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LEAGUECAST SPECIAL EDITION – INTERVIEW WITH BILL HUNT OF ‘THE DIGITAL BITS’

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Posted September 5, 2013 by Adam Moreau in Podcasts

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On this special edition of the LeagueCast podcast, host Adam Moreau goes one-on-one with Bill Hunt, editor-in-chief of The Digital Bits – the Internet’s premiere source for news, reviews, and editorials on the home video industry. Adam and Bill go in-depth on the massive controversy regarding Paramount Home Video’s decision to scatter the bonus features for the U.S. domestic Blu-ray release of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness across several different retailers and digital streaming outlets, forcing fans and consumers to buy multiple versions of the same film from stores like Best Buy and Target in order assemble all of the special content produced for the film.

Bill also discusses the frustrating disappearance of special features from discs; as well as the viability of physical media like Blu-Ray and DVD in the face of the major studios ever-increasing push towards digital streaming; and more topics related to the home entertainment business. It was an honor and a privilege to have Bill on the show, so fire up the iPod, computer speakers, smartphone, or your favorite podcast listening device and check it out!

As always, you can listen to the LeagueCast right here in your browser, download the MP3 file, or check out the show and subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes store. And we welcome your comments and suggestions here in the comment section below, or via e-mail at webmaster@geekleagueofamerica.com.

 

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Text Transcription: 

Adam Moreau: Hello and welcome to the Geek League of America Leaguecast. I am your host, Adam Moreau, and tonight, I am not joined by our usual League of geekly contributors, but instead am joined by a very special guest. He is the Editor-in-Chief of thedigitalbits.com and the guy whose picture is probably hanging in the break room at Paramount Home Video covered in darts, Bill Hunt. Bill, welcome to the show.

Bill Hunt: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.

AM: Bill, let me start by saying that I am huge fan of The Digital Bits and I have been for many years. I read it every day. Your news and your “Two Cents” columns have been one of my favorite stops on “the interwebz”, as they say. For more than 10 years, I think I have been reading your site. For those of you guys who don’t know, Thedigitalbits.com is one of, if not THE internet’s premier stop for news and editorial on the home video business and what it means for you, the consumer. Is that a fair explanation, bill?

BH: well, that’s very kind! We have definitely been, The Digital Bits was one of the first sites, pretty much one of the first publications anywhere, in print or online covering DVD way back in the day. We started in early ’97 right around the time that DVD first began and so the fact that we have been doing it so long and the fact that in the early days there was hardly anybody else covering this stuff, meant that if you were a filmmaker or if you were a director or if you worked in the home video industry, The Bits was pretty much the only place you could go to find news about what was going on in the industry, other than, you know, the typical sort of VARIETY or HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, but even those publication weren’t really covering Blu-ray or DVD at that point. So we’ve just been so plugged in to the industry for so long that we’ve had kind of a unique access. Our readership includes senior studio executives, filmmakers, and has kind of gone all the way back and then obviously we were right in the thick of both format wars. I’m very pleased to say in retrospect, we picked both of those format wars correctly.

AM: You backed the right horse on those.

BH: Yeah exactly, so we advised the readers well in both cases and I think that has served us well. It lends a certain amount of trust that we have with our leaders.

AM: Absolutely, as I said, as a reader of the site for such a long time, you’re always one of the first sites I turn to for opinion and for news. Every day, you are always posting what’s coming out and what’s being announced and then every so often, we usually get your thoughts and editorial on a particular issue, like you said, a format war or something else. I have really loved reading these for a long time and I have been hoping to have you on one of our usual roundtable shows just as a contributor…

BH: Yeah…

AM: …but I thought it was important to have you on sooner to talk about the little firestorm you set off last week.

BH: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting because when we do chime in with editorial comments, we made a decision really early on that our number one goal was to sort of be an advocate not just for the Blu-ray and DVD format, but sort of for consumers of those formats, movie fans, AV enthusiasts and to be kind of a conduit for those people to the studios and vice versa. So when we make an editorial comment, we tend to call things as we see them. WE try to do it very fairly. Every now and then it causes a little bit of a stir.

