UK Releases/Information Anyone?

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UK Releases/Information Anyone?

Post by Uncle Scooby » December 1st, 2008, 7:02 am

Hi to everybody in the forum.
I am a first time poster, but have been an animation fan as long as I can remember! Classic 'toons being my favorite(WB/Fleischer/Disney et al.) which brings me to my question.

I am assuming that this has probably been broached on here before but there are very few releases of the quality R1 DVD's that seem to make it into R2 territories (Blu-Ray will probably carry this trend on). :cry:

I am mainly thinking of the brilliant looking releases of the Popeye boxsets & the library of Walt Disney Treasures plus a few others. Does anyone know if these (and others) are planned for release or where I can start looking to find out? A comprehensive list would be great! :)

I own R2 DVD & Blu-Ray players already so I don't really want to purchase another multi-region player.
I have looked around many websites already & found loads of great information on various DVD's but they are all US based & therefore only cover R1 (naturally).
This has only served to whet my appetite further & leave me extremely frustrated!!! :x

My thanks in advance to anyone who can help me with this....

P.S. I'm looking forward to Sleeping Beauty on BD when I get home on Wednesday! :D

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Post by Ben » December 1st, 2008, 8:21 am

Hiya Uncle Scoob, and welcome to our itty bitty corner of the web. :)

I'm afraid you're looking at picking up a multi-region player if you want to enjoy all those goodies, but it's not as bad as it seems.

Although I co-founded this site and write with an American slant, I am also UK based...but learned a loooooong time ago that what was put out here is essentially "fake" versions of the real stuff.

People can say what they like about NTSC ("never the same color" and all that) but the truth is that, because of the way NTSC transfers film to video you get a much better film representation than you do with the UK's PAL system. NTSC, through its tricks, retains the 24fps speed of film, meaning that what you see is going to be representative of the original. With PAL, the different electricity we have here means different refresh rates on our screens, so we run at 25fps.

That difference is actually preeeeety big: we ostensibly "lose" a frame each second, making it a "loss" of two minutes for every hour. This isn't really "dropping" material out...it just plays faster, but it has an affect of speeding up the editing, dialogue and music. This is very slight and most people are not susceptible to it, but I am and it drives me nuts! Try synching up a CD soundtrack to a PAL video or LaserDisc...it'll never work, because not only do we run to a higher speed here, but that speed shift has an affect on the musical pitch, knocking it up by one key.

Thus is why, when LaserDiscs became available to import into the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I started collecting...not only for the right speed and pitch, but for the many extras that were included that never saw the light of day on VHS or LD in the UK. So collecting from the States was pretty ingrained to me early on.

By the time DVD came along in 1997, the format hadn't really caught on here and the amount of titles was still low. Knowing I wanted to safeguard my LD collection and start moving onto DVDs, I bought a combi-player and made sure it was multi-region at the same time...I was already buying LDs from my importer, so picking up DVDs at the same place made sense! I can't tell you how many times I said to friends not to bother with just a R2 player...that they would regret it, but they still went ahead, thinking that anything else was "breaking the law".

Well...it isn't. Just as in the LD days, importing titles is perfectly legal for personal use. If it was against the law, the shops selling multi-region players would be shut down! Amazon wouldn't advertise how to make a player multi-region, would they!? So now I have thousands of R1 DVDs and none of my friends can borrow them, even though I'm willing to lend!

Anyway...moving on...it soon became clear that a lot of the stuff I have an interest in could be called "niche" at best. This stuff doesn't even sell that much in America, and the common wisdom is that the real international hard core fans that want this stuff will find a way to get it from the States. So most of their sales, for the UK for instance, have already happened. You won't see a Popeye set here, for example, because considering the size of demand for that kind of thing here, there just isn't the market. Those of us who want that stuff are already canny enough to go multi-region early on and bring it in.

Again, this isn't illegal, and the Studios know about this and support it. When one of the Popeye discs needed replacing, international audiences were able to phone up the US number and get a disc sent out direct to their addresses. I've been able to replace Superman, True Life Adventures, Walt Disney Treasures and other discs this way without any hassle whatsoever. (BTW, there <I>are</I> some Walt Disney Treasures released here, but the low sales proved people had already bought in, and there are no plans to continue the series in the UK.)

Another reason we don't always get the better content is copyright...most of the time the Studios only have jurisdiction for their content in the US (still being aware that many of their sales go outside the country). That's why there are occasionally two different versions of Special Editions available in different countries (the RKO library being an example: in the US, Warners have put out great sets for Kong and Kane, whereas those titles have different extras on the Universal discs put out in the UK).

Blu-ray is <I>slightly</I> different...the HD format means that running times should now be the same (both US and international discs all running to the equivalent of 24fps film speed). That's why Kung Fu Panda is 88 minutes on PAL DVD in the UK, but runs to the correct 92 minutes on film, on BD in the States, and on BD in the UK. So in the most part you'll not notice much of a difference between US and UK Blu discs. Sleeping Beauty, I believe, has the same features as the US disc, save for the BD Live applications that are only available in the US (again due to the niche market...it's not worth rolling out here yet for the 30 or so people that might use it).

In BD terms, I'm still going to be buying American...I write for this site and we receive US screeners for one thing, but I also prefer the not as cluttered packaging. Price wise, things have evened out a bit (and not just because of the credit crunch) but there's still a bit of an advantage in importing over paying the high prices they charge in the UK. Basically, however, if you want to enjoy the better aspects of DVD and/or BD, the only choice is to go multi-region.

The good news is...you may already have a multi-region DVD player. Check around for your model and it could be that there's a code you can input to "unlock" the player to accept any disc. It may not work, but worth a try. If not, then you can pick up a multi-region player for well under £50. I bought a secondary player for dragging around with me for £25 from Amazon UK and while the quality isn't as top-notch as my dedicated Pioneers, it plays anything you chuck at it. The other option is a PC drive, of course, which may not be the best solution but will allow you to view these things.

Might not be the news you wanted to hear, but it't the only way to go. As I kept and keep telling my friends, being locked to one region (especially the UK) is not the way to go!!

Hope that helps! :)

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Post by Uncle Scooby » December 2nd, 2008, 12:18 am

Thanks for the prompt & concise reply Ben - much appreciated! :)

I think you are right (and to be honest, probably was resigned to the fact myself) that I am going to have to go multi-region...
I have already been scouring the net for unlock codes/remotes for my player. I do not want to buy another player for space reasons & the fact that a quality player is all so important to me (being a bit of a home AV geek) & already having a high end player do not want another costly piece of kit.

I do have another question though. Do you (or anyone else for that matter) know exactly what titles Disney released in their Treasures collection for the UK market (especially the tin box versions)?

I currently have Silly Symphonies; Mickey in Living Colour & Chronological Donald vol. 1. I am aware that Mickey in Living Colour vol. 2 is out there but unsure of any others?

So to finish; I will be fixing my R2 problem one way or another & will hopefully soon be enjoying the delights our American cousins have had for so long, that the British have been so sorely missing. :cry:

Congratulations on the excellent site & keep up the good work!!! :D

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Post by Ben » December 2nd, 2008, 9:06 am

As far as I know, those were the only titles released in the UK Treasures line, and I didn't actually realise they even came in tins. Wait...I do, but they're not as sturdy as the US tins and the cover art isn't as classy.

You'd have thought that they would have been the bigger sellers but many people had already imported their discs so sales of these were low, despite them not being limited (another reason why the US versions are more collectible).


Thanks for the kind words on the site...we do out best! :)

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