suck on it more, which makes it actually worse for you.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

      by iainl (136759) on Friday January 28, 2005 @09:07AM (#11502773)
      MGM denies any wrongdoing because there is nothing wrong with the discs themselves. This can't be stated enough about the issue:

      They are all as near as damnit correctly framed.

      There are minor issues if you want to get picky - MGM frame their discs at a 1.77:1 to give a full 16:9 full frame, rather than the "correct" US framing of 1.85:1. The difference would be lost in overscan anyway by most people, though, so I can't say it bothers me much.

      The lawsuit is actually about the fact that MGM have a little booklet image showing how you're missing information from the sides if you watch Pan 'n' Scan films. This is actually incorrect for most 1.85:1 films, as the 1.33:1 release isn't really a Pan 'n' Scan.

      It's instead an Open Matte, which is where they remove the top and bottom frame mattes to reveal image that wasn't supposed to be there. This is still wrong, as there can be boom mikes up there, random crap down the bottom and generally the shot has not been framed to look right like that.

      So no, you can't use this lawsuit to replace your 'faulty' MGM discs with 'correct' ones; you've already got correctly framed discs. All that MGM have done wrong is be misleading by oversimplifying their explanation of the 'widescreen' process in their booklets. If they'd just left the consumer confused, like every other DVD manufacturer, then this would never have happened.
      • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sg3000 (87992) *
        >The lawsuit is actually about the fact that MGM have a little
        > booklet image showing how you're missing information from
        > the sides if you watch Pan 'n' Scan films. This is actually
        > incorrect for most 1.85:1 films, as the 1.33:1 release isn't
        > really a Pan 'n' Scan.

        You bring up an excellent point.

        There is a difference between

        1. Taking a regular movie, chopping off its sides so it's full screen [please give me a shiny star sticker for using the proper "its/it's" in the above sentence], an
    • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alrescha (50745)
      "Wait a minute. Why can't MGM answer a simple question -- did they letterbox a pan-and-scan cut of a movie and try to pass it off as a widescreen movie?"

      It's not clear that anyone asked that question.

      The complaint is that the 'widescreen' versions of their films have the same image width as their 'full screen' versions, and the implication is that this is automatically bad.

      As another poster has pointed out, if they took a movie that was matted in the theater to 1.85:1 and matted it on the DVD to match, t
  • BIODOME (Score:5, Funny)

    by killmenow (184444) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:30AM (#11502431)
    YES! Thankfully I can get a new, proper wide-screen formatted version of BIODOME. Full screen just ruins that movie (not to mention the cast).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:30AM (#11502433)
    The guy over at widescreen.org [widescreen.org] posted something [widescreen.org] about this settlement a few days ago. Looks like some people thought that it was some kind of anti-widescreen attack when it's more about false advertising of full-screen, open-matte presentations.

    Fortunately, it looks like MGM is probably going to be the only ones open to this kind of lawsuit. I'll bet the lawyers are really happy right now, though! $2 million for the lawyers! I'm in the wrong profession.
  • by Malicious (567158)
    If you own any of the James Bond collections, the following ones are on the list:
    Dr. No.
    Gold Finger
    From Russia with Love
    Man with the Golden Gun
    Live and Let Die

    I'm going to stake my claim right now.
    • On Her Majesty's Secret Service is older than Live and Let Die... Why letterbox it, but not the others... or Moonraker for that matter?
      • by tap (18562) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:58AM (#11502663) Homepage
        It's how the movie was shot. Check the technical specs on IMDB. Live and Let Die [imdb.com] was shot spherical aka flat. That means the original negative isn't widescreen. The widescreen version is created by cutting off the top and bottom. On Her Majesty's Secret Service [imdb.com] on the other hand was shot anamorphic. That means the original negative is widescreen, with a "squished" imaged that is expanded when the movie is shown.

        This lawsuit is just a money grab by some lawyers. There isn't anything wrong with the DVDs. MGM had a description of what widescreen meant that was correct for anamorphic movies, not movies shot open matte.

  • I wasnt aware... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Noofus (114264) *
    This pisses me off as I have a huge collection of DVDs and many are MGMs. All widescreen. Are they trying to tell me I can give up the DVD I bought in exchange for some other movie that is also not fixed? WHy dont they fix the DVDs they screwed up and promise to exchanged the messed up ones for the good ones? SUre thats expensive, but dammit I paid for a wide-screen DVD and I want to get what I paid for. Not some pan-n-scan crap.

