PAL vs. NTSC in the marketplace

Discuss North American DVDs and Blu-rays or other DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
GringoTex
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am

#1 Post by GringoTex » Mon Jun 13, 2005 4:30 pm

peerpee wrote:This isn't the thread for it, but.... it's not about "regions", it's about PAL vs NTSC.

NTSC shits all over PAL in the global marketplace because the whole of Europe can play NTSC or PAL "out of the box". PAL cannot be played by 99% of Americans. End of story.

Hollywood/America have realised this and are flooding Europe with NTSC discs. In comparison, hardly any PAL discs cross the pond the other way.

There is no level-playing field, the EU don't realise what's going on, and there's effectively zero competition between NTSC and PAL because NTSC discs win everytime.

Why don't European companies release NTSC discs then? Because licensors stipulate in their contracts that European licensees must release PAL.
Can any European retailer legally sell U.S.-produced NTSC discs? ie- you can walk into a store and find a Criterion edition and MoC edition of the same movie on the shelve next to each other?

User avatar
backstreetsbackalright
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:49 pm
Location: 313

#2 Post by backstreetsbackalright » Mon Jun 13, 2005 5:42 pm

When I was in Amsterdam in March, you could find practically every kind of DVD in most stores. Criterions, R1s, Japanese imports, etc.

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#3 Post by peerpee » Mon Jun 13, 2005 5:42 pm

It would be illegal to sell a foreign DVD in the UK without bbfc classifcation, and it would also infringe the UK licensee's rights if a foreign version were being sold here for a film that a UK company has the UK rights to. UK authorities could legally remove a Criterion version from a UK brick and mortar store if it were notified.

None of this applies to online sales, and that's where this so-called "protection" (as described above) completely fails.

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#4 Post by Steven H » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:21 pm

peerpee wrote:None of this applies to online sales, and that's where this so-called "protection" (as described above) completely fails.
Isn't there an extra tax built into DVD imports to the UK? If I'm not wrong, this must be a weak deterrent. It's hard to imagine any other way of discouraging this sort of thing that wouldn't do more harm than good. Then again, when it comes to MoC, Bfi, Nouveau, and Tartan (more or less Artificial eye and Optimum UK) aren't people searching out these discs for quality concerns? Most who would go out of their way for these films online are probably aware of the differences.

User avatar
GringoTex
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am

#5 Post by GringoTex » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:35 pm

peerpee wrote:None of this applies to online sales, and that's where this so-called "protection" (as described above) completely fails.
So it's fair to say Criterion's release of The Flowers of St. Francis will take away from MoC's sales?

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#6 Post by peerpee » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:37 pm

Anything sent from outside the UK into the UK of a value greater than £18 GBP is liable to import duty. So everyone sends discs singly to avoid any charge whatesoever, and some people get stung on boxsets (if the full amount is declared on the outside of the package).

I'm of the opinion that there should be no region controls (they don't work, and CDs don't have them!) and that if you want your disc to do well in the global market then release NTSC with a good transfer and good extras.

Unfortunately there are many things preventing European companies from releasing R0 NTSC discs -- so we're stuck with the unfair system we have at the moment, where NTSC rules.

There are thousands of Americans buying European (PAL) discs each week and then realising they can't play them - at all.

Regardless of whether folk are searching out bfi, Nouveaux, Tartan, AE, Optimum, Eureka/MoC or not --- Criterion discs are flooding Europe in their thousands, and zero PAL discs are flooding the US because no-one in the US can play PAL. There is no level-playing field.
Langlois68 wrote:So it's fair to say Criterion's release of The Flowers of St. Francis will take away from MoC's sales?
It will impact severely on our internet sales here in the UK because the major UK etailers play.com and Amazon.co.uk both carry Criterions -- so searching for this film will present a UK buyer with two options (Criterion and MoC), and because of the weak dollar, the Criterion will probably be cheaper.

Most of our sales are internet based now. So the fact that we don't have Criterion's competition in the brick and mortar stores means little.

Good luck to Criterion, it's not their fault. The problem is firmly rooted in the fact that NTSC can be played "out of the box" worldwide, and PAL can only be played "out of the box" in Europe (and other smaller territories like Australia). European firms need to club together and insist on being allowed to release NTSC products, but the whole industry is hampered by pointless region rules and PAL stipulations which produce this unfair global playing field.

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#7 Post by Steven H » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:47 pm

I also suppose that corporate control of information through advertising revenue might prevent magazines and other forms of media from making it known how easy and cheap it can be to buy a DVD player that plays PAL and NTSC. Wal-Mart has them for about $40. Tell your friends.

