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The Problems with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Amazon's CreateSpace Titles - UPDATE #3
on May 30, 2014
For the last few years 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has been using Amazon's CreateSpace venue to produce hundreds of titles, many of them being current seasons of popular TV shows. These sets include DVD-R discs (essentially your basic writable DVD-R you can buy at any office supplies store), pixilated cover art and recycled, flimsy casing.
I am not completely opposed to the entire MOD (made on demand) process, because, it's a way to get hard to find titles back in print again (or to get low demand titles available to those whom want them) with low cost to the studios who own the rights. For example, The Warner Archive Collection does a great job with their releases, providing movies, TV shows and even Blu-Ray discs with nice cover art and packaging. I've never had a problem with their products because they have a specific branch of their home entertainment department dedicated to these releases. The same goes for Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Universal Vault Series of DVD-R releases.
Now, this is not the case with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, since they use the CreateSpace account that Amazon has. From what I understand, CreateSpace manufactures the titles, and they are then listed as Amazon Exclusives. CreateSpace is not a division of the Fox Home Entertainment branch (just like with Paramount- they too use Amazon and CreateSpace and have just as many issues with their titles as Fox- anyone who has tried to get seasons 2 and 9 of Rugrats, know this very well).
The first release I had purchased through the Fox/Amazon/CreateSpace deal was The Killing - Season 2, and had to return my order three times before giving up. The discs were damaged from being improperly manufactured (the episodes would freeze or not play) and each of the three discs were scratched from being improperly inserted into the case... and again on each of the replacements that were sent had the same issues.
Now with reports of Louie - Season 3 (the discs are blank or simply don't play episodes) and Last Man Standing - Season 1 (missing entire episodes that are listed on the back cover- *I am not told this issue has been fixed*) having massive issues that stem to the discs themselves not being burned correctly, something NEEDS to be done here. These releases are NOT worth the list price of $30. That price is the SAME price as regular DVDs and Blu-Rays... It's totally insane that we are expected to pay that kind of money for a decidedly subpar product, that is also being carelessly created.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, in this case, needs to step in and right this, but in all honesty, the real people to blame for the issues with these products are AMAZON and CREATESPACE.
WE DEMAND THAT YOU TAKE THE TIME AND EFFORT TO SUPPLY US WITH A PRODUCT WORTHY OF OUR $30 BUCKS. IF DVD-R IS WHAT WE MUST DEAL WITH TO GET THESE TITLES, THEN MAKE SURE THEY ARE BEING PROPERLY MADE. THIS IS JUST GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE. TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY HERE! CHECK TO MAKE SURE THE FIRST BATCH WORKS PROPERLY, ALL THE EPISODES ARE INCLUDED, THERE AREN'T DAMAGE TO THE SETS WITH MULTIPLE DISCS!
If other studios and companies can use this format and be successful at it SO CAN YOU. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
ON A SIDE NOTE:
Season Three of Louie is fantastic and gets a total 5 Star rating. It's one of the best comedy/drama series on TV. If you don't want to deal with the DVD-R format, and you have access to Netflix, Seasons 1-3 of Louie are currently (as of 5/30/2014) streaming on the site.
I have a replacement copy coming on Wednesday (June 4, 2014).
To specify the problem with my copy of Louie - Season 3, the first disc was not encoded (or I guess Burned, is a better term since they are DVD-R discs) correctly. The menu would come up, but if you selected "Play all episodes" or chose a specific episode, the disc would just restart itself back to the Fox logo and then back to the menu. The second disc was perfect. I even tried disc one in my MacBookPro and opening in it VLC Player to see if maybe it was just an error with the common devices (for me a Sony Blu-Ray player) we are playing the discs on... but no luck. They are simply being manufactured wrong. I just don't understand how this keeps happening, over and over and over...
I am going to call Fox on Monday and ask them about the process they take to get their titles made through Amazon/CreateSpace. How much of it is out of their hands and how much is Amazon/CreateSpace responsible for the errors. I want to really get to the bottom of this problem for the sake of everyone who wants to own physical copies of TV shows and films... since they will be quickly going all digital. I will update my review with more information when I get it...
This has not been a one time, one title problem... this has been happening for tons of their releases. It's just simply NOT OKAY.
I have placed calls into Amazon (for which they have sent me a replacement) and could not inform me of anything. I have called Fox Connect and they also had no information to give me. I even called the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment offices in Los Angeles, California, and again, got nothing. I also tried to get in contact with CreateSpace but you can't access their customer service information without being a registered, paying client of theirs.
I see that the product is now under review, which is good, since that means Amazon is taking steps to fix it. However, my replacement copy was sent before the item was taken off sale for review, so I guess, there will be yet another update coming...
I just received my replacement copy, on schedule (June 4, 2014), and naturally, it was defective as well. I figured as much since it was sent out before the item was taken off the site for review. I had no choice but to sent back both copies and accept a full refund. I do very much want to own Louie - Season 3 on DVD and I do plan on buying it again, so hopefully the problem will be resolved quickly and I will be able to get a working product...
Now, I'm expecting to go through his whole process again since I am taking yet another risk in ordering The Killing - Season 3 through the same Fox/Amazon/CreateSpace DVD-R program. You might think me crazy for doing this and not waiting until others have received their copy and have reported that it works fine/has any problems... but alas... I will be the guinea pig for you all... if you are interested in the quality of that product, check for a review of that set at a later date when mine arrives and I am able to properly test the product...
I still don't have a good feeling about it...
Till then, I hope this was helpful and I hope Fox/Amazon/CreateSpace can work together to figure out the issues with their joint products... this on going problem has been ignored for way too long and needs to be addressed on EVERY TITLE THEY PRODUCE. PERIOD. Make sure when buying any DVD-R title, especially seasons of TV shows, you do your research to make sure your money will be well spent. And please, if you find a title that has issues, do your best to let them know so we collectors will be able to get proper, working, long lasting items.