Article: Why Twilight Time Releases Are Relevant

Guest writer Sean Provost examines why Twilight Time is relevant for home video releases.

In 2011, the 1985 cult horror film Fright Night finally surfaced on Blu-Ray.  However, many fans were bemoaning the fact that it sold out overnight due to a limited pressing of only 3,000 units.  Soon other classics such as Wild at Heart and the remake of The Blob followed, only to go up in smoke with the same limited releasing pattern.  The distribution label came to be known as Twilight Time and quickly gained notoriety in the Blu-Ray collecting community, inciting celebration and condemnation from cineastes in equal measure.  While the average Blu-Ray purchaser will undoubtedly raise an eyebrow when you ask them if they know what Twilight Time is, the company in fact advertises heavily on Facebook via SAE Screen Archives Entertainment as well as horror film magazines and DVD/Blu-Ray websites.  The catch is, in addition to the limited edition releasing model, all of their content is sold exclusively through Screen Archives Entertainment and when particular items sell out, buyers then turn to eBay and find themselves paying top dollar (up to $100 in some cases) for their most wanted Blu-Ray.

As the releases of Enemy Mine and the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead approached, I began to take heed and researched what has quickly become one of my favorite labels to date. With studios in fear of losing profits to more DVD/Blu-Ray releases as well as online downloading, they backed off of releasing more niche titles that would cost them more than they would gain. In so doing, third party distribution labels began surfacing. Thank the Cinema gods! Financed by film industry veterans Brian Jamieson and Nick Redman on their own terms, Twilight Time has given film fans and collectors the opportunity to own and revisit many films we love as well as open the floodgates to many that we might otherwise not know of.  Adding the finishing touches to the package are the elegant Miss Julie Kirgo, providing greatly detailed summaries and essays to every release within the 8 page booklet included with the Blu-Ray and Louis Falzarano’s eclectic sleeve design.

Having struck deals with 20th Century Fox and Sony Columbia/TriStar since their Fall 2011 inception, Twilight Time announced two new studio deals in 2013.  Nick Redman confirmed a deal with MGM in September 2013 including all the United Artists catalog, MGM titles from 1986 to the present, and all of the titles released through Cannon, Polygram, and Orion.  Additionally, Twilight Time announced its first international deal in October 2013 with Protagonist Pictures. Their initial DVD releases began in March 2011 with The Kremlin Letter before debuting their first Blu-Ray with the 1954 Michael Curtiz directed classic The Egyptian quickly becoming a best seller for the company.  For a smaller third party label that distributes and sells official transfers of movies, it’s a bold stamp on the DVD/Blu-Ray community forums, like their releasing format or not. 

In October 2012 Twilight Time became the subject of controversy in the Blu-Ray community when they released Tom Savini's remake of Night of the Living Dead.  Selling out within a week, the transfer wasn’t up to par in the eyes of many, notably regarding a blue tint which altered daytime scenes in the beginning of the film.  Causing something of an uproar, the situation surrounding Night of the Living Dead forced Twilight Time to take a more hands on approach to their content.  After consulting with Sony Pictures Entertainment's mastering department regarding the issue, it was confirmed the changes were made for the remake's 20th Anniversary under the consultation with the film’s director of photography, Frank Prinzi.  Tom Savini was initially unaware of the changes made to the color scheme and after viewing the Blu-ray himself he gave the new video transfer his blessing, calling it "fantastic”.

As sales for Twilight Time began picking up steam and it became customary for discs to be sold on eBay once they were acquired from Screen Archives Entertainment, the label imposed purchasing caps on high profile titles.  Half of the stock was sold before further limiting the quantity to one each, including their release of John Carpenter’s Christine.  While some titles will of course sell out quicker than others with titles such as Walter Hill’s The Driver and Hard Times still up for sale on the website, dwindling numbers of units will ensure that those will inevitably sell out too.  Understandably consumers are going to complain about their favorite films being held hostage by Twilight Time.  For example, competitors like Kino Lorber acquired the DVD rights to Wild at Heart but Twilight Time still retains the Blu-Ray distribution rights.  However, those same complaints often fail to see the bigger picture at large, that it is miraculous a third party company found a way to release these studio classics in high definition physical media at all.

Arguably one of the most diverse third party labels in existence, Twilight Time has managed to cover many genres from Westerns, melodramas, noirs, comedies, musicals, sci-fi, horror, cult, fantasy, suspense, drama, action, foreign language films and much, much more!  You could even suggest Twilight Time has reached the same status as prestigious labels such as The Criterion Collection by announcing as many as six new titles per month despite Criterion’s thirty year seniority over Twilight Time.  In response to naysayers’ complaints about the aptly named “scalpers” who lie in wait to snatch up as many copies as possible for their own gain via eventual eBay sales, Twilight Time revised their sales platform by limiting the quantity of units of one per customer as opposed to the usual three.  Further still, Twilight Time broke their rollout model with a few high-demand titles by re-releasing them with additional extras and further remastering of the video transfer, as with the recently unveiled 30th Anniversary Edition of Fright Night.

Lastly, in addition to porting over whatever preexisting DVD extras they can to the Blu-Ray with some extras of their own included as well as providing an isolated score on nearly every one of their releases, Twilight Time presents a unique offer to their most loyal customers.  Once or twice per month, the company will offer an autographed copy of a title with the purchase of four titles or an out-of-print title with the purchase of five titles, a unique incentive sure to bring die-hards back for more!  All in all, though still in its infancy and the ongoing topic of heated debate in the home video community, Twilight Time has made its presence known as a Blu-Ray distribution label for the film fan and collector.  As other titles fall into the public domain hands of Mill Creek Entertainment or Echo Bridge, with inferior transfers often presented in the incorrect aspect ratio, weaker sound mastering and a lack thereof in extras, Twilight Time is an elite home video company dedicated to bringing consumers the best possible versions of niche titles they can provide that would otherwise be overlooked and forgotten by the studios which produced them in the first place!  While the limited edition releasing model is indeed problematic, that a third party label has been able to release these films at all is nothing short of miraculous!

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-Sean Provost
-edited by Andrew Kotwicki