It'll only reveal some more region-free Blu-rays Michael
- We're simply not releasing anything on Blu-ray unless we can release them region-free. Region-coding is anti-human (of course). Someone's got to make a stand, and I'm very, very happy to see that AE seem to be doing so.
Large organisations like Criterion and the BFI simply have no choice in many cases. I completely understand, and it guts me that they have to impose restrictions on their releases. I still think there's a lot more could be done in this area.
Sorry to take so long to get back to this: I was waiting for reliable confirmation about the region status of the first BFI Blu-ray release not to be handled by the rightsholder of the old United Artists catalogue (i.e. Red Desert
, the Pasolinis and the Woodfall titles).
And I'm delighted to confirm that the Jeff Keen set will indeed be region-free
, as will all other BFI Blu-rays where it's not a specific contractual imposition or considered necessary for other strategic business reasons. (For instance, even if the BFI owns the world rights outright, it may be necessary to region-code if that means concluding a licensing deal with a foreign distributor - and since such deals often dictate whether a new HD transfer is affordable in the first place, it's a bit of a no-brainer!)
Peerpee's post was also very interesting, as it proves that compromise of one sort or another is currently unavoidable. If you polemically set out to be region-free (like MoC claims to be with its Blu-ray catalogue), you basically shut off access to a substantial chunk of material: he knows full well that several rightsholders and sales agents are currently unbudgeable on this issue. On the other hand, if you're more pragmatic (as MoC used to be with its DVD line-up), you'll inevitably have to region-code from time to time.
I really hope this makes everything clear. I'm genuinely not seeking to be confrontational over this, which is why I very much appreciated the tone of Peerpee's post. He at least is well aware of the underlying business realities!
(Believe me, despite that unsubtle dig, I do have a lot of sympathy with Nothing's position - even though this is my twentieth year in the business, I'm still a utopian idealist at heart, and the same is true of the vast majority of my colleagues. That's why I go to such lengths to big up my favourite labels, like MoC, Second Run, PWA or Christopher Nupen's largely one-man operation, as I know from countless personal conversations with the people involved just what genuine labours of love their releases are, and what lengths they go to to try to squeeze maximum quality out of less than felicitous budgets or source materials. But we also know that, unlike our armchair critics, we actually have to go out and pitch for production funds, calculate likely returns on investment and negotiate with foreign rightsholders to minimise risk - and, of course, get it right more often than not in order to stay afloat. And that's true regardless of whether you're a huge Hollywood-based multinational or a tiny shoestring outfit.)