Independent Video Store is coming. Should let you know we’ll have a limited stock of INDEPENDENT VIDEO STORE DAY T-Shirts going for $18.99. Have a peek and come on down to celebrate for all Video Stores everywhere.
Howdy Van city,
Criterion announced another fine and eclectic batch of titles, including one very in demand out of print title. It all starts off JULY 9th with a DVD and Blu-Ray of Kenji Mizoguchi’s LIFE OF OHARU. The following week on JULY 16th comes a new 4K transfer on DVD and Blu-Ray of Peter Brook’s LORD OF THE FLIES. Then on JULY 23rd comes your very anticipated BABETTE’S FEAST on DVD and Blu-Ray. That same day comes the Blu-Ray of Ang Lee’s THE ICE STORM. Topping the month off, on JULY 30th with a cool new Mike Mignola cover comes Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish Civil War horror flick THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE on DVD and Blu-Ray. Scroll down for artwork.
On the Shout Factory front, they have announced a Blu-Ray release for the Dolph Lundgen alien vs cop on the edge actioneer DARK ANGEL aka I Come In Peace. Release for that is sometime in August. We will let you all know when we have street date.
All are pre-orderable now. Give us a call 604-734-5752, or come on down to the store.
As promised here’s some art from Criterion and Shout Factory, including THE PRODUCERS (Street July 2nd) and THE FOG (July 30th).
Before we get to any news today, we just wanted to let you know about the late movies that just arrived and are now on our shelves. Here they are, in picture form. Check the New This Week link up top for prices.
Be back in a few with some exciting release news.
It’s New Release Tuesday and the morning rush of collectors buying their awaited Criterion titles has subsided for the moment. So let’s talk about some future releases.
Kino Lorber is releasing a couple of early Bette Davis films, HELL’S HOUSE, and OF HUMAN BONDAGE, both on DVD & Blu-Ray. Street is June 18th.
A few weeks earlier Kino is releasing the first Alan Clarke film to make it’s way on Blu-Ray. We’re talking about SCUM coming out on both DVD & Blu-Ray. Street is June 4th.
You guys seem to have dug Shout Factory’s recent Action-Packed Movie Marathon. They’re following it up with SCI-FI MOVIE MARATHON. It includes, AMERICA 3000, ARENA, THE ELIMINATORS, and THE TIME GUARDIANS. The VHS art for The Eliminators always entranced me when visiting the video store as a kid, but I never got around to watching it. Thanks Shout, now I will. This release is DVD only and it streets JULY 9th.
New genre label Vinegar Syndrome has announced a few long lost or forgotten sleaze titles. First is a DVD/Blu-Ray combo of New York underground film THE TELEPHONE BOOK. It’s about a lady named Alice, a sex-obsessed hippie who falls in love with the world’s greatest obscene phone caller and her quest to find him. Same day comes a double of THE DUNGEON OF HARROW/DEATH BY INVITATION on DVD. Both street MAY 7th.
The next month Vinegar Syndrome follows up with two more release. First is punk vs redneck classic PUNK VACATION in a nice DVD/Blu-Ray Combo pack. Same day the 1974 documentary A LABOR OF LOVE, about the heart felt and earnest attempt to create an X rated movie. This one’s DVD only and they both street JUNE 11th.
Before we go, here’s some cover art to most of the titles above, and new artwork for COHEN AND TATE (Street JULY 9th), JACKIE CHAN: BATTLE CREEK BRAWL/CITY HUNTER Double Bill (Street JULY 16th) and George A. Romero’s KNIGHTRIDERS (Street JULY 30th). That’s it for now. Talk to you soon.
Welcome back Vancouver. Anybody going to the movies this weekend, instead of having the movies come to you?
At the Cinematheque this weekend, they’re playing the Alamo Drafthouse discovery MIAMI CONNECTION. A violent movie with a pacifist message about a tae kwon do club/new wave band targeted by drug smuggling ninjas. It’s been a popular seller here, just sold out of the blu-ray (still available for special order), DVD still in stock. Check it out at the Cinematheque, or get your copy from us. Either way you will learn the true meaning of Friends Forever.
