‘The Office’ Complete Series Available on Blu-ray Via MOD

Universal’s The Office: The Complete Series will come out from Allied Vaughn via manufacture-on-demand.

The release features 34 Blu-ray dual-layer discs at $119.98.

“The Office” is a documentary-style look at the humorous and sometimes poignant foolishness that plagues the 9-to-5 world. Episodes include Michael’s (Steve Carell) infamous encounter with a breakfast grill, Dwight’s (Rainn Wilson) power plays, Jim’s (John Krasinksi) pranks, Andy’s (Ed Helms) struggles with anger management, and Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim’s evolving romance.

Developed for American television by Primetime Emmy Award winner Greg Daniels, The Office: The Complete Series includes every episode plus bonus commentaries, webisodes, blooper reels and more than 15 hours of deleted scenes.

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Well Go Joins Allied Vaughn MOD Service

Well Go USA Entertainment has joined manufacture-on-demand service Allied Vaughn, launching the deal with four Blu-ray releases available now in the Asian action and horror genres.

The Korean actioner Unstoppable stars Don Lee as a legendary gangster enjoying a quiet retirement. When his wife is kidnapped, he must once again become the brutal criminal he left behind.

In the Chinese actioner Line Walker 2, a car crash sparks a war between local police and an international terrorist organization. After Superintendent Yip (Francis Ng) and Inspector Ching (Nick Cheung) arrest a hacker named Yiu involved in the accident, the two police officers are suspected by Superintendent Cheng (Louis Koo) as double agents. Clues lead the three officers to the far foreign soil of Myanmar and Spain, but as the investigation continues the lines between good and evil become blurred.

The Chinese actioner Chasing the Dragon 2: Wild Wild Bunch is based on real-life crimes that terrorized Hong Kong in the 1990s. Logan (Tony Leung Ka Fai) is the head of leading a notorious human trafficking gang, abducting the children of the city’s elite. Police forces decide to send in Sky (Louis Koo), an undercover agent whose mission is to save the hostages, all while bringing the gang and their leader to justice in this action-packed thriller.

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The Chinese horror compilation Lucid Dreams presents four stories in which the director recounts four of his own dreams. The explored dreams are Tung, a down on his luck young man who decides to hold a fake wedding in order to pay his debt to a finance company; Fan, a depressed white-collar worker whose boss is trying to steal his girlfriend; Tung Tung, a writer who reunites with her long-lost mother; and Chun, a bus driver inspired by four ‘ghost ladies’ to believe in his musical talent.

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In other news from the MOD service, Allied Vaughn in its newsletter stated, “Despite the operating climate, our internet, food & drug, and catalog based resellers report brisk sales throughout the past month. General merchandise retailers along with specialty outlets have definitely been impacted by stay-at-home orders. But, overall home video sales for AV Entertainment titles remain strong.”

MOD Service Allied Vaughn Announces Plans to Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak

Disc manufacture-on-demand service Allied Vaughn March 18 announced plans to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our focus continues to be the health and safety of our Allied Vaughn Team, families, clients as well as the communities where we work and live,” wrote president Doug Olzenak in a letter to clients. “With this in mind, we are committed to the same high quality and timely service you have always experienced with Allied Vaughn. Accordingly, we have implemented a Readiness and Response Plan for this unique situation.”

The company has moved as many positions as possible to working from home, has eliminated international travel and is limiting domestic travel to critical need, and has limited visits to its facility to critical need only.

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“In the event Allied Vaughn offices in Edina, MN, Aurora, IL (office) or Livonia, MI should be affected for a period, we have a Business Continuity Plan in place to serve our clients,” read the letter. “With an operational infrastructure designed to accommodate working virtually, most Allied Vaughn team members can work remotely, and many are doing that now. You can continue to reach them using the phone numbers and email addresses you have on file.”

For manufacturing and distribution in Aurora, the company has “developed a compartmentalized workforce, diversified distribution plan and increased manufacturing capacity,” read the letter.

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“In addition, our contingency plan includes strategies to respond to team members diagnosed with the virus, or any mandated quarantine,” Olzenak wrote. “Our goal is to ensure key functions of our business operate seamlessly so essential services continue uninterrupted. In addition, we are in contact and working with our suppliers and supply chain partners. Changes are coming daily. But, by working closely with our partners, any interruptions in the supply chain will be minimized to the degree possible.”

