DVD

Where is it?

Remember back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when the media and content providers claimed we would be accessing content from the four corners of the earth?

Well, it’s nearly 2020 and we’re still having serious distribution issues when it comes to music and film from Europe.

This may not be a problem for most english speakers in this country, who primarily look at Hollywood blockbusters and the odd independent film from the states, Canada, Britain, Ireland or Australia. But when you wander on the Internet Movie Database and encounter films that feature actors and actresses you know from some of those films, you may notice that these have not been made available to North Americans, regardless of the major award nominations or wins these have accumulated.

In my case I have been encountering dead ends trying to rent or purchase recent music and films from Denmark and Finland, that i’ve been searching for since the release of the Academy Award winning film “In A Better World” in 2011.

This excellent Danish drama is available on blu-ray in North America and can be downloaded via Google Play and iTunes in Canada and the United States. But Canadians will not be able to find “Someone You Love“, another Scandinavian drama featuring Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt, or Danish teen horror flick “Danny’s Doomsday“, which features William Jøhnk Nielsen (one of the young, lead actors in “In A Better World“).

Those films were made available on DVD and blu-ray for a short time after their original 2014 theatrical release and are still available for rental and purchase in Europe via several services, including iTunes and Google Play. But only “Danny’s Doomsday” has made it “across the pond”, exclusively to Prime Video in the states.

I’ve contacted iTunes, Google Play and Amazon/Prime Video repetitively in regards to several other European films and the response is pretty much “we’re slowly adding to our catalog so it might appear online soon”, the response i’ve received for over a decade in response to my requests for several classic french films i’ve wanted.

The delays in regards to the french films i’ve asked for are understandable because they’re rather obscure outside of Quebec and the other parts of North America where french isn’t common. But I won’t lie and say I don’t find it rather irritating to see soundtracks from the more recent films being featured on those services instead.

Seriously, I had purchased some of the music off the “Urban Family” soundtrack from iTunes four years before randomly encountering the Finnish musical on some obscure channel on my Roku a few weeks back. And to make matters worse I have also yet to be able to purchase “Uusi Ullottovuus“, a catchy tune by the Brotherus Brothers, the young sibling trio that features Johannes Brotherus, one of the lead actors of that film!

There are also no guaranties that a foreign film will remain available for a long time in North America, which is made apparent by the disappearance of the multiple award winning films like “Good Bye Lenin!” and “I’m Not Scared” from our store shelves and content providers. And all we can do is add titles to our wish lists on the latter, occasionally checking with JustWatch to see if a film pops up somewhere online.

Yes, you could try to find these films on DVD or Blu-ray on eBay or Amazon and use an all region DVD or blu-ray player if these discs aren’t coded for our region but this can get quite costly because of the shipping and handling costs per disc, although the later is more bearable if the DVD or Blu-ray you’re purchasing is compatible with your current player ; Consult your DVD or blu-ray player’s manual for details.

Personally, i’d prefer paying the foreign film producers directly to rent or download their films, when no distributor is available. But there are usually contract issues lingering in the background that keeps that from happening, unfortunately.

I have managed to secure some foreign films on DVD and blu-ray, that were produced in North America. But i’m guessing these are going to get rarer as more and more people just stream or download films legally.

I guess we all need to be patient about these things. But sometimes…

Argh!


The Boxing Day Sales Are Online

The Boxing Day Sales have begun and here are the retailers I usually shop at :

Amazon.ca has Boxing Week specials on various item, notably film boxed sets, drones and various other products.

Best Buy Canada is offering quite a few items on sale, including a large amount of televisions. Not many blu-rays or DVDs but there are a few turntables.

The Brick is offering discounts of Home Electronics including televisions and home audio, including a Sony USB turntable and Sylvania Nostalgia 5-in-1 Music Centre. The latter is discounted, considerably.

Chapters / Indigo is offering up to 50% off various books and merchandise, with an additional 20% if you use Masterpass. This offer ends on the 31st.

HMV Canada is pretty much Canada’s largest remaining entertainment store chain. They offer good deals on blu-rays, boxed sets, vinyl and film/music memorabilia. But always do some comparison shopping. And if you find something today, don’t forget to use coupon code HMV2016 to save $5 on shipping and handling on orders over $25.

Henry’s is a chain that primary sells cameras and accessories. But they also sell drones and video camera accessories. Youtubers may find a deal or two here.

Ikea Canada doesn’t sell televisions or home theatre or audio items. But they do sell shelves and accessories. They are currently offering free shipping on orders over $50 that are placed today, December 25th, 2016. I particularly like the Gladsax picture frame, which is used to frame LP covers.

Like many of Canadian’s major retailers, Leons is mostly offering discounts on televisions. But there are deals to be had in Home Theatre & Entertainment. Shop around for the best deals.

Long & McQuade is a music instrument and accessory store. And they are will be having specials on quite a few item from December 16th to December 31st, 2016. If you’re a musician, you might want to check them out.

Microsoft Canadaicon‘s Boxing Week sale features PCs, the Surface, the X-Box and various accessories.

Newegg.ca had quite a few Boxing day discounts on computers, computer accessories, gaming systems and home entertainment systems. And like Chapters/Indigo they are offering a discount on purchases made with Masterpass, this time $25 off purchases over $200 using coupon code MPBOX25 until Midnight PST December 28th, 2016. Vinyl fans should note that they offer a considerable amount of turntables and accessories.

Sears Canada is offering quite a few items on sale, including headphones ((12/25 – 12/28) Beats By dre headphones – white $129.97) and other daily discounts on specific products. Look for specials in the Portable & Home Audio and Home Theatre, especially on the 26th.

