Big box stores and widescreen

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  • Andrew Pratt
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2000
    • 16507

    Big box stores and widescreen

    I'll preface this rant upfront by saying that although I'm picking on Wal-Mart it applies equally to most of the big stores I've been into but since I'm at Wal-Mart everymorning I see it going on there more then anywhere else.

    I have come to dread walking into wal-mart most mornings now since with every major DVD release there's some new display waiting to greet me at the front door. Now while this doesn't sound too bad it quickly starts to get my blood boiling since inevidably a quick glance at the display confirms my suspision that the front will be covered with Pan & Scan versions of the movie with the widescreen version hidden either on the back or on the bottom row where you have to hunt to find it. This morning I was greeted buy two new for Ice Age which was exactly as I described above and one for Men in Black II which was even worse. For MiBII they had a smaller square display that had the cropped version on the visible sides and the widescreen copies on the back what made it worse was that they'd shoved the display into a corner which meant in order to get a copy in widescreen you had to reach around to the back and blindly grab a copy in hopes it wasn't pan and scan :evil: I asked the girl working in electronics why they'd done that and her answer was so that customers don't trip over they couldn't have rotated it a little so at least you could see the widescreen versions.

    I got into a discussion last week with the dept. head about why they insist on showing the same version on all their TV's even though they have a nice Samsung widescreen TV. I said why wouldn't you try to show off the more expensive TV with the progressive scan player they have sitting there to show customers what the real benefits of the TV are instead of showing the same feed though all the TV's...his answer was that if someone asked he'd connect the other that's going to happen :evil: I knew then that there wasn't a hope in hell of getting though to these people how much damage they are doing to the perception of widescreen...I mean for the average joes perspective why bother with a widescreen TV is its still got these big black bars on it and the image looks stretched out?

    I wonder how much depends on the department staff or if this is directed behavior from higher up in the companies? I've heard Wal-Mart is one of the biggest companies to lean on Hollywood to release P&S so maybe this comes from the which case we're doomed since without eduction from the employees to customers we'll be fighting an uphill battle for years to come.

    PS Given the display practices in these stores I now don't put much faith in the sales figures for widescreen vs P&S in these stores...I mean if the distribution isn't equal its a tainted study...that said from my anacdotal evidence there's usually more empty spaces where the widescreen movies are then the pan and that might be that they're out numbered 5 to 1 so the total volume is similar but it goes to show that even when hidden people are still seeking out the widescreen versions.

  • Brandon B
    Super Senior Member
    • Jun 2001
    • 2193

    Our Walmart does some of the things you describe, and orders significantly more P&S copies as well.

    BUT, they sell out of the widescreen on major releases typically by noon on release day.

    So the public is not totally clueless. And since Walmart is about giving the people what they want, they will surely notice this.

    Interestingly, the people in the video department at our Walmart are actually of reasonable intelligence.



    • George Bellefontaine
      Moderator Emeritus
      • Jan 2001
      • 7637

      Education, education, education. Not only for the Wallyworlds and staff, but for the consumer in general. And the place to do the educating is on television. They simply show a split screen with P&S on one side and WS on the other and showing by example what P&S viewers are missing on their movies Problem is, who will pay for the commercials ? Maybe WS tv mfgrs should get together and pay for them as a group.

      Now talking about what sells (rents) the most, I am reminded of a recent vist to Blockbuster to rent Spiderman. They had 30 titles for rent. Half were P&S and half were WS. On this day, all the widescreen titles were out and there were 7 copies of the P&S editions available to rent. Doesn't that say something ?

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      • Burke Strickland
        • Sep 2001
        • 3161

        Although some things may be the same in the chain all across the continent, in some ways, the practices appear to differ store to store. Different managers, different employees implementing the policies, perhaps.

        When my local WalMart was running a special on the SpiderMan DVD, the display was right up front near the main entrance and WS and P&S were both on the front side of the display with some locally produced (hand lettered) signs pointing to each.

        Last time I was in the local neighborhood WalMart's video section about two weeks ago, I overheard a clerk, an older woman, (not an X-gen computer geek), telling a customer correctly why he should get the widescreen version instead of the so-called "full screen" version of the movie he was looking for -- you get more of the picture instead of the sides being chopped off, so even though you get the black bars and it looks like part of the TV screen isn't being used, actually you are getting the whole movie instead of just part of it. And the customer agreed with her that was a good thing. I said (to myself) "hooray! There is still some hope". :>)


        What you DON'T say may be held against you...


        • Chris D
          Moderator Emeritus
          • Dec 2000
          • 16877

          Damn the man... go anamorphic widescreen. :banghead:

          Luke: "Hey, I'm not such a bad pilot myself, you know"

          Well, we're safe for now. Thank goodness we're in a bowling alley.
          - Pleasantville


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