I hope Francesco does decently for the few months its on the market solo. It makes you wonder whether announcing releases so far in advance is a good or bad thing (discouraging or inciting NTSC competition.)

kekid
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:55 pm

#8 Post by kekid » Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:12 pm

I completely agree that the region-coding system lacks any discernible purpose, and should be eliminated. Initially we were told that the system was designed to separate the theatrical release from the DVD release in different parts of the world. If this was its purpose, all old films should be released as region 0. Indeed, any re-release on DVD would justify a region 0, as this would be far removed from the theatrical release. Clearly this is not happening. This raises the question, who gets to decide when not to release a DVD with a region code of 0? If we were to inspire rationality in the decision-makers, we must make an argument that it is more profitable for the issuer to release a DVD with region 0 (and NTSC format). The language of money is more influencial with people who get to make these decisions.

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#9 Post by peerpee » Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:24 pm

Licensors are stipulating region codes and format (PAL or NTSC) to licensees dependent on their location. They believe that region encoding protects other licensees in other territories, but in practice, they're completely wrong.

However, I think the PAL / NTSC issue is much, much more important, especially with regard to the one-way traffic of DVDs leaving the US and Canada for abroad.

User avatar
ben d banana
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: Oh Where, Oh Where?

#10 Post by ben d banana » Mon Jun 13, 2005 10:28 pm

Not that this is exactly happening next week, but won't the potential format upgrade to HD-DVD/Blu-Ray eliminate the PAL/NTSC problem?

With MoC being an internationally run imprint, is it beyond possibility to team up w/ a North American company to release discs for this market as well? Obviously this would entail more elaborate licensing agreements and such, but would it also end up killing the sales of the UK Eureka versions?

Bush's weak $ is working just as he hoped, the international market simply cannot resist such good deals.

User avatar
david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#11 Post by david hare » Tue Jun 14, 2005 7:45 am

Perverse it may be of me to ever praise Warners Australia R4 but for a period a couple of years back they had taken to releasing what they obviously considered "niche (i.e. classics) titles in Australia in NTSC R4 compatible discs (examples were McCabe and Mrs Miller, The Harvey Girls and several others.) So in this small territory at least it was being done evidently through head office direction.
Unfortunately a bunch of moronic posters on the usual R4 forums howled the practice down (on the basis of the "inferiority" of NTSC pressings to PAL - another subject altogether and never seriously argued in these forums, mere opinion only.) Subsequently Warners has ceased issuing any more R4 NTSC titles in the last year.

What Nick says about Criterions flooding Europe is absolutely true. Just back from Paris where not only Criterions but R1 Warner and Fox titles are sold by the truckload from FNAC to Virgin. But the mark up is so outrageous you would have to be desperate to buy them off the shelf rather than online. In fact I could well forsee the Criterion Francesco being quite uncompetitive with the MoC.

User avatar
ltfontaine
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:34 pm

#12 Post by ltfontaine » Tue Jun 14, 2005 12:36 pm

It makes you wonder whether announcing releases so far in advance is a good or bad thing (discouraging or inciting NTSC competition.)
Perhaps Criterion had "Francesco" in production before they learned about the MoC release? The two companies will probably continue to compete under conditions that are, unfortunately, especially disadvantageous to European companies, as Nick has described, but might not this be a matter of business as usual, with companies in different regions simply releasing films on DVD as the necessary elements become available? Is there any evidence to indicate that this release by Criterion is motivated by especially predatory impulses toward MoC (apart from those that animate capitalism in general) rather than by the desire to introduce a quality title into their collection?

I'm not defending Criterion if they're doing something nasty, rather than conventionally coincidental here, but it's not clear to me that this a case of competitive skullduggery, as some posts on this topic suggest.

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#13 Post by Steven H » Tue Jun 14, 2005 5:28 pm

ltfontaine wrote:I'm not defending Criterion if they're doing something nasty, rather than conventionally coincidental here, but it's not clear to me that this a case of competitive skullduggery, as some posts on this topic suggest.
Innocent as they may be, I wonder how aware they are of market expansion into PAL arenas. It has always struck me as "odd" that when I do a search for a director on amazon.co.uk R2 and R1 titles come up. Ben's comment about the weak dollar made me shudder. Sooner than later we'll have poor cockneys laboring over R1 digipacks in dungeonlike rooms for a dollar an hour in tax free "zones".

