Theatrical and home video distributor Tartan USA has closed its doors.
This past week a public foreclosure sale put up for auction the company’s physical assest, right down to the office furniture in addiotin to the rights to the company’s 101 film library.
Tartan specialized in the release of Asian films, mostly genre fare which has a cult following here in the United States. They have been responsible for getting onto American video shelves such films as Battle Royale, Versus, R-Point, Shiri, The Happiness Of The Katakuris and Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance).
Tartan deserves some credit for trying to remind movie watchers that American films like The Ring and The Eye are nothing more than remakes of far better Asian films by relasing the superior originals on DVD. They also released several critically acclaimed, non-genre films including Black Book, Mister Lonely, Sping, Summer, Autumn, Winter… Spring and The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu.
I know that on my personal DVD shelf, there are several cases bearing the Tartan Video logo, so I report this with a bit of sadness. Even when I already owned a title on an imported DVD (An all Region DVD player is your best friend.) I would still pick up their release for what would be a strong transfer, invariably better subtitling and some interesting extras. I’m not all that surprised, though disappointed, by the news, though. At the best of times, it is tough for a specialty boutique like Tartan to be able to turn a healthy profit when they are marketing to such a small segment of the DVD buying public. In more recent years, shelf space in regular brick and mortar stores has become more scarce for smaller companies like Tartan. Corporate giants flood your local Best Buy with dozens of copies of their latest releases that invariably sit unsold, taking up display space that could be going towards product from Tartan and other smaller companies.
It is not known who, if anyone, purchased their library of films. Hopefully whomever has them now will show the films the same respect that Tartan did. Those are big shoes to fill.
Via Kaiju Shakedown.