 

Allied Vaughn VP Richard Skillman to Retire

Richard Skillman, VP of manufacture-on-demand service Allied Vaughn Entertainment, has announced that he will retire.

“It is with bittersweet news that I share with you the news that I will be retiring at the end of this month,” he wrote in its latest newsletter. “I recently celebrated my 40th year with the Allied Vaughn organization and have been proud to be involved in its evolution from the early days of film processing to today’s leading technologies in entertainment distribution. I am looking forward to traveling in the coming year with my family, many know my passion for film location adventures around the world, so you may hear from me around the locations of a famous film secret agent.

“I have treasured my working relationship with all our customers and wish you all the best of success in 2020.”

Allied Vaughn creates on-demand Blu-rays and DVDs for a long list of studios in the home entertainment market.

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Screen Media, 3rd Fathom Films Join Allied Vaughn MOD Service

Screen Media Ventures and 3rd Fathom Films have joined the Allied Vaughn manufacture-on-demand service.

Screen Media Ventures, owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, acquires the rights to independent feature films for the United States and Canada and has a library of more than 1,500 motion pictures. The company also owns Popcornflix, an ad-based direct-to-consumer online video service with five channels and thousands of television episodes and movies. The first Screen Media titles under the deal, streeting Oct. 22, include the family film Fishtales (2007), starring Billy Zane and Kelly Brook; the horror flick Evil Feed (2014), about group of young martial artists who infiltrate an underground pit fighting ring where the loser is chopped up and served in a Chinese restaurant; the comedy FDR: American Badass (2011), in which FDR fights werewolves and saves the world, all from the comfort of his wheelchair, starring Barry Bostwick, Lin Shaye and Kevin Sorbo; the comedy Freshman Orientation (2004), about a college freshman who feigns being gay to be near a beautiful co-ed; and the drama Getting High (2006), about two artists on the verge of success who are determined to find a way out of their drug-fueled abyss.

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3rd Fathom Films is an independent studio based in Atlanta. Its library includes two feature films and 25 short films. Its first release on MOD, due Oct. 18, is The Final Project (2016), about six college students making a documentary about one of the most notorious haunted houses in America.

Warner Archive Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The Warner Archive Collection, the manufacture-on-demand arm of Warner’s home video unit, last month celebrated its 10th anniversary — but its reach spans decades.

Since its first collection of 150 titles released in March of 2009, Warner Archive has navigated a host of changes in home entertainment business models and formats while releasing catalog titles on MOD from every decade and for every taste.

“Whether it’s Bogart and Bacall or whether its Hitchcock or Hammer horror films or Busby Berkeley films, we’re releasing something for everyone,” said George Feltenstein, SVP of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, who heads up the unit.

It’s also generated well in excess of $100 million in revenue for the studio over the years.

Manufacturing on demand is a process by which a disc is created when a consumer orders it, offering consumers access to titles that don’t have the kind of demand that supports a traditional pressing.

The kernel of the idea for its use in home video entertainment came from Warner’s Jim Wuthrich (currently president of worldwide home entertainment and games), Feltenstein recalled.

Feltenstein had been working on a joint venture with Rhino Records for soundtracks in 2002 and 2003 under a label called Handmade. “They would produce 2,500 units of albums that were aimed at collectors, and when they were sold out, they were sold out,” he said. “And it was a profitable way of getting niche content out to the consumer. You could only buy it online.

“So Jim saw the CDs in my hand and he asked me about them, and I explained the business model, and he said, ‘That’s fascinating. I have to figure out a way that we can get our deeper library titles out on DVD.’”

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MOD turned out to be the ticket, and several years later, with the help of Allied Vaughn, Warner Archive on March 23, 2009, released its first MOD collection.

“To my knowledge, [MOD] didn’t exist in our world, meaning the Hollywood studio world,” Feltenstein said. “We were the first studio to do this. Nobody had ever done it before.”

That first collection of 150 titles on DVD included some starring the legendary Debbie Reynolds, a “dear friend” of Feltenstein’s.

“On the morning of the 23rd, Debbie Reynolds was in New York on ‘The Today Show’ announcing the launch of the Warner Archive Collection,” Feltenstein said.

“She explained what it was and that some of her films were part of the initial offering. And then that night I did something that I used to do every year and had done for about 11 or 12 years at that time. We would have a yearly chat on the Home Theater Forum, which was and still is a fan site.”