Who will crack the whip of change, though? How long before rightsholders start working political magic to eradicate those extra duties? The gears of commerce must be oiled, right? I wonder where the strangely NTSC R0 Bfi Ghatak releases fit into this.

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#14 Post by peerpee » Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:09 am

ltfontaine, there's absolutely no beef with Criterion whatsoever -- the issue is with the flood of NTSC discs hitting Europe, and that applies to all NTSC-releasing companies outside Europe and how their discs are sold at amazon.co.uk and other etailers alongside R2 PAL releases.
I wonder where the strangely NTSC R0 Bfi Ghatak releases fit into this.
I think the bfi were simply able to take advantage (in a nice way) of a little ignorance on the part of the rightsholder.

User avatar
david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#15 Post by david hare » Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:56 am

Nick just a thought but is there any way MoC can design some sort of contractual arrangenment to release simultaneous NTSC R0 or whatever versions of new titles? Or is the conversion/transfer aspect too expensive?

Maybe talking out of my arse through hallucinatory jetlag. But it appeared to me with the open slather of non R2 non French discs on the shelves in Paris that the EU is slowly walking down the path recently recommmended by the Australian Competition authority to kill the ban on parallel imports (Still actively lobbied against by the R4 majors of course, with a compliant fuckheaded Right Wing government to do their bidding. Does this sound like the UK with the incomprehensible restrictions etc?) Thus you in the UK are stuck, like Oz currently, with an industry based toitally restrictive regime. (It's all about the majors.)
Otherwise the simple fact of life for UK and Euro manufacturers is the currency, particualrly the sterling which is wildly OTT against almost every other world currency. You should hear the yanks howling about the US dollar in Paris? (Yet they still go there?)

Btw I think it was a totally fucking appalling decision of Criterion to release Francesco, and then under the hideous American title. Not impressed kids! A thought for MoC is a Rosso/Bergman double of Europa 51 and, say Stromboli (or La Paura.) Surely Criterion can't cruel this one?

User avatar
GringoTex
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am

#16 Post by GringoTex » Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:53 am

flixyflox wrote:Btw I think it was a totally fucking appalling decision of Criterion to release Francesco, and then under the hideous American title.
Why? Theoretically, the markets are separate. Why should U.S. audiences be denied a dvd of the film because European audiences have one?

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#17 Post by peerpee » Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:28 am

I'm personally very, very glad that Criterion are releasing FRANCESCO in NTSC-land. I do disagree with "THE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS" title though.

User avatar
GringoTex
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am

#18 Post by GringoTex » Wed Jun 15, 2005 8:47 am

peerpee wrote:I'm personally very, very glad that Criterion are releasing FRANCESCO in NTSC-land. I do disagree with "THE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS" title though.
How does MoC determine whether to keep the title in the original language or not? Criterion's choice would appear particulalry bad, as it changes the meaning of the original title (I'm guessing the changed title was for the original American or British theatrical release).

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#19 Post by peerpee » Wed Jun 15, 2005 9:01 am

Pre-Criterion's DVD, what everyone knew to be "THE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS" was the distributor-mutilated US version. This is the version Scorsese saw in the early 70s, and the version that most Americans are familiar with. It replaces all the intertitles with English narration, has a non-Rossellini prologue, and is missing an entire section from near the end.

The version that MoC have released and Criterion are releasing is the original Rossellini Italian cut, released to Italian audiences in 1950. The title of this version was FRANCESCO GIULLARE DI DIO.

To call this version "THE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS" is simply to perpetuate the inelegant 1950s retitling of the US distributor -- and it can't be attributed to Criterion being shy of foreign titles, they've released TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI, LA COMMARE SECCA, A NOUS LA LIBERTE, and LE NOTTI BIANCHE (amongst many others).

It was a perfect opportunity for them to undo the US distributor's handiwork.

User avatar
ltfontaine
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:34 pm

#20 Post by ltfontaine » Wed Jun 15, 2005 9:35 am

Nick just a thought but is there any way MoC can design some sort of contractual arrangenment to release simultaneous NTSC R0 or whatever versions of new titles?
Tartan, at least, operates in both worlds, releasing titles in regions 1 and 2. Other than companies, including Criterion, that release an occasional R0, and apart from those based in Asia where, seemingly, anything goes, are there outfits in the west that market DVDs encoded in more than one region?

peerpee
not perpee
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#21 Post by peerpee » Wed Jun 15, 2005 8:26 pm

Interestingly, Warner/Rhino have just issued Brian Wilson's 2 x disc "SMILE" in the UK as NTSC (region coded 2, 3, 4, 5).

