DVD players and movies in New Zealand

Robyn Carter
Copyright December 2002

{Editor's note: This article was originally written for the NZ Cochlear Implant Newsletter, Christmas 2002 issue. Robyn offered this article to the SWC Online Voices to give people a glimpse at the differences between the USA and NZ with DVDs.]

I have been asked to write about DVD players and movies available here in New Zealand for the current newsletter. It's a subject close to my heart as an avid collector of classic movies on DVD. I bought my DVD player 2.5 years ago and I still think it's the best thing I've ever bought. At a time when the players were still $1200 to $1500 each, I managed to pick up mine for $800 - a Sanyo. It's not the long slimline fancy one, and it doesn't have any extra features such as Karaoke, nor does it bring me breakfast in bed. It is simply a model where you put the DVD in and press play. But as I'm no singer I really didn't think I needed the Karaoke feature, however on hindsight, the breakfast in bed feature would have been good!!

I received the latest Noel Leemings junk mail in my letterbox yesterday and noticed that the DVD players are now selling for as low as $299 and $399. I always knew they would come down in price, but I just wasn't prepared to wait that long, and I certainly don't regret the use I have had out of it in the last few years.

The reason for my love of the DVD player is simply for the subtitles available. Nearly every DVD movie you rent or buy comes complete with a selection of spoken or written languages. When we first got the player it was fun to play with it, getting the movie to speak in French, and subtitled in Spanish. The funniest thing was I could still lipread the actors as they were talking in English with the French just dubbed over the top! The French language options has helped my daughter maintain A's in French at school too, but that was a bonus not thought about at the time of purchase.

2.5 years ago when I bought my DVD player, there was not a lot of choice on rental movies. Two shelves if lucky. However what was good was that I could rent a movie that was still playing at the cinema. So instead of paying $12 to go to the cinema, and only hearing 40 or 50% of the movie, I could rent it for $8 and get 100% of the movie with the captions. Now that DVD's are much more popular, somebody has stamped this practice out, and now I have to wait 4 to 6 months after the movie has finished at the cinema before I can rent it. This frustrates me incredibly, as it's the deaf that miss out once again. It's certainly not an equal opportunity practice because cinemas will not provide captions. However most rental outlets have a large selection of DVD movies available now so there is always something to watch!

If you are thinking of purchasing a DVD player to use for subtitled movies, keep the following in mind.

DVD movies are Zoned. Zone 1 is America, Zone 4 is NZ. Not sure what 2 and 3 are but suspect they are for England, and Asia, however I have rarely seen these zones in NZ.  By having a multi zone player you can play movies from any zone. Most of the DVD players here in NZ are Zone 4 players which means you can only play Zone 4 movies on it unless your have your DVD adjusted by putting in a special multi zone chip.

There are plenty of Zone 4 movies available to see in rental outlets and retail shops such as Central Park Interactive, The Warehouse and Whitcoulls etc. However you need to peruse the back of Zone 4 movies very carefully before you buy or rent them to make absolutely sure they have subtitles available.

This is a huge bugbear of mine. In America, Americans have the ADA (American Disability Act) in which all movies are required by law to be subtitled for the deaf. If they don't then it contravenes this law and they can be sued. Therefore just about all Zone 1 DVD movies will have subtitles and you can purchase these over the internet. The only problem with this is the exchange rate and delivery fee, which makes this an expensive way to go. A good site is http://www.dvd.com/movies/. Often you can get really good specials on this site buying the DVD movie for as low as $12 USD. The same movie here will sell for $40 or $50 dollars so sometimes - it's cheaper over the net. The problem is that you can often see a good movie to buy, then another one, then another one, then another one..... You can see the problem!

When NZ companies take these Zone 1 movies and copy them for a Zone 4, because NZ law does not require the subtitling, these companies involved will often skip this part to make it cheaper. They certainly don't make the DVD any cheaper because of it. So it's the company that makes the profit and once again the deaf miss out on the captions. Grrr!!

I have nearly 50 DVD movies in my collection so far. Mainly classics that can be watched over and over again. I usually buy mine in Real Groovy in Queen Street Auckland, or from Central Park Interactive. Real Groovy often has 2nd hand movies that I pick up slightly cheaper. I have never had problems with scratches as they check each disc very carefully before selling them. The good thing about Real Groovy and Central Park Interactive is they both have a buy back scheme so you can update your collection from time to time. Both these stores also have bonus schemes as well - such as buy 10 get the 11th free etc...

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the DVD is the ability to take out cartoon movies such as Monsters Inc. and Ice Age. Obviously impossible to lipread, the subtitles make it really worthwhile! I should also point out that the quality of the graphics on all movies, not just cartoons is excellent.

Now all I need is a bigger house so I can have my own home theatre that sits 25-30 people on tiered leather seats. The big screen at the front too! I would probably never visit another cinema again either. And if you do find that DVD player with the breakfast in bed option - please let me know!!!


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