    I see spaceballs is on the list and now I realize why I always thought it
    • Re:I wasnt aware... (Score:5, Informative)

      by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:47AM (#11502570) Homepage Journal
      No, you have it backwards. The widescren movies are in their original aspect ratio of either 1.66:1 or 1.85:1. The DVDs are NOT broken. MGM got in trouble by misrepresenting the fact on how the "full frame" version compares.

      Kindly educate yourself [widescreen.org].
      • Many thanks!

        I'm still think MGM made some shady dealings here. All DVDs should have the original aspect ratios in which the film was shot clearly marked on the box along with information about how the movie was cropped/altered etc.
    • Thats just the thing. We all paid for wide-screen (16:9) DVDs and now they're telling us that:

      1) The movies aren't actually widescreen
      2) We won't replace it with a corrected version

      I'm sure as hell not giving them my movie in exchange for $7.10 -- they'll probably rewrap them and sell them as new -- but who knows what crap will be on the list of 325 movies for which I can exchange my bad copy. Its probably a bunch of stuff they couldn't sell anyway. If anything I should get $7.10 and be able to keep as
  • Why has MGM forsaken my widescreen theatrical release of Bio-Dome? WHY???? All I ever wanted was Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin in all their big-screen glory!
  • Pfft... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:38AM (#11502490) Journal
    Woody Allen, huh? Who cares about that g...

    Arrgh, WarGames is on the list!!

    But it says:

    "may exchange each Eligible DVD for (i) a new MGM DVD from a list of 325 titles or (ii) $7.10"

    In other words, they don't replace it with a proper release of the same friggin' movie? Grr... So now I just know my WarGames is butchered and there's not one thing I can do about it. Thanks a lot. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. :-/
    • The best aspect ratio for Woody "I *really* love my daughter" Allen film is 1:0 - then turn the sound down too. To quote Ned Flanders "I like Woody Allen films except for that nervous guy who is always in them."
  • I knew my copy of "Teen Wolf II" wasn't truly widescreen. They totally mangled the majesty of what it was like when I saw it on the big screen, in all its breathtaking glory. Have they no respect for the classics?
  • The list (PDF) of butchered movies

    Ah, once again an unbiased commentary from a /. editor. How refreshing it is to see.

    The fact is that the widescreen movies are not butchered. They are shown in the original aspect ratio that just so happens to be the aspect ratio as preferred by the film makers. You know, the people who spent countless man-hours bringing a movie to you in the method that they feel is best just so you can call it "butchered" just because you don't like the presentation on a $15 DV
  • If you own Body of Evidence, Lambada, or Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (just to name a few), you would need to acknowledge that 1) you not only own the film in question but 2) think enough of it to want a pristine copy (or $7.10).

    Is the remedy really worth your last shred of dignity?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:42AM (#11502525)
    I would refer you to http://www.michaeldvd.com.au/ThatsMySay/ThatsMySay .asp?StepName=Read&ID=21 [michaeldvd.com.au] for the straight dope.

    Calm down people.
  • Duh. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You people are all idiots. These aren't wide screen versions of pan/scanned transfers. It is due to their false claim that the widescreen movies have more visual information on the sides, where as they don't, due to the fact that the 'pan/scanned' transfer is really an open matte transfer. You aren't missing anything with the widescreen transfer, it is just like you wouldve seen it in the theatre.
  • I have a question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tropaios (244000) <tropaios@NOspaM.yahoo.com> on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:45AM (#11502551)
    With the caliber of the majority movies on the list I know I have seen many of these in the bargain binat walmart for $5.50, what's to stop me from picking up a couple hundred/thousand of these and making a nice profit? Besides the obvious amount of work involved, and the fact I'd most likely have topay for shipping in both directions?
  • by ClayJar (126217) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:47AM (#11502568) Homepage
    As I remember my aspect ratios, the theatrical 1.85:1 ratio is filmed non-anamorphically on regular 35mm film, and then the tops and bottom are matted off. The full-frame versions of these films always have more picture than the matted versions (saying so is completely redundant when you consider that they are non-anamorphic, which means they *can't* be wider than a 35mm frame). Incidentally, when a film is made in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, there is no such thing as pan-and-scan -- it is literally full-frame.

    Anamorphic aspect ratios (such as 2.35:1) have a wider picture than the 35mm film frame, and that widescreen picture is optically compressed horizontally (i.e. if you look at a film frame, everybody looks supermodel skinny -- even Peter Jackson). With anamorphic aspect ratios, the widescreen version is "full-frame" on the 35mm film, which means that a 4:3 television formatted version must "pan and scan" across the widescreen frame.

    I won't even get onto Super35, the special film technique used in The Abyss (among other films) except to say that neither the 4:3 version nor the widescreen version contain the whole 35mm frame. In fact, the pan-and-scan version has more picture height, and the widescreen version has more picture width, but part of the 35mm frame (normally the "corners") does not show up in either the theatrical nor the television-format versions.