It’s double billed with another of our best sellers, Lee Van Cleef and John Philip Law team up in DEATH RIDES A HORSE. We have the DVD here with even more Spaghetti Westerns on our counter.
Speaking of Repertory Theatres, the Rio Theatre is playing a new documentary THE REP focusing on The Toronto Underground, a success in the dying world of repertory cinema. Check it out Sunday, Apr. 7th, and Tuesday, Apr. 9th, both shows at 7pm.
On home video news, Shout Factory and their sub label Scream Factory has announced another fine assortment of favs for July. Mel Brooks’ THE PRODUCERS is coming to Blu-Ray JULY 2nd. We’ll get back to you with specs and artwork.
The John Landis, Zucker Bros. collaboration THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE is also out on Blu-Ray JULY 2nd.
JULY 2nd has Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin as mismatched hitman in charge of a kidnapped boy, in the underrated COHEN AND TATE. This is a Blu-Ray release folks.
JULY 16th brings Ralph Bashki’s HEAVY TRAFFIC on Blu-Ray. On the same day Shout Factory continues releasing Jackie Chan classics on DVD and Blu-Ray. This time is a double bill of BATTLE CREEK BRAWL/HUNTER.
On JULY 23rd come John Carpenter’s THE FOG on Blu-Ray.
And on JULY 30th we have THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, and George A. Romero’s motorcycle jousting flick THE KNIGHTRIDERS. Both making their debut on Blu-Ray.
Shout Factory have fast become the best non-Criterion DVD/BLU-Ray label out there. Great transfers, extras and packaging, and this slate of releases further proves it.
We were talking about the Alamo Drafthouse earlier. JULY 23rd Drafthouse Releasing brings us two Asian thrillers. From the Phillipines comes a kidanpping gone wrong in GRACELAND. From South Korea we have PIETA, about a loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. Both will be on DVD and Blu-Ray.
That’s it for now. Remember we’re a brick and mortar shop here in Vancouver. Stop on by. Or give us a call and pre-order. For now here’s some more cover art of upcoming releases.
Today starts with a bit of bad news. Screenwriter of Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, and one of the first publicly recognized and popular film critic Roger Ebert passed away at 70 after a long battle with cancer. We here will always appreciate his gospel of approaching a film as not what it is, but how the film is. Here’s Gregory Ellwood at Hitfix with the story and a bio.
After that bit of tragic news, how about some Zombies.
E1 will releasing new Zombie Rom-Com WARM BODIES on DVD and Blu-Ray JUNE 4th. We can be sad about the defanging Zombies have gotten over the last ten years, but word has been surprisingly good for this sweet-hearted tale of undead love .
Drive director Nicolas WInding Refn oversaw the English language adaption of his Danish series of films THE PUSHER TRILOGY. Seville will be releasing the new PUSHER on DVD and DVD/Blu-Ray combo on JUNE 25th.
The new G.I. Joe has barely been out, but Paramount has announced G.I. JOE: RETALIATION on DVD, DVD/BLU-RAY COMBO, and 3D Blu-Ray. It’ll hit shelves JULY30th. Not quite sure we’ll be stocking that one, though we hear it’s goofy fun.
New home video label Cohen Film Collection has been impressing our customers with recent releases of Bunuel’s Tristana, and Faribank’s Thief Of Bagdad. On JUNE 4th they bring Gloria Swanson and Laurence Olivier in 1933′s PERFECT UNDERSTANDING on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Warner is releasing their first wave of Gangster classics on Blu-Ray. THE PUBLIC ENEMY, PETRIFIED FOREST, LITTLE CAESAR, and WHITE HEAT all come MAY 21st. All those titles will be collected in the ULTIMATE GANSTERS COLLECTION: CLASSICS blu-ray set coming the same day. The set will include the documentary PUBLIC ENEMIES: THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE GANGSTER DRAMA.
Synapse will be releasing splatter gore comedy STREET TRASH: SPECIAL MELTDOWN EDITION on blu-ray JUNE 11th.
From Severin, another fine purveyor of cult favs, will be releasing on JUNE 11th, HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES, and HOUSE ON STRAW HILL. Both come on a DVD/Blu-Ray Combo pack.
