Less than a decade after its entry into the market the DVD has already affected media production strategies, legal and economic policy, marketing and distribution, and audience reception habits. Decisions on style and content made during the shooting of film and television programs (or in some cases, decisions made after the shooting) increasingly take into consideration the possibilities of cross-media consumption. Short forms such as making-of documentaries and other bonus features have become increasingly visible in recent years. Rereleases, commemorative editions, director's cuts, and television series sets present further sources of revenue for media companies and new marketing challenges. Direct-to-consumer sales and the ability to target specialized audiences have created lucrative markets for otherwise marginal films and television programs and have affected habits of consumption. Film and media scholars are in turn presented with new material for research and debate.
Our focus in this issue on the DVD format was motivated by the success it has achieved since its relatively recent introduction. The first feature films on DVD appeared in Japan in December 1996 (The Assassin, Blade Runner, Eraser, and The Fugitive from Warner Home Video). In the United States Warner Brothers introduced DVD titles on 24 March 1997, but the introduction was limited to seven cities. Surpassing studio expectations, almost 19,000 discs were purchased in the first two weeks of the U.S. introduction, and by December 1997 over 1 million DVD discs had been shipped, while the number of titles climbed to 530. Today, all movies that appear in theaters are released on DVD (Bakalis A1), with sales continuing to thrive. It would appear that the DVD is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.
The articles and interviews in this issue examine the practices of media production and consumption that have grown around the DVD during the brief period since its introduction onto the U.S. market. Producers have found in the DVD a means of retaining or expanding existing markets and an opportunity to develop new ones. Consumers have recognized a chance to exert some control of their own, using their purchasing power in stores and online to assert forms of social and cultural identity. The DVD poses new challenges for scholars in the field as well, forcing them to keep pace with the ongoing transformation of the landscape of media and culture industries. The writers, interviewers, and interviewees in this issue attempt to chart these critical negotiations with the new technology.
Examining a recent trend in DVD production, Craig Hight explores the role of the making-of documentary as a central feature of DVD extras. Hight analyzes how narratives constructed within this subgenre of documentary work to remediate the cinematic texts they accompany. Hight's work draws from Robert Brookey and Robert Westerfelhaus's analysis of the 2000 two-disc Fight Club DVD, in which these scholars argue that the MOD creates an "interpretive frame" and "preferred reading" for the text whose production it documents (Brookey and Westerfelhaus). While finding the concept of interpretive frames to be indispensable for the analysis of making-of texts, Hight suggests that their production becomes more complicated on DVDs where the MOD is not structured as a single text with an overarching linear narrative but instead as separate segments scattered across the disc. Arguing that the study of MODs on DVD needs to be understood in relation to the distinctive forms of engagement that the medium affords its users, Hight invokes Lev Manovich's theories of database construction to explain [End Page 1] how interpretive frames may be produced using multiple pathways to navigate short-segment MODs. Taking Peter Jackson's three-disc, special edition LOTR DVD set as his primary object, Hight pursues a close study of how the database interface structures the production of several key interpretive frames for the trilogy and offers a theoretical model for future analysis of making-of texts on other special edition DVDs.
Taking up the politics of archival practice, Nathan Carroll's essay analyzes three case studies of DVD "restoration demonstrations": The Eternal Frame, La Dolce Vita, and The Passion of Joan of Arc. In each he looks at different means by...