During the chat, Feltenstein tried to allay any fears about the quality of the MOD discs. Warner Archive also had been careful to provide the proper aspect ratio (no pan-and-scan cutting out part of the picture).

“People were very excited, but to be fair there was also some trepidation,” he said. “There was concern about that fact that these were manufactured on demand, and people thought that DVD-Rs were not … they thought that manufactured on demand was similar to burning a disc on your computer, and it’s just not. It’s a fuller technology. The DVD-Rs and the process we went through was a much higher quality, so eventually — and it took a long time — eventually we gained consumer confidence, and now that it’s been 10 years, I’ve noticed people posting on the sites, ‘I have Warner Archive discs that are nine, 10 years old, and I’ve had no problems with them.’”

Those chats would soon lead to podcasts, all available on iTunes, and appearances at such fan confabs as Wondercon and Comic-con at which Feltenstein and staff would talk about upcoming releases and interview stars and directors from the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond.

Those first 150 releases included such classic features as Mr. Lucky with Cary Grant and Laraine Day, The Enchanted Cottage with Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire, Abe Lincoln in Illinois with Raymond Massey, Edison the Man with Spencer Tracy, and Private Lives with Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery, but also included more recent films such as Kaleidoscope with Warren Beatty, Oxford Blues with Rob Lowe and Wisdom with Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore.

The collection included “a lot of really good films that just hadn’t made their way to DVD and when you’re dealing with the wonderful incredible library that we’re so blessed to have, you know it’s an embarrassment of riches, and the response was tremendous,” Feltenstein said.

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As the catalog business waned at traditional retailers, Warner Archive was able to offer more and more classic titles via MOD — assisted by the technology to offer dual-sided discs and eventually Blu-ray Disc.

The kind of content expanded as well, beyond feature films.

“We have 3,250 releases on our docket as of now,” Feltenstein said. “We started with feature films only. We expanded into made for television movies, and we eventually were able to start adding television series.”

Warner Archive’s quest for more, deep library content also pushed preservation at the studio.

“Eventually we got to the point where we were confronted with the fact that masters on the shelf were starting to run out, that we would need to start creating new masters if we wanted to maintain our quality standard, and our standard of making sure we had original aspect ratio, and so forth,” Feltenstein noted.

Thus, a side product of Warner Archive was preservation of content that could have languished and deteriorated on the shelf.

“Our first remastered releases came out in June of 2010, basically 15 months after launch,” he said.

Eventually, most of the other studios caught on to MOD, but none had a unit like Warner Archive, Feltestein said.

“I like to refer to it as the boutique within the behemoth,” he said. “We have a very small dedicated staff, very engaged with consumers.”

Those consumers add up to a profitable business for Warner.

“It may be a smaller group of people, but there is still a rabid fan base out there for all sorts of content where people want to own things, and we’re trying to take advantage of that in a profitable way, listening to fans, watching sales,” Feltenstein said.

Lionsgate, Virgil Films Join Allied Vaughn MOD Service

Lionsgate and independent studio Virgil Films have signed on to Allied Vaughn Entertainment’s manufacture-on-demand disc service.

The first batch of Lionsgate titles will come out on Blu-ray May 14. American Exit is a crime thriller based on a true story starring Dane Cook as Charlie, a desperate father who steals a million-dollar painting from a shady art dealer. The futuristic thriller Life Like follows a couple who purchase a robot to cook and clean at their sprawling new home that, using artificial-intelligence, starts to anticipate the couple’s needs and desires. Also due are seasons four and five of the series “Power,” from executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.

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From Virgil on DVD April 9 comes the documentary We Are Columbine, filmed by a survivor of the school shooting attack two decades ago who interviews classmates, teachers and administrators about the lasting effect of that fateful day. Then on June 4 on DVD Virgil unveils Brave Girls, a documentary about Indian girls navigating their future, choosing between school, love and marriage.

The MOD service has also added Marshall Publishing, which produces educational and kids content, to its ranks.

Classic Laurel and Hardy Collection Coming April 1 From Film Detective and Allied Vaughn

Laurel & Hardy: One Fine Collection — a DVD collector’s set featuring more than 10 hours on two discs from the iconic comedy duo — will be available April 1 from The Film Detective via manufacture-on-demand service Allied Vaughn.

The release comes on the heels of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s March 26 digital, Blu-ray and DVD bow of the feature biopic on the duo, Stan & Ollie, starring John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan.