BBC is looking out for the Sci-FI nerds out there. Some classic Who releases include DOCTOR WHO: EP. 56: MIND OF EVIL, DOCTOR WHO: INFERNO: SPECIAL EDITION and DOCTOR WHO: DOCTORS REVISITED 1-4 all on DVD JUNE 11TH. MISFITS: SEASON 3 also comes out on DVD same day.
Adult Swim fans can look forward to SUPERJAIL!: SEASON 3 comes to DVD on JULY 23rd.
We’re still catching on all the great release news. Remember you can always pre-order these titles from us. Come on down to the store 1972 West 4th AVe inside of ZULU RECORDS, or give us a call 604-734-5752.
For now here’s more cover art.
Starting a new feature updating you on future home video news. Let’s get started.
Universal seems committed to releasing our favourites on home video. Which a cheaper DVD re-release of the MARX BROTHERS: SILVER SCREEN COLLECTION coming MAY 14th. It will include all the films in the previous release, The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup. W.C. Fields films from the Universal catalogue are also being re-released on DVD JUNE 4th in the W.C. FIELDS COMEDY FAVORITES COLLECTION. Package will include International House, Man on the Flying Trapeze, My Little Chickadee, It’s a Gift, Poppy, The Bank Dick, You’re Telling Me!, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break and The Old Fashioned Way.
If you skipped on the Alfred Hitchcock Universal blu-ray set, or the Universal Horror blu-ray set, and opted to wait for single title releases. Your time has come. The first of the classic monsters to come out on JUNE 4th are Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Mummy (1932) and Phantom of the Opera (1943). Creature will include both 2D and 3D as in the box set.
On the Hitchcock front. MAY 7th sees the first two of his Universal films to hit Blu-Ray starting with SABOTEUR and ROPE. SHADOW OF A DOUBT follows on JUNE 4th, and then THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY coming JULY 2nd. This is only the first wave. More will come.
Not quite done with Hitch. Universal has set a Blu-Ray release of the ALFRED HITCHCOCK: THE ESSENTIALS COLLECTION that was previously released on DVD. Set includes Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho and The Birds. Y’know, the essentials.
If you didn’t know Warner Bros has bought the license to distribute the majority of Paramount home video catalogue. SO expect to see a lot of titles that have been out of print to come back to our shelves, or be available to order. Like the ZODIAC: THE DIRECTOR”S CUT, or other oft requested titles like Paul Newman’s NOBODY’S FOOL.
I bring this up because Warner Bros, will be releasing Paramount’s classic films SHANE and THE ODD COUPLE on Blu-Ray. Both come JUNE 4th
On the TV front BREAKING BAD: SEASON 5 is coming JUNE 4th and both DVD and Blu-Ray.
If you thought the new Kevin Spacey series HOUSE OF CARDS was going to be a Netflix exclusive forever, that’s not the case. A DVD and Blu-Ray set will be released JUNE 11th.
Also in TV releases PORTLANDIA: SEASON 3 comes out JULY 2nd on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Here’s some cover art.
by Maxine Frank
Videomatica, the specialty video store, operated in Vancouver for 28 years. Started to fill a niche in the growing video rental industry in 1983 the store earned a strong reputation and loyal customers. In the fall of 2011 the rentals aspect of the business had to close. One year later the collection has been donated to universities and the Videomatica sales continues near its old West 4th location.
The co-founders of Videomatica, Graham Peat and Brian Bosworth, both attended the University of British Columbia together but didn’t meet until they worked together in the Vancouver television industry. In the early 80s there was a large amount of video rental stores, but none that catered to people with more specialized interests. Peat explained in an interview that trying to have “movie nights” with friends who worked in TV was difficult because none of the stores carried the movies they were interested in.
The small number of second run theaters in Vancouver also limited the options of viewing older movies or documentaries. When looking into the availability of classic, foreign and music films Peat discovered that many were able to be acquired through distributors in the United States. He began to compile information on different suppliers, considering opening his own store. After mentioning this idea to Bosworth, the two decided to go into business together in the spring of 1983.