The Source has televisions, computers, tablets, cameras and accessories on sale. But i’ve seen better prices for some of their sale items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And their record players are pretty much the same price as Newegg Canada.

Alternatives To Zip.ca

Now that Zip.ca has closed its doors I’m sure some of you are looking for alternatives, so I thought I’d provide a few.

Unfortunately there are few alternatives when it comes to rentals by mail now that zip.ca is gone.

It appears that only DVD Link is offering a mail rental service at the moment. But their rates are pretty good at $9.95 to $54.99, depending on how many DVDs or Blu-Rays you want to rent per month. And unlike zip.ca, this Vancouver based company rents games and don’t charge more for Blu-Ray rentals.

People who like renting from kiosks will of course fare better because Redbox  just recently expanded into the Atlantic Provinces and Western Canada.

Redbox kiosks have pretty much invaded my city (Ottawa), and can be found at most Sobeys, Loblaws/Real Canadian Superstore, Walmart and Giant Tiger stores.

They’ve placed kiosks at quite a few of those stores through-out Canada, both indoors and outdoors. And I like them because you don’t need to return your discs at the specific Redbox kiosk they were rented from.

I believe they’ve replaced most of the Bestbuy Movie Kiosk locations at the 7-Eleven, Mac’s, Safeway, Real Canadian Superstore and Walmart stores in western Canada. And possibly the Moviemagic kiosks in Ontario as well.

In the Montreal area they have opened locations at IGA stores. But until they expand further the best solution for rentals in the province of Quebec are the Superclub Videotron stores.

Independent stores can still be found in the largest cities, through-out Canada. But the largest video rental store chain in Canada is now Jumbo Video/Superclub Videotron, which operate stores in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

Quebecor Media owns both of these chains along with Microplay, a chain that rents videogames from some of the Jumbo Video/Superclub Videotron locations. But whether these chains will fold like Rogers Video and Blockbuster Video is unknown.

High speed internet remains prohibitively expensive in many areas, especially in rural communities, so renting individual films from iTunes, Netlix, Cineplex or Cinemanow may still not be a viable option for some.

Another option is to bite the bullet and rent films via the on demand and pay per view services offered by the cable and satellite companies. But at $5.99 to $7.99 per film this can get quite expensive.

They do occasionally offer some discounts on The Movie Network/TMN Encore and Super Ecran but the delays on new films remain on those channels and I’ve found that the Hollywood Suite package is much better if you’re mostly interested in classic films. The later is much more affordable at the moment.

Those are pretty much my suggestions on this matter. I will of course post updates, if some occur. I hope that you found this information useful.

UPDATE : Redbox left the Canadian market in Early 2015, significantly reducing our options. Some public libraries have limited selections of rentals offline but it appears that online film rentals have killed off the physical rental market in Canada. Click here for my first impressions on the Shomi service.

Various Blu-Ray Offers

You’ve got until May 1st, 2014 to bring your old DVDs over to your local Best Buy and Future Shop to recycle them in exchange for a discount on Blu-Rays.

Basically you either get $5 off select Blu-rays or $10 off select 3D Blu-Ray combo packs, one discount per individual DVD trade in.

Of both offers I’d say the Future Shop offer is superior because not only do they appear to have more Blu-ray titles to choose from but they also give people coupons that entitles Cinemanow members to rent films online at half price.

I managed to get “Anchorman II” on Blu-ray by trading in an old DVD at my local Future Shop and got Cinemanow coupons on my receipt for every Blu-ray I purchased. This coupon will expire next month, on May 22nd, 2014.

You’ll also notice that like “Anchorman II”, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is also on sale for $14.99. And although that Blu-ray isn’t an eligible title for the trade in offer, some of the $14.99 “Amazing Spider-man” Blu-Rays include a coupon for $10 off the purchase of a theater ticket for the new Spider-man film.

That coupon is found on specially marked packages and includes a code that you need to redeem on the Cineplex website.

I found the specially marked Blu-ray on a display with several other films that include the coupon. And that purchase also resulted in a Cinemanow coupon being added to my receipt.

These offer may not be available nationwide so check your local flyers for details.

DVD To Digital

I’ve just noticed a neat feature at Cinemanow Canada. A Disc to Digital conversion service that allows people to add their DVDs to their Ultraviolet accounts, either in standard definition or high definition.

The Disc to Digital menu option can now be found on their new player software, which is compatible with the latest Windows and Mac operating systems.

To add a title to their online collection all a person needs to do is to insert a DVD into their computer’s CD-Rom or Blu-ray player and click on a button to receive an option to purchase a standard definition version for $2 or high definition version for $5.

Individuals who have unlimited internet and stream HD movies now have a relatively cheap way to up-convert their DVDs. But it should be noted that this program is relatively new so the titles are limited and I’ve encountered a glitch that I’ve just emailed Cinemanow Canada about.

I don’t know if this happens to any other DVD or if it’s a glitch limited to my Windows 7 machine. But my Spider-Man DVD registers as being “burned” when it is actually an authentic DVD. I purchased it new from a major retailer.

Blu-ray discs are not yet supported. But I’m assuming they’re working on this. And many titles already have free Ultraviolet codes on them, though I recommend you redeem them as soon as possible because some of them have expiry dates.

Various FAQ Added

I’ve just added a general frequently asked questions page, in which I address questions I had previously been asked. It will of course expand over the next few days, as I start remembering some more emails.

Hope it helps you.