Why Do We Have to Wait to Start the Friggin' Movie?

Why do we have to traverse an endless string of trailers, FBI warnings, promos, and menus before we can start watching a DVD or Blu-ray? You don't have to slog through any of that to play an iTune or CD, the music starts immediately, and that sort of instant gratification was true for every music format I've ever used. For some reason home video has always been riddled with various forms of advertising and warnings, though there weren't that many with VHS and Beta tapes, and you could always fast forward to the movie. DVDs were loaded up with a lot more crap, but you could click ahead to the final hurdle, the menu. I've never quite understood why we needed to see a menu, again, why can't the movie just start? Sure, menus are handy if you're looking for special features or commentaries, but the menu is usually just another time waster. I should never see a menu, unless I want to see a menu. I want to hit "play" and see the movie.

Movie companies are free to program discs any way they want, but the sheer bulk of material they pile on sometimes borders on abuse. Hey, we're paying customers, we either bought or rented the disc, why can't we just see the movie? It could take two or three minutes to get through all the clutter. I'd grant commercials on "free" TV, advertisers pay to support the programming, but it's unfair to burden paying customers with mandatory commercials on discs.

The problem has only been getting worse over the years, some Blu-rays won't let you skip the opening bits at all, and some won't allow you to skip quickly from one trailer to the next and jump to the menu. When you can't skip the trailers you can usually fast forward through them, and then get to the animated menu, which might take another 30 seconds to play out. Jumping through all those hoops could still take three or four minutes to get to the movie! Why do we have to put up with that?

I suppose the movie companies see programming discs with all this flotsam as an extension of their policy of showing trailers in movie theaters all these years, and we just sit there and take it. Now sure, some folks enjoy watching trailers and ads, and if they want them, the trailers should be on the disc for their viewing pleasure, but I don't want to be forced to endure them! Wouldn't it be a pleasure to just pop in a Blu-ray, hit "play," and start watching the movie? I own exactly one disc that starts immediately, there's no menu, company logos, trailers, FBI warnings, no nothing, It's the 2003 Led Zeppelin double DVD set that never came out on Blu-ray. It starts with the band's live Royal Albert Hall shows from 1970, and continues with different concerts for 5 hours and 20 minutes over the two discs. You can bring up the menus and find what you want, or never see the menus. All discs should work that way.

C'mon people, let's kick off a Movie Start letter writing campaign to make sure Blu-rays and DVDs get the film going right away!

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COMMENTS
trynberg's picture

I can't believe how bad this problem has become. I don't have any HD-DVDs like this...

David Vaughn's picture
Couldn't agree with you more!
Mister Leadfoot's picture

Cool, where do I write to? Or where do I sign for a petition?

malvrich's picture

Elby CLonedvd.

jjster6's picture

The movie studios work so hard to fight the pirates but stick it to the paying customers. It shows their arrogance and makes my blood boil. The experience is so bad I rent less and buy fewer movies.

Rob Sabin's picture
It's unfortunate, but the one consistent go-around I've seen for this is the hyper-pricey Kaleidescape movie server, which is set up to always bypass the pre-feature garbage and go straight to the main course. No dissing of that system intended here -- it's still the best of its ilk and has an amazing interface. But it's still a rich man's toy, despite years of attempts by Microsoft (with Windows Media Center software) and other media server companies to supplant it. We can't condone anyone breaking copyright to rip DVDs or Blu-rays to a hard drive with software like the Elby package mentioned above, but if a side benefit of a centralized drive-based video server is that you can x-out the menus and the FBI warning we all have memorized by heart, I can see that would be a powerful incentive.

What's with the FBI and Interpol warnings, anyway? They make everyone watch it, but the people who pirate copyrighted content for profit know they're breaking the law and don't care. I seriously doubt the warning has ever disincentivized anyone at all. Boy, would I like to have back that 10 seconds or so from every movie I've ever watched at home...

notabadname's picture

I have no problem with the menu. But it should load first, with no trailers or ads. Then at the menu, you can choose your experience as desired. I think complaining about a 30 second load to the disc menu is a little too indicative of America's growing "I want it now" mentality. And with many movies offering a theatrical version and a "director's cut" or "extended" version, I want to make that choice. If the movie plays automatically, then the disc software programmer is making that "version" choice for me. And it could take longer to stop playback and get to the alternate version than if the disc had just taken me to a menu. No to mention, it may be my second time with the disc, and this viewing is the one I want to watch with director's commentary. So "yes" to loading directly to the menu for me, and "no" to instant start of the feature. I can handle the 30 second delay.

