Region 4 Vs The World
September 20, 2005 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Region 4 Vs The World "Well I for one have had enough. I have a voice and it’s time that it was heard." Frustrated film fan in Australia reports on their dvd scene.
posted by feelinglistless (31 comments total)
Everyone I know in Australia has a region free DVD player.
posted by chunking express at 3:23 PM on September 20, 2005

Don't get me started. He should try living in the UK
They've only just started the final season of Enterprise on terrestrial TV here. He complains that the box sets are expensive. A rough price analysis on the current price of Deep Space 9 box sets shows that at amazon discounted price, we pay an extra 70%.
posted by seanyboy at 3:23 PM on September 20, 2005

Problem solved.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:26 PM on September 20, 2005

The entertainment business has got together to fight internet piracy, apparently thru the medium of doing everything it can to encourage internet piracy.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:31 PM on September 20, 2005

seanyboy: Things still aren't brilliant over here (wither Criterion) but at least we're getting simple things like Harry Potter on first release in widescreen. Didn't love the film but to do that is shocking.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:39 PM on September 20, 2005

Problem solved.

Hells yes. I love my DVP642. Cheap as dirt and plays anything I throw at it, from Japanese DVDs to DivX movies.

The only quibble I have with it is that, if you lose or otherwise break the remote, the lack of console controls means you're pretty much screwed.
posted by xthlc at 3:47 PM on September 20, 2005

This guy's gripes remind me a lot about a Mac gamer's gripes...
posted by bugmuncher at 3:51 PM on September 20, 2005

Problem solved 2.0
posted by Mach3avelli at 3:57 PM on September 20, 2005

Region codes should be forbidden imo. They are nothing but a nuisance. Can anyone articulate a (sensible) reason why they exist in the first place?
posted by hoskala at 3:58 PM on September 20, 2005

"Region codes should be forbidden imo. They are nothing but a nuisance. Can anyone articulate a (sensible) reason why they exist in the first place?"

So that the movie companies can control the release of their films. If the DVD is out in America before the film is in UK theatres, people might opt for the DVD instead of -- the studios hope -- watching it first in the cinema and then a second time on DVD.
posted by MarkC at 4:08 PM on September 20, 2005

Can anyone articulate a (sensible) reason why they exist in the first place?

To make more money via release control and regional price fixing.
posted by I Love Tacos at 4:12 PM on September 20, 2005

And if they were to release movies globally at the same time, it would probably hamper their marketing campaigns. Little Tommy Cruise can only be in one country promoting his new film at any one time and they certainly don't want to release the film without him first being interview by anyone who'll listen -- media saturation is vital when your movie costs a hundred million or more.
posted by MarkC at 4:14 PM on September 20, 2005

"I Love Tacos" (is that a Zim ref?) is closer to the truth. Awhile back, IIRC, England was actually talking about initiating legal action against the movie studios because of the costs of discs in that country - roughly half again as much as what they cost in America.

I also suspect there was also a deal cut with China specifically, since they get to have a region all to themselves which the government can censor to their black little hearts' content.

But truly, it is a relic of ages past. It's yet another example of how the media companies aren't just refusing to move on with the rest of the world, but are actively working to STOP progress. There is very little need for the sort of micro-management of releases like they used to. It's about refusing to give up a form of control that, realistically, has already been taken away from them by the march of progress.

So they console themselves by gouging pretty much every country except America. Then complain about the piracy.
posted by InnocentBystander at 4:38 PM on September 20, 2005

Meh. Actually not getting the full release of parts of some Kevin Smith films may be a real benefit to being in region 4.

The reason against global release may well be the cost of making extra copies on real film reals.

The internet has really made it difficult to try these releases. It is interesting to note how the Phantom Menace was released across about 6 months, which resulted in mass piracy, particularly in Europe which got it particularly late. Compare this to the 'The Revenge of the Anagram's simultaneous release. Serenity is being released in Australia only a few weeks after the US.

Australia's DVDs are a pain, but our TV is shocking. We only have 5 stations free to air, 2 of which are government run. Pay TV in Australia is obnoxiously expensive. This is due to the fact that the only provider is run very badly by Murdoch and the Australian government through Telstra and the fact that Australia is a fairly small market spread over a large area. There is an alternative, which is using digital TV to broadcast about 10-20 channels. However, the government is loathe to do this because it would damage Foxtel, which would hurt Murdoch and reduce the value of Telstra, Australia's old Telecom monopoly that is about to be sold.
posted by sien at 4:47 PM on September 20, 2005

Then there's Steven Soderbergh and Mark Cuban telling The Man™ to go fuck himself.

Good on ya, mates.
posted by basicchannel at 4:49 PM on September 20, 2005

I live in Sydney and can tell you that there were pirated DVD's of "Batman Returns" and "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" going around before the films were even released here.

And when there's the eventual release of the kosher DVD, (with few extras) who's going to be interested at $30+ when that pirated one that you bought from someone at the pub cost you $12 (or downloaded for the cost of the data). Granted, the quality is normally crap, but most people don't care a damn.

Furthermore, I have a laptop with a DVD drive. It allows 4 switches between "regions" before it locks down onto one only. It's a laptop, fer Christ's sake. It's meant to be portable!! What brain-trust thought this one over? Frankly, as soon as I can "unlock" it, I will be doing so. (NOTE: most DVD players are multi-region and are locked with a code as this is cheaper than manufacturing players for regions. Chances are the unlock code for yours is out there.)

The whole concept is anachronistic and fatally flawed. It actively encourages piracy and therefore loses the sales it's supposed to protect. It turns normal people into criminals (Remember, piracy is a crime!) and generally pisses me off!

Down with regions!!!

posted by ninazer0 at 4:53 PM on September 20, 2005

"That 70’s Show is currently in its 8th season in the United States, while the last episode that aired on Australian television was from the 4th season."

I wish I could never have seen any episode from any season of that God-awful shit-heap.
posted by sharksandwich at 4:54 PM on September 20, 2005

(gets off the soapbox)
posted by ninazer0 at 4:55 PM on September 20, 2005

Problem solved.

In theory, yes. (Get a region free player. I recommend Malata.) However, your link is short-sighted. Amazon does not ship electronics out of the USA and does not offer electronics on its non-USA'n sites, to my knowledge.

Can anyone articulate a (sensible) reason why they exist in the first place?

The above stated reasons are sort of correct but incorrect.

If there were no region codes than you would pretty much only have one "studio" or distro putting out each title. This would hinder smaller distros competing with larger ones and smaller ones competing with other smaller ones. That wouldn't be a problem if the larger ones put effort into the discs, however, I'd much rather watch M2K's (R2) Chaplin releases over the American ones. I'd rather watch the German Lost Highway over the Australian one which I'd rather watch over the American one; I'd much rather watch the Polish release of Dekalog over the Facets (USA) one which I'd rather watch over the Vietnamese release. Etc. Etc.

In addition, for independent filmmakers region codes enable them to sell to different territories without (in theory) hindering the sales in other territories. I used to own a distribution company and, for example, I could approach an indie filmmaker and say I wanted North American rights to a film. The RC, in theory, restricts my sales and allows that little filmmaker to also offer the title to a distro in the UK or Brazil or China without that other distro thinking I'm stepping on their toes.

In the days of VHS, that simply wasn't possible. This is one reason why outside of America you didn't see a lot of indie films hit the english language market if they were on video already. A small company in an NTSC, non-American region would be stomped by a large company in the USA.

Another example: the early Criterion titles were R0 (playable world-wide). How many of those titles have been released by other companies outside of America? (CC only owns rights to distribute in America and, in some cases, Canada). Off the top of my head I can't think of a single one that was. However, non-American companies freaked and CC has now been forced to R1 their titles. The result is that we've seen other companies come out with some of the titles that CC are distro-ing, and, in some cases, CC has been outdone.

Region codes do have some benefits that cancel out some of their annoyances.
posted by dobbs at 4:56 PM on September 20, 2005

It also seems to allow for subsets of languages to be sold. European discs contain different language tracks than american ones.

On an unrelated note, when I lived in Luxembourg everyone used to buy canadian DVDs because they had english and french and were released much sooner than the european versions.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:08 PM on September 20, 2005

Star Trek Deep Space Nine is for me the greatest science fiction show of all time, second only to the revamped Battlestar Galactica.

Good grief.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:21 PM on September 20, 2005

I feel for you but.. well, in the beginning it was R2 PAL that suffered with no extras over R1. So I started buying R1 all the time ( is my favourite place). Having lived in NZ (R4/PAL) I quickly realised I would never buy DVDs there, and just kept using R1.

Now I live in Japan, and well.. it's really odd. They got Harry Potter 2 in the theatres 2 weeks after premier. They stalled Ep3 3 months after the rest of the world. Finding Nemo took 1 year and 2 months to make it into the cinemas. All, so they can make a little more profit (has nothing to do with translations).

DVDs on the other hand, seem to be pretty good. Come out fairly quickly, like Constantine is out now, and appears to keep the R1 extras/sound, with alas, translated DVD menus. But that's ok I guess ;)

Why they made it R2/NTSC is a surprise though..

Every player I have is region free, from networked dvd players to laptop player. That goes without saying. Regions are evil, it is a shame that (previously) my money has always gone to USA, but whenever they release something proper in its home region, I buy it there.

Including Japan, China, Korea etc.

Big kudos to Ghibli that gives a little extra effort to add English subs, which means I always buy their DVDs here. And yet, sometimes the Japanese companies to disappointing things like FInal Fantasy DVD release without English. I wont buy that, nor will I buy the dubbed version.

Anyway, the rich companies don't seem to care :) Rather than encouraging people to buy, by putting in more effort for a better product, they rather spend their money discouraging people from buying by adding more "anti piracy" crap, and other complicated things. To buy a DVD player these days is a lot of work and research.
posted by lundman at 5:45 PM on September 20, 2005

dobbs: Interesting take. Good to hear from production/distribution side.

The problem about getting region free players is not with Amazon. In Australia many people have been un-encoding their DVD players for years. Even at a large chain department store in the mid to late 90s a salesman calmly told me how to de-region unencode their DVD players and where to look on the net to find the info.
posted by sien at 5:52 PM on September 20, 2005

absolutely rock on with enforcing more restrictive aussie region codes!! and the more stringent the better.

only make sure to enforce the 4 region code on australian cultural export of any kind. anything (please) to keep crap aussie tv away from the rest of humanity.

good riddance aussie wankers. you deserve to be locked out, ask any brit that's had to endure home and away for more than a nanosecond. tossers
posted by rodney stewart at 8:33 PM on September 20, 2005

yes, aussie TV can be pretty vile, UK viewers maybe interested in this neato hack called the Off Switch that can disable a TV for the duration of any aussie soap opera.

re: regions on DVDs - yes, those large companies are all rah rah rah globalisation until it comes to selling you stuff, then they want to limit our ousourcing of viewing choice as much as possible.
posted by zog at 9:56 PM on September 20, 2005

thanks, dobbs
posted by matteo at 10:15 PM on September 20, 2005

Didnt the Austrailian courts rule region codes were illegal? What ever happened to that.
posted by SirOmega at 10:41 PM on September 20, 2005

Griping about regions aside (to be honest, it's not a problem round this part of the world), there are some valid points in the rant.

Region 4 does get screwed over by special features -- all too frequently commentaries and documentary features can't be licensed for outside of Region 1, or are replaced in favour of more subtitles / audio dubs.

We also get tv shows waaaaaaaaay behind the rest of the world, and the DVDs are waaaaaaaaay more expensive. The R1 choice is far larger than R4 and the packing is nicer.

It's easy to say "just go buy it at" but 1/ you're buying it in NTSC, which doesn't look so good on PAL tvs, and 2/ WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO. There's a substantial market for full-featured DVDs that keeps getting the shaft.

Signed, slightly grumpy NZer.
posted by John Shaft at 10:45 PM on September 20, 2005

you're buying it in NTSC, which doesn't look so good on PAL tvs

I'm anal about getting the copy closest to the original. If it's a US/Japanese TV series it's probably going to look best in 30fps, 480 lines; a PAL-land TV series is better suited to 25fps, 575 lines. For films I prefer PAL, because the 4% speed-up is better (to me) than the occasional loss in smoothness converting 24fps to 30fps. Considering most PAL TVs can do NTSC natively, you might as well buy from country of original.

NTSC transfers are often superior, too -- whether because the source material is more suited to it or because they put more money into the bigger market. The original Evangelion DVDs, for example, look horrible in PAL but nice and sharp in NTSC.

NTSC stuff has one important edge: 60hz. A higher refresh rate on your telly means fewer headaches!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:45 PM on September 20, 2005

rodney stewart ya wanker, doncha know Home and away is made for the english? We only watch it ebcuase you guys keep paying for it to be made. Would have gone off air years ago if you didn't love it so.
posted by wilful at 12:10 AM on September 21, 2005

Get some Region free piece of software for PC!
posted by zouhair at 3:29 AM on September 21, 2005

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