Thursday, December 18, 2008

Whither BCI Eclipse?

Upsetting news online this morning about the demise of trailblazing genre DVD label BCI Eclipse. According to Video Business - and to an associate who emailed me from BCI last night - parent company Navarre has pulled the plug on the genre division, citing continued unprofitability from the label, as well as general economic conditions during the recession. This is especially shocking given the fact that BCI's titles were generally priced at a bargain level, and that home entertainment is usually considered to be one of the few businesses that prospers during tough economic times. If people don't have money, it's cheaper for them to stay home and watch a video, right?

What this news means for upcoming BCI titles like Takeshis, East Meets West, their Shaw Brothers titles (both on DVD and Blu-Ray), and their announced acquisition of the old Miramax library of Golden Harvest and Cinema City films, nobody knows. Suspicions are that Navarre will try to sell the films back to their original licensors. This would be tragic, as no other U.S. companies are likely to pick them up again anytime soon...in fact, what companies remain in the marketplace who could even consider doing so?

For the time being, any fans out there who may have put off purchasing some BCI titles they've had their eyes on might want to visit Amazon pretty soon. I imagine most of these discs will be going out of print in the future. (This would include Battle Heater and Unlucky Monkey, of course.)

Personal condolences go out to BCI marketing and acquisitions manager Cliff MacMillan, who just received a pretty shitty Christmas present. Whether anybody will ever get to see all the supplemental materials I've been working on for the past year, including the interviews with Mineko Okamoto, Genji Nakamura, Yurei Yanagi and Makoto Ashikawa, Masayuki Mori, Hisao Maki, Hiroaki Fujii, Rentaro Mikuni, and others, time will tell.

8 Comments:

Blogger Nicholas Rucka said...

Yee gads! That sucks Marc.

I guess I'm not surprised by this given the tanking of both the worldwide DVD market and the economy, but it still doesn't make it any less disappointing.

On the up side, all of those interviews you've recorded won't lose their historical significance. My suspicion is that they'll remain just as relevant -- if not more so.

10:53 AM  
Blogger J-Film Pow-Wow Crew said...

Man, that's terrible news and not just for all us film fans. You were putting a lot of work into the extras for their releases.

Well, try and have as good a Christmas as you can in light of the news... and keep up the great work.

4:20 AM  
Blogger 追放マーク said...

Thanks for the notes, guys. I don't really expect to hear much news about what's happening until after the new year. And luckily, I've still got my own copies of all the interviews!

6:33 AM  
Blogger Sq. Dave said...

Yes, that's quite disappointing. How about other niche labels that are still around releasing Shaw Brothers and Asian genre films? It's frustrating to think these films will remain in storage until an economic up-shift? Reminds me of when Miramax shelved their Asian acquisitions (Tears of the Black Tiger comes to mind). Does this mean FIREWORKS will remain OOP for a few more years? Ganmbate Marc and Japanese cinema in the West.

5:09 PM  
Blogger 追放マーク said...

Yeah - since BCI had licensed 7 Kitano titles from two separate licensors, those are tied up for the time being. It turns out that TAKESHIS might actually come out, in February. On another board, someone posted news from the remaining guy at BCI that the January and February titles ought to street, since they were already in the pressing stage. But after that...who knows? I'm going to try to be in touch with them, but I can't imagine anyone will want to talk about it until after the holidays are over.

5:21 PM  
Blogger SPM said...

bad news for everyone. they are one of the few legit distros who (mostly) released proper dvd's. many won't like it, but thank god for boots. these kind of films are hard to generate rev w/ a mediocre (at best) fanbase in the states.

i'm sure marc is a bright guy and will hopefully find similar work (asian films) with another company.

5:47 PM  
OpenID telamonides said...

I suppose this means that the new release of "Rikyu" will be canned as well? How many people have been waiting for a good transfer of that film?

At least I was able to get my copy of "Unlucky Monkey"!

7:27 AM  
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11:45 PM  

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