Selachi60@yahoo.com's picture

I understand liability reasons of putting the FBI warnings (i,e. "They told you so" ) and what not before the movie however unskippable trailers are quite unnecessary and can be reserved for a spot within the meno. As for immediate starting movies I thought of the same scenario as notabadname in that with several different cuts of a movie, how would it determine which I'd like to view? Same scenario can be said of 3d and non 3d on the same disks and various soundtracks. Unlike CDs, video media have a ranging form of presentation that is sometimes all included on the same disk and to have the manufacturer arbitrary choose a default doesn't sound ideal.

In terms of solutions, I believe keeping the trailers in the features section of the menu or enabling settings within disc players that will default to the start of the movie (possibly with preconfigured settings). If it does remain, it should 100% be skippable at the very least. As for the FBI warnings and fines, again, I feel that is a necessary evil in that it may need to remain at the forefront of video media for liability reasons (Caution: Contents may be hot, Drink Responsibly, Playing this game may cause seizures, Wet Floor).

Also, to quote the article:

"...but it's unfair to burden paying customers with mandatory commercials on discs".

In this event one could argue the same thing regarding movies in the theater as well , which Steve touches upon in his last paragraph. For the sake of playing Devil's Advocate, how far will it go in terms of when the movie starts? Does the production company logo and movie studio logos get cut out too as those are usually flashed before the genuine "start" of a film.

utopianemo's picture

I also agree with notabadname's idea, and Steve, although I do agree with you(especially regarding unskippable movies), I don't feel Blu-Ray menu slogging is that excessive compared to past media. VHS tapes did allow FF but even so I remember many a movie night fast-forwarding for 3-5 minutes to get past the previews.

And even so, I personally feel commercial theaters are still the most aggregious offenders. When my wife and I saw Skyfall, we got there 20 minutes early. The movie "start time" was 10:00pm. After watching the theater chain's ads for 20 minutes, we had to sit through 26 extra minutes of trailers and cell-phone silencing messages.

I go to Apple Trailers or IMDB at least 3 times a week; I know what's coming out. If I go to a movie with a 10pm start time, it should start at friggin' 10pm.

utopianemo's picture

I also agree with notabadname's idea, and Steve, although I do agree with you(especially regarding unskippable movies), I don't feel Blu-Ray menu slogging is that excessive compared to past media. VHS tapes did allow FF but even so I remember many a movie night fast-forwarding for 3-5 minutes to get past the previews.

And even so, I personally feel commercial theaters are still the most aggregious offenders. When my wife and I saw Skyfall, we got there 20 minutes early. The movie "start time" was 10:00pm. After watching the theater chain's ads for 20 minutes, we had to sit through 26 extra minutes of trailers and cell-phone silencing messages.

I go to Apple Trailers or IMDB at least 3 times a week; I know what's coming out. If I go to a movie with a 10pm start time, it should start at friggin' 10pm.

utopianemo's picture

I also agree with notabadname's idea, and Steve, although I do agree with you(especially regarding unskippable movies), I don't feel Blu-Ray menu slogging is that excessive compared to past media. VHS tapes did allow FF but even so I remember many a movie night fast-forwarding for 3-5 minutes to get past the previews.

And even so, I personally feel commercial theaters are still the most aggregious offenders. When my wife and I saw Skyfall, we got there 20 minutes early. The movie "start time" was 10:00pm. After watching the theater chain's ads for 20 minutes, we had to sit through 26 extra minutes of trailers and cell-phone silencing messages.

I go to Apple Trailers or IMDB at least 3 times a week; I know what's coming out. If I go to a movie with a 10pm start time, it should start at friggin' 10pm.

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