AM: yeah absolutely. I had initially reached out to you, I was reading, loitering on the Blu-ray.com forums. Over there in the Star Trek Into Darkness thread, somebody had mentioned this spectacular commentary available ONLY through an ITunes download.

BH: (laughs)

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AM: So I asked you because I know you are someone who can get the bottom of these things because of your connections. You looked into it and on August 28th, you posted a review of the disc as well as what I have to say, can’t be described as anything else but a legendary rant for you. The post was titled “PARAMOUNT HAS A BLU-RAY PROBLEM”. Now, tell me what that problem is and tell me about what I hope is the beginning of the end for these problems, specifically with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.

BH: Well you know, the interesting thing is what started to happen in the last year, year and a half or so, is that Blu-ray is becoming a little bit more of a mature format and obviously, downloading is becoming all the rage and so, what I have seen happen in the last year or two there is a shift at the studios. It’s not just a shift in the thinking, but literally, like a lot of the people, a lot of the senior executives who were in charge of building DVD and Blu-ray, physical media, have kind of moved on. And the people who have replaced them, they are business degree folks, they are marketing degree folks, but they’re not necessarily movie fans, so they are not connected to the product.

Those folks seem to think that downloading is going to be the future, downloading is the way to go, everything so go downloading, and they are pushing that. What happens is, though, they’ve started basically shifting their thinking in that direction, so they are spending less on special editions. Rather than doing really in depth content, they are settling for the typical EPK, you know, featurettes and that kind of thing. What’s worse, in terms of marketing, they have begun to shift their marketing efforts from physical media to streaming. So what they’re trying to do, is they are trying to give people a reason to go and you know, start streaming this content. In the case of Star Trek, what they did was they actually took – I think there is 100 minutes of special features that were produced for the Blu-ray. 100 Minutes of documentary special features and an audio commentary on top of that. So what they did is that they took more than half of that content and scattered it as retail exclusives.

Now, one of the reasons they are doing that is because they are trying to keep retailers happy because retailers are using less and less of their shelf space in stores for physical media. So, you now, you want to get prominent placement in the limited shelf space that’s available at retail, so they are doing these little perks where like, if you buy the Blu-ray at Best Buy, say, you get an exclusive featurette on the disc or an exclusive bonus disc. In the case of streaming what they’ve done is that they have actually took the commentary track that Bad Robot produced with JJ ABRAMS and the cast and crew and they put it ONLY on the iTunes download as an iTunes Extra Download. So the unfortunate thing is that if you’re a regular Blu-ray consumer of a collector or a Star Trek fan, even if you buy the premium SKU, the premium version of that Blu-ray, that film on Blu-ray, you’re only getting half the extras, and you’re not getting the audio commentary.

And, you know, look, this kind of thing has been happening for a while, the sort of bonus discs and the exclusive featurettes. That’s been happening for a while, but this is the first time I can recall that they have taken so much content, especially audio commentary, and made it not on the physical disc. To me, not only is that a problem, but it’s especially a problem with this title because Star Trek fans are notorious for wanting everything, they want all the content, they want value. Especially when you compare it to the 2009 film, which was loaded, it was a 3 disc set loaded with all kinds of extras.

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AM: An outstanding  3-disc set.

BH: Oh yeah, it was fantastic and then you also look at what’s coming out right now in terms of Star Trek Blu-ray product, which is the CBS TV show Blu-ray sets. Those are loaded with extras, I mean like LOADED with extras. So for example, Enterprise Season 2 is a show that nobody cared about at the time that it was on the air. It’s coming out on Blu-ray and has 10 hours… some crazy amount of extras. Way more than what’s on the Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray, which of course is a $350 million blockbuster feature film. So you look at those things and there’s just something wrong with this picture. The thing of it is for me, when I do a rant on The Bits, if I get worked up about something, it takes a lot to get me worked up about something. I know from past history that if I get worked up about something, I’m onto something where lots of other people are going to get way more worked up about it than I am.

