Artwork’s getting ugly- would you like to know more?

STARSHIP4KWell as if horrible remakes, reboots and wrecking favourite franchises isn’t bad enough (nervous glance towards Amazon’s LOTR show coming September), it seems the studios are letting the talentless cretins with those devils-own typewriters loose on creating the artwork for physical releases of old movies now- anyone would think they deliberately want to sabotage physical disc sales to further excuse the continued push towards streaming/eventual PPV. Its a conspiracy worthy of an X-File: you can imagine some suit in six months saying “we released this fan-favourite movie on disc and no-one bought it! Physical media is dead etc etc!”

Just look at this steelbook release of Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers– surely one of the ugliest covers yet? You’d have to be a pretty hardcore fan to part with hard-earned for this. The unfortunate ‘twist’ for some will be that this re-release of an old 4K disc has Dolby Vision (the original ‘just’ has standard HDR10) which in theory could result in a better picture quality depending upon one’s set-up, but if a cover like this is intended to sway fans into a double-dip for said DV…. Well, I guess the hardcore could buy this and switch the disc into the case from the old release, maintain their self-respect that way…

lawrence4kIt seems that Blade Runner inexplicably NOT getting a physical re-release to celebrate its 40th Anniversary this year possibly has some consolation – at least we’re not getting some ugly art to pour salt on the wound of no new special features/all the cuts in 4K, no Dangerous Days doc finally in HD etc. 

Its like there is a parallel universe in the physical media community, in which Kino use original artwork for its covers and folks like Indicator likewise, with lovely books and packaging etc, and meanwhile the major studios are doing, er, THIS to some of the finest films ever made. I suppose the issue from their perspective is that some of these old, old favourites from those distant shores of the ancient 1980s/1990s (never mind the prehistory of the 1960s) is that they have been released several times over different formats and the artwork must be pretty tired by now. I don’t agree at all with that, I’m a huge fan of original artwork (I still grimace at that most recent release of Alien in 4K) but its clear that, whatever the boutique labels are doing, the studios have some problem these days with original artwork.


5 thoughts on “Artwork’s getting ugly- would you like to know more?

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    I’m finding it hard to worry too much about this now. These things sit on the shelf and the movies themselves are what counts. I’m similarly unexcited by Criterion’s fancy covers these days. The packaging seems irrelevant.

    It’s a bit weird that studios feel they have to re-do the artwork for every new release when they’ve already completely nailed it on an earlier one [Like ‘Jaws’ and ‘Close Encounters’ on Blu-ray].

    Alien hasn’t ever had a video release that uses the original poster, has it? Not since the VHS days…?

    But to play the game, yes – that Lawrence of Arabia steelbook was bizarrely ugly. Don’t mind the Starship Troopers one though. The earlier artworks were all ugly photo montages from the 90s anyway.

    1. Yeah I know where you’re coming from – the film’s the thing, really, not the box its in – but certainly the Indicator and those 4K Kino releases, they do look gorgeous on the shelf, and more collector’s pieces than the bargain-bin-looking things thrown out by the studios. I do draw the line at steenboks though, and I’m always amused by re-releases of re-releases in snazzy boxes or steels- indeed, I noticed there’s ANOTHER release of Carpenter’s The Thing coming out in another steel book. Anyone with multiple copies of essentially just the same disc but in a different box, that’s a level of collecting that strikes me as farce. At least the majority of my multiple copies of Blade Runner are in different formats (VHS, DVD etc). At least I was spared the temptation of another 4K release celebrating it 40th this year- it would have had to have been special to have me going for it.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    Steelbook collecting is mad. The Zavvi crowd are certifiably bonkers sometimes.

    And yet… a really nice Steelbook is very handsome thing, if it’s done right and comes out at the same time as the vanilla release: the ‘Jaws’ blu-ray of the original art, and the Arrow ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978)’ one – they were absolutely beautiful.

    And I did recently sell off my Indiana Jones 4K box to fund buying the Steelbooks of the first 2 films – just so I could have only those two, in lovely editions.

    So I’m a bit far gone myself.

    1. Well, I try my best -I treasure those Jaws and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers steel books myself, its funny though, that they used original poster art and these days most steels go with the oddest art imaginable (have you seen the new steel for The Thing that’s coming out? Ye Gods).

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