Is boutique publishing the future of 4K physical media? - AVF Movies Podcast Discussion Thread

Best Boutique 4K and Blu Ray Distributor

  • Arrow

    Votes: 11 78.6%
  • Indicator

    Votes: 5 35.7%
  • BFI

    Votes: 3 21.4%
  • Criterion

    Votes: 4 28.6%
  • 88 Films

    Votes: 4 28.6%
  • Eureka

    Votes: 5 35.7%
  • Shout / Scream Factory

    Votes: 3 21.4%
  • Second Sight

    Votes: 4 28.6%
  • Other

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • Dazzler

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 101 Films

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • Signature

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    14

Tom Davies

Editorial Contributor
Hello, fellow collectors of shiny shiny discs,

The next Movies Podcast hosted by me, @Mark Costello and @Simon Crust will be livestreaming on our YouTube channel on Wednesday 1st September 2021 at 7:30pm

This time around we're having thoughts about the rise of the smaller boutique labels releasing 4K and specialist content and evaluating what sort of a job they're doing, both in bringing forgotten classics (and trash best left forgotten) back to an avid fanbase and how their restoration techniques and extras game holds up against the big studio releases.

The most interesting responses will be discussed on the podcast!
So here are some questions to get you thinking:

- Is there a particular label that you think is doing particularly good work on this front? What are their best examples of movies released?

- Are these boutique labels overly concerned with physical extras - do you read the essay books? Display the art cards? Hang the poster with big creases through it?

- What cult movie would you like to see get the boutique treatment in future?

Let us know your thoughts by typing them out and posting them in this forum thread.

Thanks, I love you, bye!
 

bruce-leroy

Distinguished Member
Hello, fellow collectors of shiny shiny discs,

The next Movies Podcast hosted by me, @Mark Costello and @Simon Crust will be livestreaming on our YouTube channel on Wednesday 1st September 2021 at 7:30pm

This time around we're having thoughts about the rise of the smaller boutique labels releasing 4K and specialist content and evaluating what sort of a job they're doing, both in bringing forgotten classics (and trash best left forgotten) back to an avid fanbase and how their restoration techniques and extras game holds up against the big studio releases.

The most interesting responses will be discussed on the podcast!
So here are some questions to get you thinking:

- Is there a particular label that you think is doing particularly good work on this front? What are their best examples of movies released?

- Are these boutique labels overly concerned with physical extras - do you read the essay books? Display the art cards? Hang the poster with big creases through it?

- What cult movie would you like to see get the boutique treatment in future?

Let us know your thoughts by typing them out and posting them in this forum thread.

Thanks, I love you, bye!

From the perspective of someone who loves Hong Kong/Far East/Asian cinema, I’d say that Arrow, 88 Films and Eureka are doing a grand job in bringing a plethora of classics to the UK/European market. Some of the best examples? Hard to choose just one so:

  • Arrow for their Japanese and Korean titles
  • 88 Films and Eureka for releasing most (if not all) that is worth releasing from Jackie Chan’s most productive 80s/90s period. Armour of God coming soon too!

I think the aforementioned labels generally charge a reasonable price for the work they are doing in terms of restoration and extras. Eureka normally produce a nice little booklet to go with the disc but most of the content is where it should be - on the disc. The physical extras that some of the other boutique labels (such as Studio Canal am I right in thinking?) are a nice add on but they’re not worth the premium attached to it. I will make an exception if it’s a film that I particularly love such as True Romance LE steelbook but I won’t buy all and sundry for the sake of having the LE.

I’m aware there seems to be issues over rights (not sure if ever likely to be resolved?) but John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow is crying out for a fancy release. I’d love a nice restoration of that and there is plenty of scope for a retrospective piece since it heralded the heroic bloodshed subgenre, kickstarted John Woo as a force in action cinema and showed that Hong Kong could do so much more than kung fu movies. Also, whilst Eureka recently released Ringo Lam’s Wild Search, they need to pull their finger out and do Full Contact! Some of Sammo’s (non Jackie Chan) best films of the mid eighties have been put out - Eastern Condors and Millionaire’s Express - and Pedicab Driver would be a great addition (rights issues again is it?). Apart from the Once Upon a Time in China series, there are loads of other Jet Li films which could/should get the treatment. Off the top of my head:

- Fist of Legend (possibly superior to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury)

- Bodyguard From Beijing (excellent HK remake of The Bodyguard and one of Corey Yuen’s best movies)

- High Risk (hilarious action comedy parody of Die Hard with Jackie Cheung doing the most hilarious impression of Bruce Lee ever!)

Other Hong Kong films I’d be interested in (but perhaps lesser known) is Benny Chan’s A Moment of Romance - the film that turned Andy Lau into HK’s answer to Tom Cruise - and Big Bullet. The latter is a great cops and robbers caper and the shootouts are Heat-esque.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
It's unwise to make direct parallels to the world of vinyl reissue because there are critical structural differences to the two formats. Nevertheless, I think there are some lessons that can probably be drawn from twenty years of boutique vinyl.