Sure enough, when I posted that review of the disc and the column specifically addressing this problem on the web site, the web site almost shut down it got so much traffic. This story went viral. It was on Blastr, the Syfy Channel site, JoBlo, HDreport, Ain’t It Cool News, Bleeding Cool, io9, TrekToday, it went everywhere. So clearly, I tapped into a frustration that a lot of Blu-ray fans are having, but Star Trek fans, movie fans, this is just a problem. People still want physical media. When you’re basically giving people reasons NOT to buy your Blu-ray disc, then there’s a problem to me.

AM: Absolutely and as you said earlier, this has been going on for a little while having various retailer exclusives…

BH: Yeah…

AM: …but most of those are throwaway. You know, they’re a 5 minute extra featurette on something. I remember years ago when ANCHORMAN first came out, they put out the alleged sequel, WAKE UP RON BURGANDY, which was basically 50 minutes of average deleted scenes horribly edited together to form a “sequel”.

BH: Right, exactly.

AM: That was a Best Buy exclusive. Most of these things aren’t worth going out of your way for.

BH: Sometimes these retailer exclusives are kind of cool. Sometimes it’s like exclusive steelbook packaging or like an action figure or a statuette or a little prop replica, some kind of a swag item.

AM: But now every store, Bill, is doing their own package almost. Just this one release alone: Best Buy has the dark sleeve that says STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS with the CinemaNow features, Target has their own cover with their special features, there’s the Amazon SKU that has the phaser with it…

BH: The phaser prop…

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AM: Right, it’s non-stop.

BH: And it’s more complicated even that that! If you buy the Best Buy disc here in the U.S., it’s exclusive packaging plus you get extras via CinemaNow. If you buy the same thing in Canada, you actually get those extras on a Blu-ray bonus disc. At Target, Target is the one that drives me the most crazy. If you look at the regular Blu-ray SKU, the 2D version is on a Blu-ray disc and about 40 minutes of extras are on the same Blu-ray disc. If you buy the Target version, the 2D movie is on its OWN Blu-ray disc all by itself and all of those extras, that 40 minutes of extras are on a Blu-ray bonus disc with 30 additional minutes of bonus features that you can only get at Target. So the bonus disc has 70 minutes of content and the Blu-ray is on its own disc, so picture and sound get more room to breathe in terms of data rate.

AM: Now there was talk as well, I don’t know if you read the Trekcore.com write up, Aaron Nadler over there wrote two really nice, very full-length reviews about all the different extras from all the stores as well as a full-length one about the commentary

BH: Yeah…

AM: His point on the commentary was that he assumed because of what it is, you know, it’s a telestrated, not just an audio commentary track, it’s a full-blown appears to be separate encode of the movie that was some type of Bad Robot copy. It looks like the IMAX copy with the variable aspect ratios and everything, with all these telestrations on it. They rewind and pause the movie and it’s even longer than the actual film. He was speculating that there was no way this thing was going on the disc [correction: with the movie], so it may have necessitated a second disc even within the set.

BH: Well the thing of it is, with Blu-ray, you can actually author it with BD-JAVA, you can actually author it in such a way, like Warner Brothers was done this, where you do the audio commentary as sort of a picture-in-picture and the player can actually stop. In other words, while the commentary continues to play, the player can be programmed to freeze the video so the director can keep talking, so you can actually do that on Blu-ray. There’s no reason they couldn’t have done it on Blu-ray.

AM: It appears what they did was they recorded them doing this and put out the file, that’s why it’s 5GB by itself.

BH: Right and what I think happened is, what I have learned anyway, is that ITunes wanted some kind of exclusive and Bad Robot produced most of the extras. My understanding is Bad Robot produced most of the extras and it was actually Bad Robot that provided that to ITunes for use in that respect. Now, of course, they could have done the exact same thing on Blu-ray had they worked with Paramount, that could have been a really elaborate sort of picture-in-picture style commentary. In other words, like a viewing mode where the director could have come out and talked about it. We’ve seen Warner Brothers do that kind of thing before.

