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Maverick Entertainment Abuses Captive Audience

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A big downside of DVDs is that anal-retentive distributors can now force viewers to sit through stuff they could previously fast-forward past on VHS. Try fast-forwarding past the FBI Warning or ego-inflated producer’s logo, and you’ll get that Stop sign in the corner of your TV screen, robbing a bit of your time (something no studio suit would tolerate).

But Carlita’s Secret take this obnoxious practice to new depths. Released by Maverick Entertainment, this film begins with the usual non-fast-forwardable FBI Warning and production logos, but then follows what looks like a five and a half minute promotional short film!

I can’t comment on the short film, because I didn’t pay attention to it. I spent the first minute of it trying the fast-forward and hit Menu buttons, figuring at some point rationality would resume (which I define as a company serving me, the consumer). When that didn’t work, I switched channels, coming back only after the short had ended. I refuse to be part of a captive audience.

The feature film itself, Carlita’s Secret, was okay. A low-budget, shot-on-video crime drama. No worse, quality wise, than many low-budget horror films.

But then things worsened. After the film ended, I fast-forwarded past the end credits, planning to return to the menu to see if there were any special features. I should have paid attention to the menu the first time, because there was no menu at film’s end. Instead, the same short film began playing once again, refusing to be fast-fowarded through. Apparently, I must sit through this promo piece every time I try to get to the menu.

I wish manufacturers would release a DVD player giving consumers the power to crack these codes, so that we control what we watch, when we choose to watch it. I’m not suggesting anything to allow us to make illegal copies; just the right to use the copies we already paid for in whatever manner we choose. A right we already have under the Copyright Statute’s First Sale Doctrine.

Of course, the studios will scream that even this would violate their copyrights (when really, it’s the studios that are violating our rights as guaranteed by the First Sale Doctrine). Really, fast-forwarding is no different than flipping past pages in a book. Imagine the public outrage if publishers could force readers to read every page, in order. (Not an idle danger, what with e-books here and on the horizon).

On a final note, Maverick Entertainment engages in other sleazy marketing tactics.

Their DVD cover for Senorita Justice falsely implies that Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria stars in this shot-on-video, low-budget crime drama. Actually, Longoria only occupies about 5 minutes of screen time, and even that is mostly just reaction shots; she has very little dialogue.

However, in fairness, Maverick is doing nothing unusually obnoxious here. It’s long been common practice among distributors that when a bit player in a film rises to stardom, that film is re-released with the bit player now given star billing, so as to delude the public as to the size of that big player’s actual role.

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About Thomas M. Sipos

  • http://www.communistvampires.com Thomas M. Sipos

    I now see that Amazon says that Senorita Justice is distributed by Lionsgate. Yet Maverick Entertainment’s website ( http://www.maverickentertainment.cc ) promotes Senorita Justice as one of its own. So maybe Maverick only produced the film, but is not responsible for its DVD box.

    Maverick did, however, produce and distribute Carlita’s Secret.

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    I guess I have been fortunate – none of the DVDs I’ve bought for my own viewing have been straight-jacketed in this way. I did notice that a Disney DVD some kids were watching at a Christmas party this year was. They’re only 2 and 3, so it’s all part of the movie to them.

    I believe I would do the same as you – pop the TV/DVD button and watch 5 minutes of something I choose to watch. Oh, yeah, and never buy another DVD from that label.

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Thomas, Disney is the worst about piling on the previews, but for the many we own at least, you can skip over them.

    Excellent point about the re-marketing of old films to reflect bit player stardom (relatively speaking anyway). I picked up a $5.50 bunding of the original Little Shop of Horrors and some old East Side Kids flick, and the cover of LSOH has Jack Nicholson, although all he has a minor role as plant food.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Disney has gone the preview skipping one better in their latest releases. They now have the DVDs set to auto-start after the previews if you don’t pick a different menu option. That way you can plop your little disney princess down for her movie – and she actually enjoys the previews – and you don’t have to sit there hitting remote control buttons to get the film to start for her – you can go wash the dishes.

    Dave

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    That sounds like a reasonable choice for the kidlings, Dave. Not sure I want it when I go to watch a movie for myself, though.

    Many of my DVDs are musicals – I will often pop a DVD into the machine, and zip over to a favorite song during commercials on TV. Current favorite: the death-row tango from the Chicago DVD, closely followed by Queen Latifah’s “Mama Morton” intro from the same movie.

    Can’t imagine having to wait through a 5-minute promo every time I want to do that!

  • Eric Olsen

    yes, my little Disney princess typically likes the previews too, other than the ones she has seen eleventy-four times, then she says, very seriously, “Daddy, just play the movie.”

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    regarding erics comment #3, this is always amusing. Like No Retreat No Surrender Part Fucking One having Van Damme all over the cover of the video, even though he only appears at the end.

    And the whole unskippable nonsense does indeed suck. At least trailers and stuff can usually be skipped.

  • Eric Olsen

    yeah Duker, even the picture is hilarious, not even a clear front view of Nicholson from the movie (because there isn’t one!), just a furtive sideward glance, probably just before he was devoured

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