When choosing a location for their store Peat and Bosworth decided that places like the North Shore or South Vancouver wouldn’t be convenient for many customers to commute to, and that downtown would be too difficult to find parking. Burrard and 4th was chosen because it was at a crossroad where customers could travel to from multiple locations. A record and movie collectible store, Cinematica, had gone out of business so it was converted to Videomatica. “And that was me just saying ‘Oh we’ll save money, we’ll just buy three neon letters,’” joked Peat.
The first location was 1,000 square-feet and the stock at first was only 350 movies. Peat and Bosworth had decided to carry movies on VHS instead of Betamax, and started with no membership fees. According to Peat, Videomatica was popular very quickly. People in the neighbourhood started patronizing it, and the co-owners advertised in as many avenues as they could. Eventually the reputation grew, if you wanted specialty movies you went to Videomatica.
With customers and movie acquisitions growing after four and a half years, Videomatica moved to a new location on the same block. The new location was 3,000 square-feet, and the collection still grew. The video store scene of the 1980s experienced a boom, with stores becoming abundant. Peat describes there being one across the street from Videomatica, and two on the same block at one point.
By 1985 larger companies such as Rogers and Blockbuster opened up stores to compete with the smaller video store chains. Not wanting to be limited by the terms of joining a franchise, Videomatica opted to be independent. Eventually during the 1990s there was what Peat calls a “thinning out” period and many of the smaller rental franchises closed.
In the 1991, while VHS was still viable as a format, Videomatica also introduced Laserdiscs into their collection. Laserdisc was seen as the new up and coming format for serious movie collectors. Unfortunately, the high price of the discs and players alienated most customers except for dedicated videophiles. Although it never caught on, Videomatica continued to carry the movies it had on Laserdisc that were unavailable in any other format.
DVD was available in North America in 1997, and eventually became the format to overtake. While VHS could cost as much as $120 per movie, DVDs were $30 and could still be rented for the same price. Bosworth further explained the convenience of DVD in an interview with the Vancouver Sun: “If people took 10 VHS movies home they could barely carry them. Ten DVDs, no problem. You’d rent it and slip it in a pocket. It was a nice, shiny technology, and people liked it.”
Videomatica purchased DVDs as soon as they became available direct from Seattle retailers. Starting with less than a hundred, the DVD collection continued to grow. This coincided with the creation of Videomatica’s first rental website, so the staff was able to scan the new movie covers. This website allowed customers to browse and reserve films online. Videomatica was the first rental store to carry DVD in Western Canada.
Videomatica earned its reputation as the movie connoisseur’s choice for video rentals. It received many recommendations from The Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Sun, and The Province among others over the years. By the time rentals closed the stock contained 30,000 DVDs, 5,000 VHS tapes and 1,000 Blu-Rays. The entire collection is valued at $1.7 million.
The range of movies at Videomatica was wide. Specializing from the beginning in classic, foreign and music films the genres would grow to include large amounts of gay and lesbian cinema, documentaries, and indie films. On the stores 25th anniversary a list of the top 25 rentals of all time was compiled. Withnail and I, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Baraka, and The Bicycle Thief were among those most popular.
In 2005 Videomatica opened its online Rentals by Mail website. The site allowed people from all over the country the ability to rent the unique movies often only available from Videomatica. The intention was to compete with the growing market of DVD rentals-by-mail. Zip.ca, a division of Rogers video, was the primary competition before Netflix became available in Canada.
August of 2008 is when Bosworth first noticed a decline in business that was worrying. At first Peat dismissed it as a temporary trend, but it was noticeable that it was not an isolated incident. VHS rentals were down to almost nothing and DVD rentals were starting to recede. The new format Blu-ray was stocked around this time, previously having won its “format war” against HD-DVD. Consumers were much slower to embrace Blu-ray than they were DVD, so the rentals and sales did not help the slumping income. Rentals by Mail was helping to bring in profits and keep business going.
Peat elaborates in his interview that Videomatica and other video rental stores were experiencing a 10 percent drop in business. “We figured out quickly that if you go down 10 percent every year, you’re not going be around too long. And that’s what happened by the second year, it continued that way…” Making a profit was increasingly difficult since Videomatica had a high overhead and rent for commercial spaces on West 4th going as high as $50 per square-foot.