User avatar
david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#22 Post by david hare » Wed Jun 15, 2005 8:31 pm

Virtually everywhere in the world both PAL and NTSC compatible players and displays have been the norm - Asia, Japan, the Middle East, Australia Europe and slowly the UK. THe US is the only country to stick with the single format at least for low to middle end devices. Pure digital devices using DVI/HDMI bypass this anyway and the higher end displays and recent digital payers are all capable of multi system but it's basically a US/imperialist atittude that NTSC is the only system and this of course totally suits the lawyers and accountants who run the American majors. And who devised this insane region coding thing in the first place.

User avatar
ben d banana
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: Oh Where, Oh Where?

#23 Post by ben d banana » Thu Jun 16, 2005 1:49 am

North America is full of cheap DVD players that are region free and PAL compatible (check nerd-out.com, or a variety of other sites, or check the multi-region player advice on this very forum), but really, most of the people who buy/rent DVDs could care less about import DVDs or consider paying extra for them. Those that are interested have, or easily can, make the effort to do so. Certainly it's more of a secret here than other countries (multi-region NTSC/PAL players aren't on the front page of Amazon.com like they are on Amazon UK) and MoC (and the like) would be able to sell a few more copies if they could release NTSC discs. However, w/ the current $/GBP/Euro situation I imagine the price would still be a severely limiting factor. Hell, I have to pay w/ my Canadian Pesos.

As for the compatibility issues (and correct me if I'm wrong), there are more lines of resolution in a PAL signal, hence too much information for an NTSC TV.

User avatar
kieslowski_67
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2005 5:39 pm
Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland

#24 Post by kieslowski_67 » Sat Jun 18, 2005 2:57 pm

The bottom line is, for art movie fans, sticking to only region 1 NTSC release is like 'eyes wide shut'. You need to 'open your eyes'.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#25 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jun 20, 2005 5:43 am

facct wrote:why is it that most Americans aren't able to watch PAL movies (but the reverse isn't true)?
I think it is to do with regions. Region 1 being Canada/US is completely NTSC but Region 2 covers both Europe which is PAL and also Japan, which I think is NTSC, so for players to be compatible with all Region 2 discs they have to be able to play both PAL and NTSC, whereas the same need is not there for Region 1.

Personally I'm fine with both Criterion and Masters of Cinema releasing this film. They both have separate markets and instead of thinking of this as being shafted by one or other of the companies, we should see this as an opportunity to get some different extras, similar to the Onibaba disc with the interview on the Criterion and the commentary on the Masters of Cinema. I think that the main area of competition should be in the extras, then whichever version is chosen the film is the same quality - the only variation is in what else is on there (and if the viewer is only interested in seeing the film there is little difference which they get). It is a little annoying to have to consider "double dipping" but if there is enough incentive to do so then I'm sure people will think about getting both. This does not seem to be a case of 'not having done it right the first time' that I think is a major annoyance, or a case of 'milking it for all its worth' that seems to occur with some of Universal's major film releases, to name just one company, but more the schedules coinciding. The restoration was probably the catalyst and both companies both decided to start work at the same time. You know what they say about great minds!

But I'm also concerned of whether this is not just a case of sour grapes? If the Criterion came out just before Masters of Cinema (and I think it is just a pure coincidence that both were working on the same thing and so it would also just be a matter of chance which one came out before the other), would there have been the same amount of invective thrown against MoC?
peerpee wrote:To call this version "THE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS" is simply to perpetuate the inelegant 1950s retitling of the US distributor -- and it can't be attributed to Criterion being shy of foreign titles, they've released TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI, LA COMMARE SECCA, A NOUS LA LIBERTE, and LE NOTTI BIANCHE (amongst many others).

It was a perfect opportunity for them to undo the US distributor's handiwork.
I'd agree with that, there seems to be a strange logic behind the title choices - perhaps something to do with the individual attitudes of the producers of each disc. I'm not that fond of the english title of CHILDREN OF PARADISE myself (losing the nuance of 'Children of the Gods'). It must be very difficult to choose the title that might be correct but unwieldy, or one which is wrong or poorly chosen (perhaps like GRAND ILLUSION) but which is the one that the film is more commonly known under in that territory through previous releases.

With the Francesco, giullare di Dio disc, it was very interesting to see the consultation over the title held on this group. It shows how difficult the balance between art and commerce can be even in this simple matter.

Post Reply