- Are these boutique labels overly concerned with physical extras - do you read the essay books? Display the art cards? Hang the poster with big creases through it?

The market is probably large enough to support both the 'All effort on the film' and the 'I want to see the original Uzbek trailer' groups. With vinyl, I want the album in a (nice preferably) sleeve. That's it. I absolutely won't spring for extras no matter how much effort went into them. Plenty of people feel differently though. I think the 4k Disc providers would be foolish not to offer a bare bones disc alongside the all the trimmings one although I suspect at this relatively early stage they will be more cautious about multiple skus.

The other thing is- with film and music- there are extras and there are extras. I recently bought, yet another bloody copy of Peter Gabriel's So because it came with his previously unreleased Athens '87 gig- that was worth it for me. When I compare this to the efforts of Pink Floyd, the undisputed kings of grift, I'm not paying through the nose for 2% new material (although again, people- including our own @Steve Withers- do). If these small studios feel that extras are the enticement, they need to be very good extras.

Something else that is going to matter hugely is the ability of these boutique studios to get desirable content out of licensing hell. There will be films that look like a license to print money that will remain unobtanium while suits argue over rights and licenses. There's a potential chicken/egg situation where the rights holders will want to see proof of ROI before releasing something... but that ROI data is being accrued from less desirable content.

Also of massive importance is the actual production quality of the releases and the labels' ability to handle a QC failure. With limited quantity batch runs, there is the danger that, in the event of a significant quantity of discs having an issue, the means of the label to issue replacements will be limited. Vinyl releases often have an 'overbuild' in them (where, a quantity are held back from sale until any issues are known and sold later on if there aren't) but that adds cost and- if the original release is fine but sells slowly, just gives you more to sell.

Finally, it will be interesting to see if this is the future of physical video media or a phase- and a phase with two possible endings. The first 'happy' ending is that major studios see these boutique labels making a fortune and- with the same absolute lack of shame that record labels have shown- return to offering their own content, opening up a degree of wider marker penetration.

The less happy ending is that- almost regardless of the success of media sales- the critical demand for the hardware dips below the cost effective point of making it. As I've said a few times on various threads. vinyl survived because, even at its most 'dead,' the hardware could be made in small amounts by competent engineers in a light industrial unit. This does not apply to optical media. If demand falls beyond a certain point, is simply isn't practical to keep making it. This is a factor that is largely beyond the control of users too.
 

Mark Costello

Distinguished Member
Keeping some of my powder dry for the discussion next week, I can safely say that these boutique labels have had a massive influence on my viewing habits.

No 88 Films, no undying love for Italian horror and Poliziotteschi (hard boiled cop thrillers)...........
No Arrow Films, no love of Spaghetti Westerns and gialli..........
No Indicator, no love for lesser-known Noir........

They are to me like, to carry on Ed's comparison to music, the curated playlists on streaming services - they are a source of constant recommendation, either via their brilliant cover art, huge extras package or the buzz that gets generated around forums such as ours by fans and genre enthusiasts that help spread the word.

I know that in some of the other hardcore forums out there, there are some cases of near terminal fanboyism that greets every single announcement from some of these labels that you have to sift your way through........but without these labels I simply would never have been introduced to the likes of Lucio Fulci, to Sergio Carbucci, to Benson & Moorehead, the list goes on........

What's been interesting to see is how they've evolved, for both the good and the bad. The good is that they are now no longer at Zipco levels of quality. New transfers and restorations are often the name of the game and they are putting out some of the highest quality packages around. Yet the flipside of this is a noticeable increase in issues that come with these releases - almost all of the recent high profile Arrow 4K disks have had some form of issue requiring replacement packages; and of course look at more mainstream releases from the likes of Scream Factory in the US who's mega Friday the 13th complete collection had to have 3 of their disks replaced even before street date.......either market expectations are growing exponentially out of hand or these labels are now overreaching themselves to try and compete.......

The other issue is of course the changing price points - as Ed mentioned, putting out initial releases at ridiculous price points, then waiting for a 'standard release' down the line may work, but if people catch on, all us suckers, I mean early adopters who used to buy these tat laden sets, will just sit back and wait as the value for these sets starts to decline (which in my eyes they have in most cases), which then may disincentivise the labels from releasing the standard issues and we all miss out.......

I'm a huge fan of these labels - all of them - and long may they continue, but they and the landscape they operate in are changing, lets hope they, and our wallets, can keep up!
 
Last edited:

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Don't forget Blue Underground in the States, their 4K discs have all been superb so far.
 

Tom Davies

Editorial Contributor
Again, stuff to save for the podcast, but I am a REAL sucker for the tat that comes with these releases. That goes for movies and the stupid record reissues that @Ed Selley mentioned.
I am a bit of a hoarder of this BS and if some dumb movie comes with a little book about how clever the marketing team is (looking at you, Mandy) or how the critics just didn't get it (Looking at you, Fanny Lye Deliver'd) I am there for it.​
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Sky Glass, Epson Laser Projectors plus Home Cinema Subwoofers and More…
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom