On September 21, actor and director Danny Devito and Andy Parsons, SVP of corporate communications for Pioneer Electronics and chair of the Blu-ray Disc Association's (BDA) promotion committee in the United States, participated in a virtual roundtables with journalists held by the BDA. War of the Roses and Hoffa, both directed by Devito, are out now on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Here’s a selection of the Q&A portion of the roundtable:
Q: How big is your Blu-ray collection, and as a filmmaker, do you ever feel Blu-ray is TOO sharp and clean?
DeVito: First let me go backwards. I don't ever think Blu-ray is too sharp and clean. If the filmmaker wants the film to have a certain texture and quality, that feature will be realized even more with Blu-ray. If you're shooting a movie with a grainy or otherworldly or other look to it, it's not going to tamper with the psychological effect of it. It's going to be presented as the director intended. I buy them as soon as they come out, so I have quite a few of them.
Q: Is there a "Death to Smoochy" Blu-ray in the works? (Please??)
DeVito: As far as I know there's no "Death to Smoochy" Blu-ray in the works. I need the support of all the fans in the world to make that happen. It's a Warner Bros. movie, so please call them!
Q: As a filmmaker, what are your thoughts of people watching films on smaller screens versus the big screen?
DeVito: I think you can enjoy a movie on a smaller screen just as well as on a bigger screen. I sometimes watch movies on my computer on the road; it's a great gift. As a kid all I could watch was the Million Dollar movie on channel 9, on a 13-inch Dumont, and I really enjoyed it. It's your taste in movies, and you can enjoy them on a big screen or not. It's great to watch movies on the big screen, but a movie is a movie, and it's good to watch them any way you can.
Q: "Greetings from Philadelphia." When these films were mastered for Blu-ray, did you keep the color timing, contrast, etc. the same as you did for the original theatrical release?
DeVito: Hey! Yes, everything is the same, except it's realized in a more vivid way. We wanted to keep the same feeling of the original film; we didn't want to change the way the audience responds to the movie by changing the way the film looks. The film and Blu-ray is just how I was seeing things on the set. You get the full array of visual and aural information with the Blu-ray.
Q: We've heard that rental is doing very well in comparison to ownership of content. With consumers able to stream content (basically a rental model) what is the compelling argument for ownership?
Parsons: There’s really no substitute for Blu-ray Disc when it comes to owning a movie that you'd like to enjoy more than one time. When you buy a film in a combo pack, you are actually getting the Blu-ray, the DVD and, often, a digital version, with all three giving you the ability to watch your movie in more places than ever before. Streaming is more like a rental model, as you can watch a TV show, for example — when you’re near a network at least — that you may only want to watch one time. Both ways of watching content are different, but they can coexist because they fulfill different needs. As I'm fond of saying, the idea of renting a film via streaming versus owning it on disc is not a this-or-that option. It's a win-win.
Q: What types of extra features did you include on the films?
DeVito: We have interviews with the composer and producer. Material that I shot — extra scenes, behind the scenes, etc. And I have an introduction for the Signature Series that I'm very proud of that has never been seen before by the human eye.
Q: How, if at all, does knowing your films will ultimately be transferred to Blu-ray affect how you think about making a film, the extras that go into the presentation etc.?
DeVito: This is something that I think about all the time. Right now I’ve been doing TV. We’ve been doing “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for eight years, and we are definitely big fans of creating extra content. We do a lot of behind-the-scenes skits to fill out the extras on the DVDs. Every movie that I make from now on will have a major amount of thought put into the extras.
Q: Are there any further developments on 4K?
Parsons: Not at this time. If and when the time does come for a 4K home entertainment format, we think Blu-ray would be best equipped, particularly when compared to online distribution methods, to handle it due to its high bit rate and 50GB capacity.