DVD label Twilight Time launches next month with a unique angle and business model that caters to the niche market that loves old film music.
The company’s approach is based in part on the success that 20th Century Fox has had with its limited-edition soundtrack series. Its first title, John Huston’s 1970 film “The Kremlin Letter,” will be released Jan. 25, with a new title to follow each month.
Subsequent titles — all from Fox — will include “Violent Saturday,” “Fate Is the Hunter,” “April Love” and “The Egyptian,” some of which sport scores by film-music greats such as Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith.
Twilight Time is the brainchild of Nick Redman, a longtime Fox music consultant and producer who has overseen the restoration of more than 500 soundtrack albums, and Brian Jamieson, who spent 30 years at Warner Bros., overseeing hundreds of video restorations including the films of Stanley Kubrick.
The duo has come up with a plan to release dozens of Fox films, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s, all previously unreleased in the U.S. Each will be available in a 3,000-copy limited edition, with an “isolated score” feature that will appeal to music fans, and only through a single outlet: screenarchives.com, which bills itself as the world’s largest independent distributor of movie music on CD.
“What we are doing now with DVD is borne out of what we were doing with soundtracks,” says Redman. “Fox was the first studio to use the limited-edition model as the basis for the release of its classic soundtracks.”
The studio negotiated the groundbreaking 1997 deal with the American Federation of Musicians to reduce its rates for album payments to studio musicians, and the result has been a flood of old soundtracks from every studio — mostly in batches of 3,000 or less, designed to appeal to movie-music buffs eager to buy obscure scores by the likes of Herrmann, Alfred Newman and John Williams.
Twilight Time hopes to cash in on that market, by providing a music-only track that will function as a kind of “soundtrack” where there isn’t one available; and to release catalog items of little interest to the mass market but sought-after by film buffs.
And, unlike the current trend of no-frills special-order releases of catalog titles by other studios, each disc will be factory-pressed and accompanied by an 8-page booklet with a new essay, stills and poster art.
“We are attempting to fill that void for collectors,” Jamieson says. “If we’re successful in getting out 100 titles from Fox, then it’s a realistic business model, and worth about $300,000 to the studio. That’s small change in the big picture, but it’s worth it from a PR point of view — providing a service to the cineastes.” (Criterion and Shout! Factory also license catalog titles from Fox.)
Redman notes that the studio’s music preservation efforts have proven profitable — not just in digitally restored music for DVDs and in the soundtrack arena, but also in sublicensing the music for commercials, trailers and sampling in contemporary records.
Jamieson also says that if the Fox model is successful, Twilight Time will seek similar licensing pacts with other studios.