AM: Bad Robot, up front before this came out, when they were shooting the movie, I remember reading they said, “We’re taking extra care. We’re shooting all these extras in hi-def with a great camera. We’re really documenting the production for inevitable Blu-ray”, and as we’re talking about tonight, never came to be.

BH: And the frustrating thing is now, what’s going to have to happen is, and what will probably happen, I don’t think this was originally the plan. I don’t think there was a double-dip in mind here. I think Paramount and the marketing folks at Paramount thought this disc would satisfy people, especially when you consider there’s the 3D Combo SKU – that is 3D/2D/DVD. Usually, that’s the one that has all the extras. They certainly had time to put all that together. I don’t think they were planning a double-dip, but see now, what’s going to have to happen is because they’ve pissed off so many fans, they’ve probably going to revisit the title and actually do a true special edition on Blu-ray. But now, all the fans are going to go, “Ah see, you screwed us. They were going to double dip us all along.” I honestly don’t think there was a plan to do that. I really think a lot of the marketing people at Paramount just didn’t have any idea that people wouldn’t be thrilled with this release. I think they were thinking this was going to be super-deluxe, super-special, and people are going to love it. I don’t think they had any clue.

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AM: You’re starting to see that now and that kind of transitions to my next topic that I wanted to talk to you about and that’s bonus features on the discs. I got into DVD after DIVX and all that, when DVD was standardized, so I’ve been through all the amazing special editions that have been done over the years, all the Van Ling discs and the Charlie De Lauzirikia discs.

BH: Yeah…

AM: … all those are major special edition pieces. Like when the ALIEN ANTHOLOGY came out and the LORD OF THE RINGS EXTENDEDS, amazing discs!

BH: Hours and hours and hours of content…

AM: And every so often you’d get a movie, I can’t even think of one off the top of my head, but just some regular ol’ movie that you still get an hour worth of special features on, some romantic comedy or something. It was important for everything to have that extra dimension; I think that was part of DVD’s character. Now that you have all this extra space on Blu-ray discs, obviously the movie is better and the audio is better, but you have space. I think there is still a demand for that at least in “our” market, basically being the enthusiast market. Why do you think things have transitioned away from regular consumers demanding this stuff as well as studios, like DISNEY who acquired all the Marvel stuff from Paramount… look at the tremendous lack of special features on something like THE AVENGERS, one of the biggest movies of all-time and you get twenty minutes of features and some stuff on a second screen experience that most people can’t even utilize. So why do you think more regular people aren’t looking for this stuff and why do you think studios are transitioning away from this stuff?

BH: I think consumers, especially collectors and movie fans, are looking for that content. They do want that content, but the thing of it is, they are not getting it and so what they are doing is they’re choosing by not buying those discs. You are seeing physical media sales of catalog titles are declining. The new films on Blu-ray are selling gangbusters, but catalog titles are kind of declining because I think what’s happening is more and more people are saying, “Listen, I probably already bought this title once or twice before. If I am going to buy it again and I WILL buy it again, but if I’m going to, I have to get value.” I think that’s the problem and the studios haven’t made that connection yet. The studios are not delivering that kind of value.

The thing of it is, they are all focused on, the major Hollywood studios are all sort of focused on downloading. The future is all going to be downloading. The future is all going to be streaming, but now what a lot of the little independent companies, SHOUT FACTORY, SCREAM FACTORY, CRITERION. What a lot of those folks have realized is, “No, no. There’s still a niche market, bigger than a niche of really avid fans of these films and consumers and Blu-ray collectors and movie fans that really wants to buy physical media, but they want to get value. They want real value for their money. They want special features. They want all that.” They are making a very nice business doing that, but the studios are all thinking about downloading.

