So, okay, I can think of about 100 movies that I want to rent or own on DVD and that aren’t available in this country. What can I do about it? What can you do about it, if you want to see any of these movies?
If I were an unethical, non-law-abiding individual, I might say that the easiest solution would be to obtain a region-free DVD player (or hack one) and buy the movies from overseas vendors. It’s easy enough to purchase items from Amazon UK, for example. That would make it much easier to see some of these films. However, that would be Wrong and I could never suggest such a thing.
Besides, it isn’t the best solution. Some of these movies aren’t available in any region. Some are very poor quality and that’s why no one’s released them in the US. And unless you’ve got money to burn, do you really want to buy all these DVDs?
No, ideally I want these DVDs to release in the US, in Region 1, so none of us need have any ethical/legal qualms about watching them … and so we can rent them cheaply at the corner video store (or the handy Web/mail-order DVD rental service). I don’t want to own most of these movies. I want to watch them once or twice and send them back for someone else to view. And I would prefer not to rent poor-quality or bootleg DVDs, either, I want the best quality available.
So what can we do? Here’s a list of stuff that might not work at all, but at least might make us feel better about the whole thing, like we tried.
Sign up on the Amazon mailing list for DVD release. Amazon does have listings for some movies that they expect to release on DVD eventually, and you can sign up for an email notifying you when they become available. Amazon claims that this also serves as a head count on how many people want to see a given title on DVD. I figure it can’t hurt to try.
I put all the movies from my list that Amazon has in “prerelease” into a handy list for your convenience and mine. Please visit the list if you want to see any of these movies on DVD and sign up for the notification email. I don’t believe they spam (I hope to hell they don’t) so it’s safe. (If you want to make me really, really happy, be sure to sign up for Stage Door and Holiday.)
Let your video store know. Again, I’m not sure if they can do much about it, but it can’t hurt to try. Ask them if there’s anything you can do.
Encourage the local arthouse/revival theater to show these movies. I think these theaters should try to program movies that aren’t available on DVD anyway. If the theater does show the movie, try to round up a big group to see it. Of course, if you don’t have anything but big-chain theaters in the area, you’re kinda screwed. (And probably need the DVD releases even more than the rest of us. Damn.) Anyway, if these movies get a big turnout in a theater, perhaps that will send a message.
Rent the VHS copies. That is, if you can find them.
Rent/buy similar movies on DVD. Maybe if The Philadelphia Story does well, distributors will release Holiday. And so on.
When the DVD you wanted finally releases, rent or buy it. Quickly. That’s the best way to show that these movies do have an audience and we weren’t just whining and complaining about anything handy.
Write about these movies. Hey, I did this one already.
If you think of anything else that might be helpful, email me or post a comment. (No, don’t send me the link on where to buy region-free DVD players. Seriously. Don’t tempt me.)