The classic set includes 27 short films from the duo’s formative years (1921-1936) — including some silent films newly restored from the original elements — that capture the performances in which they honed the sight gags and slapstick that propelled them to worldwide fame. The set also includes three bonus shorts, two featuring Laurel & Hardy cameos and one from producer Hal Roach.

On disc one are The Lucky Dog (1921), 45 Minutes From Hollywood (1926), Duck Soup (1927), Duck Soup (1927/French-Dutch title cards), Battle of the Century (1927), Call of the Cuckoo (1927), Slipping Wives (1927), Do Detectives Think (1927), Their Purple Moment (1928), We Faw Down (1928), Habeas Corpus (1928), Flying Elephants (1928), You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928/Long), Stolen Jools (1931/Bonus) and Mixed Nuts (1934/Bonus).

On disc two are You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928/Short), The Finishing Touch (1928), Leave ’em Laughing (1928), That’s My Wife (1929), Liberty (1929), Double Whoopee (1929), Double Whoopee (1929/Talking Version), Angora Love (1929), Big Business (1929), Blotto (1930), Be Big! (1931), Twice Two (1933), The Live Ghost (1934), Tit for Tat (1935) and On the Wrong Trek (1936/Bonus).

The set comes from the archives of Scott Entertainment in conjunction with The Film Detective, from the original film elements courtesy of Richard Feiner & Associates.

Two New Studios Join Allied Vaughn MOD Service

Two new studios — Redwind Productions and Spectacle Films — have joined the Allied Vaughn manufacture-on-demand service.

Coming on Blu-ray Feb. 5 from Redwind is the love story Sunshine, a made-for-TV docu-drama based on the journals of a young wife and mother diagnosed with terminal cancer that aired on CBS in 1973. Purported to be the most watched television film in history, it features a soundtrack with words and music by John Denver. The film stars Cristina Raines, Cliff Foster, Meg Foster and Brenda Vaccaro.

Available on Blu-ray from Spectacle Films is the documentary The Gilligan Manifesto. At the height of the Cold War, Sherwood Schwartz filmed the TV classic “Gilligan’s Island,” which depicts seven castaways shipwrecked on a deserted island. The Gilligan Manifesto reveals this seemingly innocuous sitcom was intended as an analogue for a post-apocalyptic world where survivors must rebuild civilization and astoundingly create a communist society. The film features Schwartz, as well as Russell Johnson (“The Professor”) and Dawn Wells (“Mary Ann”) and is narrated by Chicago 7 defendant Rennie Davis.

Research: MOD One of the Leading Trends in 2018

Manufacture-on-demand, MOD for short, is on a roll.

MOD discs differ from traditional DVD and Blu-ray releases in that they are only produced on demand for customers, rather than pressed in bulk. The distribution process allows content owners to do away with storing inventory.

In 2018, manufacture-on-demand (MOD) DVD skus surpassed those that were traditionally manufactured, and it looks like it’s the first time that has happened (though 2017 data is still coming in).

That’s according to Ralph Tribbey, editor of The DVD Release Report. Tribbey, via his report, has tracked statistics in the disc industry for more than two decades.

Through Dec. 21, there were roughly 4,900 MOD DVD skus versus 4,700 that were traditionally manufactured.

It’s just one of the trends Tribbey has noted in 2018.

Blu-ray MOD disc skus also grew. Through Dec. 21, there were 755 such skus (versus 1,956 traditionally made), compared to a bit over 500 BD MOD skus in 2017.

“That’s a pretty significant jump,” Tribbey said.

He attributes that growth to the fact that most players sold these days are Blu-ray players, and even independent suppliers, who often take advantage of MOD, are choosing to move to that format because of the players’ ubiquity.

The move to MOD is in part being driven by the major studios, Tribbey said.

“The studios have all but given up on catalog,” he said.

That has left an open market in catalog for independents — and for disc pirates.

“The piracy has completely run amok [on disc],” Tribbey said. “The major studios are so in love with digital that they’re not even looking at what the pirates are doing. I’ve never seen it like this.”

Noting the comeback made by CDs and vinyl in the audio market, Tribbey said video discs (DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-ray) are far from dying. In fact, the number of skus is approaching the previous high point of more than 15,000 in 2006, the launch year of Blu-ray. It’s a different mix, with more direct-to-video, religious and special interest titles, but the disc format is still going strong.

“The format’s not going away,” Tribbey said.