The ironic thing, what they don’t realize, what I am constantly surprised by, I don’t think they realize is streaming is not going to replace sales for a long time. Physical media is still going to be around for I think another decade or two at least. What’s happening is streaming is replacing the rental market. It used to be there was a market where you’d go to the local video store, you’d go to Blockbuster, you’d go to Hollywood Video, and you’d rent movies like that. Well, streaming is replacing that market.

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AM: You see NETFLIX even begin to transition away from their emphasis on the discs in the mail model.

BH: Yeah, but the thing of it is, streaming is NOT replacing sales. There are some sales on streaming, of streaming content, but it’s not by any stretch replacing physical media sales and the problem is it’s never going to. That’s what the studios don’t realize. I think they think that if they, “hey, if we make it special and we make it cool, then everybody will move away from physical media to that,” but that is not going to happen. The simple fact of the matter is if you have to download, let’s say the same movie, a Blu-ray special edition and a streaming version. You are never going to be able to charge $39.99 or $29.99 for a stream or for a download version whereas you can charge that for a physical disc. Just because of that fact alone, it’s not going to take up that market share that physical media had.

So, what I suspect is going to happen is I think there is going to be a gradual realization over the next five to ten years or so that, “Wow! Streaming isn’t really… There’s still a market for physical media. If we play our cards right, we can sell physical product to consumers.” The thing you have to remember is, there are now 60 million Blu-ray capable devices just in the United States along. There are more than 120 million DVD. Basically, every household in America that has a television set almost has a DVD player. There are just a huge number. That is a massive potential audience for your product. All you have to do is give people a reason to buy. The way you do that in my opinion is give them value, give them value.

AM: You look at those homes like you just said, the 60 million and the 120 million, of all those people, look at how many of those don’t even have a streaming set up. They might have a Netflix capable television or something like that, but if you say, “did you redeem your Ultraviolet copy?” They have no idea what you are talking about!

BH: Yeah and there’s a core group of folks that like Ultraviolet. I don’t use Ultraviolet, I could care less! If I want to watch a movie, I am going to sit in front of a nice system in a nice home theater and that’s how I want to consume. Now I get the occasional watching a movie when you’re out and about or your travelling or watching it on your tablet, I get that, but for me by and large, if I want to watch a movie, I want a good theater-like experience and you can’t get that from a little portable device or a cell phone. I think that’s going to continue to be the case. Hollywood is trying to do, like you talked about, the Google Glass, the second screen and all that kind of stuff. Hollywood is focused on a lot of that, but the problem is, my fundamental thing is movie watching, TV watching is still fundamentally a linear experience. As an audience member, I want to sit back, watch, and be told a story. It’s the same thing; it goes back to campfire days with ancient humans. You’d sit there while somebody told you a story. That’s part of the satisfaction of that process. I don’t know, second screen can be cool and there are some interesting ways you can take advantage of that, but I think fundamentally, people want to watch a movie. They want to sit back, relax, and enjoy. So, all the interactive bells and whistles that all this money gets spent on, it’s kind of a waste of money in my opinion.

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AM: Right and especially where, as you said, people want to maintain that experience. I was having this discussion with a friend of mine when I told him I was talking with you. He was telling me about an experience he had buying some movies off iTunes and I said, “Why are you buying them off ITunes? You can buy that Blu-ray set on sale and get it for $20! You have the discs and it’s lossless audio…” And he goes, “Yeah, but I want the convenience of having it in the cloud so I can bring it wherever I go!” but then he didn’t realize, of course, that the particular movie he was buying wasn’t licensed for the cloud and so on and so forth. I said, “See, you should have just bought the disc.” This is someone who is an audiophile and he says, “I can absolutely hear the difference in terms of sound qualities on streaming as well…” versus Blu-ray. Blu-ray is where lossless sound, that’s the whole point. People do care about quality.

