Friday, October 31st, 2008

I Am Trying to Release a Blu-ray

Dear Plexifans,

Next month, we planned to release a high-definition Blu-ray edition of Sam Jones’ acclaimed 2002 documentary about the band Wilco, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. Earlier this week, Wilco sent a message to their fans telling them not to buy the Blu-ray disc, saying that they didn’t think the film warranted a Blu-ray edition. While we respect Wilco’s opinions, they hadn’t seen the Blu-ray version of the film, nor had they contacted us and asked to see it, or expressed any concerns about it to us whatsoever.

Look, we’re huge Wilco fans too, we co-produced the film and we’ve been distributing it for almost seven years now. But (stay seated fellow fans) this is not Wilco’s film… it’s Sam Jones’ film, that happens to be about Wilco. And at the end of the day, our responsibility is to the filmmakers whose work we distribute, and it’s our duty to release that work in the best possible format we can. We used to release films on VHS, then DVD, now on Blu-ray and iTunes; as the technology progresses, we’ll continue to release our films in these new media. Most importantly, any decision about the format in which to release a film is the filmmaker’s decision, period.

With the Blu-ray release of Helvetica earlier this year, Plexifilm has started a program of releasing films in our catalog that were either a) shot on 16mm or 35mm film, or b) shot in high-definition video, as a Blu-ray disc. Producing a Blu-ray disc is expensive, and we also have to pay a per-disc fee to the Blu-ray Association for the privilege of pressing the discs (don’t get us started on that). But the HD resolution and better sound of Blu-ray are hands-down better than DVD… it’s not even close.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart was shot (beautifully, we might add) on super-16mm film. We had originally done a high-def transfer of the film print, which was then down-converted to standard definition for the DVD release. So we started with a high-def, pristine representation of the film, then had to dumb down its resolution to conform to old DVD technology.

The advent of Blu-ray meant that we could go back and release the much-better HD transfer, which no one has ever seen. It’s the closest you can get to actually sitting in a theater and watching the original film. Does it make the film look like Spiderman 3? No, but it’s the best possible representation of the movie. As filmmakers, we’ve been dealing with the poor quality of DVD for a decade now, so it’s a relief to finally see our work available in a better-quality HD format. If you have the standard DVD, should you run out and buy a Blu-ray player just to see it? Maybe not. But if you already have a Blu-ray player, you’ll want to see this version.

That said, we don’t feel comfortable releasing a version of the film that Wilco might have reservations about. So here’s what we’re doing: we’re postponing the Blu-ray release, to give us an opportunity to show the band the differences between the HD and standard definition versions. We hope they agree that fans with HD televisions and Blu-ray players deserve to see the best possible edition of the film.

We’ll keep you posted…


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  1. Does Wilco like the film? I can’t remember reading any of their comments about the film.

    Comment by J S — November 3, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  2. I absolutely love this band, and I think the visual and sonic beauty of this special film would only be enhanced in the Blu-ray format. Let’s get it done!

    Comment by BK — November 17, 2008 @ 11:06 am

  3. I for one would expect a band like Wilco to care enough about releasing their material in its most pristine and genuine form. Having said this, the Blu-ray format gets closer to this (especially with TrueHD, uncompressed audio) than any other medium available for consumers. Instead of down playing the necessity of fans upgrading from the standard definition, why doesn’t Wilco try and make this Blu-ray release a special one, with added features not found on the original DVD? With their input, and the director’s, this could be a classic release. Be optimistic Wilco, Plexifilm’s interests are also towards sustaining a good image of you to your fans, it costs them a lot to put out a Blu-ray and this shows dedication. The fact that they’re trying to justify the release to you by delaying it only goes to prove this. I hope you come to a decision quickly and swiftly about releasing this fine film on Blu-ray.

    Comment by Mustafa — November 27, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  4. I just wanted to say thank you for your dedication to developing the highest quality possible versions of your releases. The Helvetica blu-ray was well worth the upgrade, as I’m sure any of your releases would be. Stay strong!

    Comment by Taso g. — December 4, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

  5. Please release this already!!!!!! Come on….Blu-ray is the future!!!! I love this film and can’t wait for this to be on Blu-ray!!!!

    ** Note to Plexifilm: PLEASE be sure to include ALL the special features and bonus footage from the 2nd Disc!!!!

    Dave in Virginia

    Comment by Dave in Virginia — January 8, 2009 @ 7:47 am

  6. You know what would be great on Blu-ray? Dutch Harbor: Where the Sea Breaks It’s Back. Weren’t you guys supposed to release that a while back?

    Also, thank you for existing.

    Comment by LS — January 8, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  7. Update this post PLEASE! Is this coming out anytime soon? I’d really love to see this on Blu Ray. I’m not sure exactly where Wilco is coming from, but I imagine they just don’t understand the imagine benefits the extra resolution would afford. In fact, I have friends that still believe that Blu Ray is only good for digitally shot or recently produced movies, and that just isn’t the case. The quality difference is startling, even on some of the oldest movies (i.e. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1939)). RELEASE THIS MOVIE! PLEASE!

    Comment by Efrain Perez, Jr. — January 30, 2009 @ 8:25 am

  8. How long does it take to re-release a product Plexifilm already owns???? By the sounds of things it was already produced as well. PLEASE RELEASE this MOVIE!!!! PLEASE!!!! PLEASE make sure the 2-Disc set is ALL included on one Blu-ray disc. Let’s Go!!!!!

    Comment by Dave in Virginia — February 20, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  9. I guess the band won this argument. Very sad that Plexifilm can not release content that I assume they own. What happened to the all the blu-rays that were already manufactured?? The band seemed to be of the opinion that it was dipping into the fans pockets. Isn’t that the choice of a fan? Nobody from Plexifilm forces anyone to buy the blu-ray!! They are just providing an awesome movie via the best available media. Wake up WILCO!! Blu-ray is here to stay!!

    Comment by Dave in Virginia — April 22, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  10. Totally frustrating that here we are a year later and NO BLU-RAY release of this film yet. During the past year Wilco released yet another DVD ONLY release….Do they not get it? PLEASE RELEASE THIS FILM ALREADY!!!

    Comment by Dave in Virginia — October 19, 2009 @ 6:48 am

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