MGM DVD Class Action Settlement

electron

Administrator
Staff member
On December 13, 2002 Wasserman, Comden, Casselman & Pearson L.L.P. filed a class action complaint, Eallonardo v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. et al., Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC286950. The complaint alleges that MGM's advertisements that "widescreen" DVDs provide up to 50% more image than MGM's standard screen DVDs is false and/or misleading. Plaintiffs allege that the "widescreen" DVDs show the same width of the film as the "standard screen" DVD of the same film. The complaint alleges that defendants violated the unfair competition laws, false advertising laws, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and committed fraud.

On December 20, 2004 the Los Angeles County Superior Court granted preliminary approval to a class-wide settlement. You are a member of the proposed settlement class if between December 1, 1998 to September 8, 2003, you purchased certain MGM widescreen DVDs (DVDs for films shot in the aspect ratio of 1.85 to 1 or 1.66 to 1).

If the proposed settlement is approved by the Court, Class Members who submit timely and valid Claim Forms may exchange each Eligible DVD for (i) a new MGM DVD from a list of 325 titles or (ii) $7.10.

To request a Claim Form, you must call 1-800-285-2168.

Before requesting a Claim Form, please verify that your DVD is an Eligible DVD by reviewing the Eligible DVD List. To view the Eligible DVD List, please click here.

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smee

Senior Member
Either I'm really missing something here or this is one of the silliest things I've ever heard.

Do the plaintiff and lawyers claim that people thought the advertising meant their TVs would get wider?

I've heard that manufacturers are favoring full screen (pan and scan) DVDs because consumers don't like the black bars at the top and bottom (wasn't there something about Walmart requiring full screen a while back?). I guess this decision will help justify studio decisions to just stop distributing wide-screen DVDs.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
They are saying that MGM claims their WS movies show 50% more, but in this case, they movies aren't WS at all. They just cut the top and bottom part off from the regular full screen version, and advertised it as widescreen. Judging by the list, it looks like they did this to save money or something, because many of these are B movies. In a few words, they were advertising WS movies while they weren't WS. Silly, yes, but a valid complaint.
 

smee

Senior Member
OK, if that's the case then it makes sense. I just skimmed the related documents, but I didn't see anything that explained the problem this way. Did they really do this? Wouldn't it chop off a lot of heads?

I'll revise my statement, then. It's not silly. It's fraud.

By the way, I looked at the list too. Definitely a lot of B-list movies there (except "Annie Hall", and I like "The Coca Cola Kid" too, and ...)
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
looks like the lawsuit is stupid after all, MGM 'mislabeled' some of the DVD covers (trying to teach people about widescreen), and got busted for that.
 

smee

Senior Member
I was just looking at the same dvdtalk link that electron posted above. I'll go back to my "silly" opinion.

The problem is apparently in the explanation of widescreen on the DVD. In an attempt to briefly describe it, MGM apparently misled consumers. I'll have to see if I can find one of the suspect DVDs and see for myself.

The other theory is that it's people complaining about the fact that many movies intended to be shown widescreen are filmed on normal aspect ratio film. They are matted after filming and before release (by the creators of the film). So, in theory there is a full-screen version (entire frame) available with more information - including all the information that the film's makers don't want in it (like boom mikes and control rods for puppets).

Whichever of these is the case, it sounds like a silly lawsuit - designed to make some people richer and normal consumers confused.

By the way, the list of DVDs that's linked to includes things like "The Terminator". So, either this is a list of all widescreen DVDs they made, a list of the DVDs you can trade for, or...all those fans of "The Terminator" never noticed that there were problems with the print and never complained anywhere. I guess it's one of those movies that people watch once and then forget about.
 

ericvic

Active Member
As far as I know film has always had a different aspect ratio than TV. I know there are a few different aspect ratios out there for film and that even widescreen TVs don't have the correct aspect ratio for wider of the film aspect ratios.

Even if a studio masked a film for "widescreen" I don't think the unmasked film would be standard TV aspect ratio.

I think people in this country have gone lawsuit crazy. I think that ost people who bought an MGM movie bought it because it was a certain movie not because is was 50% more picture. In my opinion there are way too many people (and lawyers) out there trying to make a quick buck.

Eric
 

rocco

Active Member
ericvic said:
As far as I know film has always had a different aspect ratio than TV. I know there are a few different aspect ratios out there for film and that even widescreen TVs don't have the correct aspect ratio for wider of the film aspect ratios.
Eric is right, TV's aspect ratio is narrower than all of the film aspect ratios, except 16mm. TV is 1.33:1 and HDTV is 1.77:1, whereas the narrowest film ratio (Academy) is 1.85:1, which is a big difference from TV. Even worse are anamorphic films, which are typically 2.2:1. The bottom line is that you can't see everything that the director intended without that black space on the top and bottom of your TV, even with HDTV.

However, that is changing. With the new digital cameras, the 1.77:1 aspect ratio (actually referred to as 16x9) will eventually take over.

MGM meant to say that you see 50% more of the original image, but the marketing people got over-zealous with the language.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
To me it's simple. Make a DVD movie fit the newer wide screen TV's with no black bars and you will sell more movies. It should be as simple as that. The average consumer doesn't care about 1:345 and 6 :888 they just want their TV screen full.
 

smee

Senior Member
rocco said:
TV's aspect ratio is narrower than all of the film aspect ratios, except 16mm. TV is 1.33:1 and HDTV is 1.77:1, whereas the narrowest film ratio (Academy) is 1.85:1, which is a big difference from TV.
Is this right? I thought that the original "movie film" was the size of 2 35mm still camera film frames (actually, 35mm camera film was made as half the size of movie film).

Two 3:2 35mm still frames side by side will give you a 4:3 ratio (long sides together). I thought this is where the original 4:3 ratio came from. Now, you are not likely to find many new movies with this ratio, but plenty of old ones use it.

4:3 = 1.33:1
 

smee

Senior Member
Another thought:

Maybe it's time to sue all the TV manufacturers (at least the CRT-based ones). TVs don't normally show the entire picture. Some of it is lost on the edges (especially the sides). And don't even think about how much is lost in the corners since the border is usually filleted, too.

I paid for that DVD, cable, satellite, etc. picture. And my TV is preventing me from seeing everything I paid for. They must do something about that.
 

Squintz

Senior Member
I would love to see "The Entire Picture" of a movie in full screen from my proector. You lose a ton of detail by watching a movie that has been formated to fit your tv. I think the directors should start filming in full screen mode. Set the stage so that you do not lose any details while filming. There have been a few movies that I prefered to watch in wide screen just so I could see the few extra inches on each side. Movie theaters should all convert to full screen to. That would be one big as screen ;)
 

rocco

Active Member
smee said:
Two 3:2 35mm still frames side by side will give you a 4:3 ratio (long sides together). I thought this is where the original 4:3 ratio came from.
Yes, Smee, you are right. The full 35mm film frame is 18mm high and 24mm wide (1.33:1), and we refer to this as "full aperture". The cameras accept an "aperture mask" in front of the film plane that restricts the size of the image. With the exception of visual effects shots, where you may need the margin to composite the images, we never shoot at full aperture.

The 1.85:1 ratio is so standard because that is the aperture mask that is used in the projectors.
 
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