BH: They do. The thing about the cloud, the thing about streaming is… Look, in this country, it’s a little bit different around the world, but in this country we still don’t have great internet speeds. There’s still a battle going on in terms of, “Ok, if you’re renting from Netflix, who’s going to pay for that bandwidth?” Is Netflix going to pay for that? Is the cable company going to pay for that? Are they going to pass that cost onto you? There’s still all those issues happening and the bottom line is content in the cloud is in the cloud and if you don’t have access to the cloud, your content, you can’t get your content. It’s an even bigger problem with downloads and things like that because how many files, how many pieces of music, how many documents have you created in your life, or digital photos that you had on a hard drive and the hard drive crashed and suddenly that content is gone? If you’ve got the disc, you’ve still got the content.

AM: Right, there is still always a value. I always tell people, call me old fashioned, but I want to have my STUFF. I want to have my movies. The music, I think, digital and streaming and downloading has saved the music business because the bulk of music consumers, I may be wrong, but I think the bulk of music consumers care more about convenience than they do about the quality. You have to people that hang on to their vinyl and say, “Vinyl is where it’s at. This whole MP3 is just, it’s crap.” Most people are perfectly content downloading their song for $1.29 from iTunes and that’s the end of the day.

BH: Some of that is simply because the consumption music, generally, is something we do while we do other things. So we’re on the go and in that sense then, having music on your desktop, having music on your phone, having music streamed to wherever you are, that makes sense, but movies are different.

AM: Right, it’s a totally different experience and the movie consumer I think still really cares about what it looks like and what it sounds like and how you consume it. I really do.

BH: Yeah and it’s funny because if you look at digital and you know digital is also transforming publishing too. I have a Kindle, I love books, I read all the time. I was skeptical about e-books, but I bought a Kindle and I love it. I have the Kindle Paperwhite and it feels like you are reading a book, but the nice thing about that it’s like the convenience of like having all your music in an iPod. You can take it with you wherever you go, it’s easier. It’s just a nice experience, but the ironic thing about it is, I’ve actually bought more physical books since I’ve started using a Kindle because now what I’m doing is anything that might be like a quick paperback read, I’ll download via iTunes and read on my Kindle, but I’m actually buying more nice coffee table books and art books. I’m collecting Hermes and Titan are publishing the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers newspaper strips, nice big art books, you know? I’m buying more of those than I have in a long time. It’s the same thing as when Napster was huge. I think I bought more physical music those years that Napster was big because you were able to try music for free and if you liked it, you went and bought the CD.

It’s funny, but movies are just a different sort of thing. The kinds of things that people are downloading and there’s like the Hollywood talks about torrenting and piracy. The kinds of things that people are downloading on those sorts of things, it’s primarily content that they don’t have access to conveniently. It’s movies that aren’t available here in the US, it’s TV shows that get released in the UK, but not here until six months later. People want the convenience; they want it when they want it. I do think the movie experience is fundamentally still something that you sit in a nice dark space and there’s still something to that. There’s still something to the quality that just isn’t going to get replaced digitally.

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AM: So, I guess, do you have any further information from Paramount of anything? Has anybody contacted you? I imagine you must have heard from somebody about your post.

BH: (laughs) Yeah, I’ve talked with them a little bit and I can’t go into too much. Some of it was off the record. I can say that they definitely were surprised. I don’t think they expected the response; they were very surprised by the response. I think they realize that they’ve got a problem. I think they realize they’ve pissed off consumers, that they may have misjudged some of their thinking on this stuff. I think you will see, I think they are going to shift perspective. I don’t’ think you are going to see quite so much of the exclusive giveaways of content. I think you will see a little bit more focus on special editions. I’m specifically hoping that they are going to come back to this title and revisit it. I would love to see them release a true special edition of this movie and give anybody who bought the previous discs a HUGE discount on it. $10 off, $15 off, something like that.

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AM: Well, you remember the Lord of the Rings movies did that the first time around. They had the rebate for every one of them when you bought the Extended Edition. Again, it’s kind of a reward, and then I think it was a “thanks for buying the first one and now we’ll give you a deal on the second one” but this as you said, should be more of a recovery model.