    Basically, what we have here is people who don't understand aspect ratios and the relationships between film, theatrical projections, and television formats. Apparently enough people are clueless as to win a case about it, but then again, Windows and IE are still in the lead in market share. ;)
  • ...if between December 1, 1998 to September 8, 2003, you purchased certain MGM widescreen DVDs ...

    so if you got goldfinger for chmass in 2004,2005 you might not be eligable.

    Now, i do have some movies like wargames that i bought pre 2003. However i wonder how they will check that its in the timeframe they allow. I just called 1800 for the claim but i wonder if they will require a Recipt of Purchase. If so then i get shit
  • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Friday January 28, 2005 @09:09AM (#11502782) Homepage Journal
    Not to tout my own site, but it's clear that a ton of people here need to educate themselves about "open matte" films. Just because a movie is called "widescreen" does NOT mean that it was filmed anamorphically.

    Please ... before anyone else makes a comment about whether it was the correct aspect ratio or not, please read my section on matted widescreen [widescreen.org] as well as my comments on this matter [widescreen.org] and the various aspect ratios [widescreen.org] that are used in the film making process.

    MGM was wrong not in the presentation but rather their explanation on how the "full frame" version compares. The widescreen DVDs in this list are NOT broken and do NOT need to be "fixed". The are shown in their CORRECT aspect ratio.
  • I can't believe my eyes. Someone is really complaining that the DVD releases are in the aspect ratio that the director and cinematographer intended? Wow!

    All these films have been framed for aspect ratio of 1.66:1 or 1.85:1. It's what the director and cinematographer wanted. It's the aspect ratio that is seen in theaters. It's the correct aspect ratio. Of course, the actual film frame itself has an aspect ratio of about 1.37:1, so there is more information available in the original film frames, but it's not
  • As usual, the one most willing to hurl the accusation of "theft" is the party most given to perpetrating it. (in this case, the movie industry)

    It may be that losing the opportunity of selling a movie to a party who may or may not actually buy it can only obtusely be considered theft. Stealing actual screen content for movies that were bought and paid for, however, most certainly is. I will remember this hypocrisy the next time I am forced to watch a "don't steal movies" ad in the previews or when I see
  • So I just went up and down that webpage and I can't figure out how I can sign up for part of the settlement, or list the movies that I've purchased.

    Ghostworld, Spaceballs and This is Spinal Tap if you're interested.

    Anyway, can someone give me a link for where I can sign up? Thanks.
  • I think its ironic that MGM got in trouble not because the quality of the Widescreen movies was poor (it is the same thing theater goers would have seen), but that their Fullscreen quality was good. If the Fullscreen versions would have been typical pan and scan crap then their claim that the Widescreen version contained more information would have been correct.

    My hunch is that they had a generic marketing plan to slap that text on every Widescreen movie, because in some (most?) cases the Fullscreen versi
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Friday January 28, 2005 @09:19AM (#11502897) Journal
    Back in the 1990s, when I worked at a camera store, my coworkers and I were excited when the "panoramic" cameras were introduced. We thought that they'd use a wider strip of 35mm film and actually take a physically wider picture. However, the only thing that differentiates a "panoramic" camera from a regular camera is that the "panoramic" camera masks off the top and bottom of the picture, leaving a blank space that tells the photofinisher to basically enlarge the picture onto a larger sheet of photographic paper. The actual image isn't any larger.

    But the sad thing is that I used to try to explain to people that it wasn't really a panoramic picture at all. It wasn't using a larger piece of film to shoot onto, it was using a smaller piece of film to shoot onto and then blowing it up bigger when printing. And people would stare at me blankly and say, "So what? It's still a larger picture."

    I'm just glad that this DVD version of the swindle resulted in a lawsuit and a settlement. To think they would do that to a filmmaker's creative work and assume that no-one would notice. How stupid do they think people are? And to think that these companies have the nerve to complain about piracy of their movies, when they're willing to turn a masterfully crafted piece of cinematography into a pile of crap and sell it to us under false pretenses. Uh-oh, I'm foaming at the mouth again. Someone pass me a kleenex.
  • Can I sue? (Score:3, Funny)

    by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:06AM (#11503401) Journal
    I want to sue movie studios for all those 2 hour blocks of my life wasted on dumbass movies that I had to take dates to see. Gawds, the tripe I have been dragged to in the pursuit of a fuck.

    Troy. I was made to sit through Troy.

    *shudder*

    I had to watch Lawrence Of Arabia *and* The Quiet Man the next day as an antidote.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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