Eventually even the Rentals by Mail system was facing a decline. The preferred method of obtaining movies through the internet became online streaming, a service Videomatica could not offer. The lease on the building came up and the co-owners of Videomatica had to make a decision. Rather than lock into another five year contract and continue to lose money, Peat and Bosworth decided not to renew.
Many blame the closure of Videomatica and other video stores solely on sites such as Netflix and movie pirating. Peat, however, considers the “Netflix killed the video store” idea to be too simplistic. He points to the many sources of digital entertainment from Video On Demand and YouTube to illegal downloading. Coupled with the high cost of retail space in Vancouver, urban rental stores have little survival margin. In smaller towns; where lack of high speed internet access coupled with fewer alternate entertainment options result in a much slower decline.
While the store was in the process of closing, the question of what to do with Videomatica’s collection was considered. Most video stores that close sell their collection to the general public, but the co-owners did not wish to do that. Since it was a very unique collection the hope was to preserve it in a library. Vancouver Public Library was approached, however after several months of negotiating the VPL decided it couldn’t take the collection. They suggested the library of a university or college might be a better fit.
Peat and Bosworth were put into contact with SFU and UBC by Yosef Wosk, a local philanthropist. Nine months of negotiations followed, with proposals strongly considered from both schools. The idea of the entire collection going to one university and depriving the other was a situation that made Peat uncomfortable. Finally a film professor at SFU, Colin Browne, put forth the idea that his school would acquire only the documentary films with everything else going to UBC. All parties agreed to this.
After Videomatica’s doors closed to the public the staff stayed on to organize and pack all the movies for both schools. SFU received 4,000 documentaries, and the remaining 35,000 going to UBC. This process is described very positively by Peat. “They agreed that they would look at preservation first, they’re going to give the collection a unique identity, they’re going to promote it, it’s going to help them get international and specialized students in film; they feel it’s very good for them and it’s good for everybody.” that by spring 2013 the movies will be available to students and the public.
The assumption was the sales section of Videomatica would close when the store shut down; however discussions with the co-owners and sales manager BJ Summers made them realize sales still had a future. Zulu Records was chosen because Peat and Bosworth believed there was a natural fit for their two stores. After a deal was reached, Videomatica Sales opened a smaller version of its store located inside Zulu. They are still known as a specialty store, able to order movies for customers not normally available in Canada. As of November 15th, 2012 they have celebrated their one year anniversary in that location.
Not many video stores currently operate in Vancouver; most have closed down in the last few years. Their absence has left a void for consumers of certain kinds of movies that the internet doesn’t cater to. “In the long-run all we really care about is that people can get access to great culture, and our visual culture, and that’s what we want to do. It’s not about us making a buck.” Peat remains hopeful for the future, but acknowledges it may take some time. “Let’s hope there is some new delivery. In the meantime, there is a gap that was filled by video stores and it’s become hard and people are starting to realize what isn’t there.”
Peat, Graham. Personal interview. November 6, 2012.
Anson, Jasper. Videomatica: 25 Years as Canada’s Leading Home Entertainment Alternative. November 17, 2008. Print.
Mackie, John. “End of an era: Videomatica, Vancouver’s renowned video store, to close.” The Vancouver Sun. May 6, 2011. <http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Videomatica+Vancouver+renowned+video+store+close/4740107/story.html>
Monaco, Ginny. “Videomatica closes its doors as UBC looks to save its collection.” The Ubyssey. October 10, 2011. < http://ubyssey.ca/culture/videomatica-closes-its-doors-as-ubc-looks-to-save-its-collection875/>
Takeuchi, Craig. “Videomatica is not dead. Guess where it’s moving to? Zulu Records.” The Georgia Straight. October 24, 2011. < http://www.straight.com/article-502466/vancouver/videomatica-move-zulu-records>
Media Release. “UBC and SFU welcome $1.7M Videomatica film collection.” The University of British Columbia Public Affairs. January 16, 2012. < http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2012/01/16/ubc-and-sfu-welcome-1-7m-videomatica-film-collection/>