BH: The smart thing that Warner Brothers and New Line did with the Lord of the Rings was, they said, “listen, we don’t have time to create a super elaborate special edition so we’re going to have a basic version first, but if you’re patient and you wait a year or six months or whatever and then you will get, trust me, there’s a really elaborate version coming.” They let people know in advance so people could make an informed decision. In this case, I don’t think there was initially an attempt to double dip, they just didn’t even realize.

Part of the problem is—and I talked about it earlier—is that a lot of the executives at the studios who really truly built home video on DVD and Blu-ray have left. Those people understood the format. They understood what it meant to put value on there. They knew what consumers wanted, fans wanted. They were in touch with the fans. They knew what that audience demanded, but a lot of those people have left and so a lot of the people who are there now are right out of business school, right out of marketing school, and the bigger problem is that they are fundamentally not consumers of their own content. They might watch a Blu-ray movie now and again, but they are not a die-hard avid fan of movies, home theater. They are not an AV enthusiast; they are not a super Star Trek fan. They just don’t understand that audience in a way the industry used to get it. There are still a few people here and there that get it at the studios, but most of those people are gone and so the people that are there now don’t really have any connection with their own consumers and that’s a problem. I think this is really a symptom of that larger problem which is they just don’t get it anymore.

AM: Hopefully, this is a situation as you said that will hopefully get people to GET IT and maybe change direction, not just for this release and for others coming out in the future.

BH: I think so. I’ve been told that they’ve got the message and I’m continuing to talk with them, so I’m hoping to see some real action and that they’re going to take some serious action and I’m hoping that Paramount is going to make some efforts to appease the Star Trek fans and the Blu-ray fans that they really upset with this release somehow. I’m trying to kind of talk with them about what those options might be. Let’s hope. The bottom line is that physical media is still huge and I’ve always said that if you please the diehard fan of this stuff first, if you work hard to please those folks, everybody else is just gravy.

AM: We become advocates for the product. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said to buy this edition or check out this director’s cut or these extras. We become advocates for the product.

BH:  Yeah and I think the important thing is that people do advocate for the product. That’s something that we’ve always tried to do, but it really is a communication process where you have to let them know what you want and you have to kind of hold your feet to the fire. Hollywood is an interesting industry because in every other industry that deals with products, manufacturing, the companies just bend over backwards to try to find out what their consumers want and then deliver it to them. The movie industry doesn’t work that way. The movie industry, there’s ego and there’s money and there’s all this other stuff. The movie industry thinking is, “we’re going to make the product we going to make and you’re going to buy it.” So you really have to hold their feet to the fire and say, “No, this is the kind of product we want and this is what we want you to deliver to us or we won’t buy it.” You really have to hold their feet to the fire. A lot of the studios don’t even have web sites or email addresses where you can give consumer feedback. They might have a Facebook page, but it’s for them to market at you, not for you to give feedback. They really have done everything in their power to keep that feedback from coming. It turns out that process is critical. Fans of this stuff have got to let the studios know what you want because if you don’t, this kind of thing will keep happening.

AM: That’s the truth.

(Bill shares his geeky recommendations with me here, including his love for PACIFIC RIM and ZATOICHI. Listen to the podcast to hear them!)

AM: So Bill, where can people find you?

BH: You can find us at the Thedigitalbits.com and I’m on Facebook, the Digital Bits has a Facebook. People are always welcome to come over.

AM: Everybody make sure you do that. It’s great site, well worth your time and thanks, Bill, for joining us and we hope to have you back again in the future.

BH: Thanks, Adam, I’d love to do it.


About the Author

Adam Moreau
Adam Moreau

Adam Moreau is a television advertising salesman by day and a geek by night (some would argue he's still a geek during the day). Growing up, he developed his love for film through trips to the movies, his local video store, hours of HBO, and further viewings of horrible copies of those same video store movies. These days, he watches more movies and TV than he has time for. In fact, he's probably watching something right now. He is married, has two kids, and is raising them in the ways of the Force.