Friday, May 29, 2009

Strange Warner Archive News

Without any fanfare, classic film DVDs in Warner Archive packaging have begun turning up at Amazon, marked as " Exclusive."

Titles include THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE (1940) and THE MALE ANIMAL (1942); the latter was briefly reviewed here.

These "Amazon exclusives" in Warner Archive packaging are not listed at the Archive site itself, where films sell for $19.95.

The Warner "Exclusive" DVDs on sale at Amazon are priced at...are you ready?...$28.98 per title.

Assuming these DVDs are identical in format to other Archive movies, that $28.98 won't even get you chapter selections!

As chronicled here, the Archive shows promise as a way to get many movies which otherwise wouldn't see DVD release into the hands of consumers. However, some concerns are growing. For instance, contrary to Warner Bros.' pledge that the Archive would not impact their retail program, announcements of new classic film releases for the coming months have come to a standstill. The announcement of WAGON MASTER (1950) for a September release was thus especially welcome news. But where are any other boxed sets, including the promised Film Noir Volume 5 Collection?

The pricing of $19.95 has also been a major concern for collectors who are accustomed to buying a set of five films, complete with extensive extras, for a far, far lower price than the $100 it would now take to buy five films from the Archive.

Given that $19.95 is at the very top end of being reasonable for a "plain vanilla" release with no chapter selections and often no trailer included, the price of $28.98 for a single DVD strikes me as completely ridiculous.

This pricing is a bit reminiscent of the VHS market of roughly three decades ago, before videos were priced for "sell-through" to home consumers; does anyone else remember the short-lived bad old days when videos were mostly bought by rental companies and were priced for around $75? This isn't quite that bad, but they sure seem to be trying to push the top edge of the price envelope.

A discussion on this topic has been taking place at the Home Theater Forum, starting on Page 59 of the Warner Archive thread. Post 1782 lists a few more titles in Archive packaging which have been found at Amazon.

The latest title announced for the Warner Archive is FOUR'S A CROWD (1938), reviewed here.

Previously: The Warner DVD Archive; Report on Home Theater Forum/Warner Bros. DVD Live Chat; Great News for Maverick Fans; Tonight's Movie: Private Lives (1931); New Warner Archive Releases Announced; More Warner Archive Releases; Even More Great New Warner Archive Titles.

Saturday Update: Thanks to Raquel for the information that Warner Archive DVDs are now being sold at the Turner Classic Movies site. They are selling for $17.99 ("was $19.99"). Thus far I have only found titles available at TCM which are also available at the Archive site.

I'd also like to publicly state once again that Warner Archive desperately needs to overhaul its messy website, and in particular have an area where consumers can clearly track the latest releases as they occur. Having 50 titles under "New Releases," many of them dating to the program's inception, is no help whatsoever.


Blogger Missy said...

Well, they couldn't get me to bite at $19.95, so they are certainly NOT getting me at $28.98. Get REAL!


10:19 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Did you see that TCM is announcing these as part of their "TCM Vault" collection and selling most of them at $17.99? I'm so confused by all of this!

5:08 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I had no idea about the TCM sales, Raquelle. I'll look into that.

Warner Archive really needs to get its act together. Its target consumers are often fairly well informed about the DVD market. Having the program "redefined" within its first weeks, with Archive DVDS *not* available at the Archive but at other sales outlets, at disparate prices, is crazy-making.

Thanks for the info!

Best wishes,

8:39 AM  
Blogger Gary Morris, ed. said...

Very well said, Laura. Their website is awful. How about the "Vote" link, where, since the site's inception, they say you can vote on the films you want released, but they only list the same four options. There's nowhere to actually tell them what you want.

And you're right, the pricing is absurd given the bare-bones releases, and the fact that they won't play on a DVD recorder, only a DVD player.

While WB deserves kudos for the concept, the execution has been just plain bad.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Gary.

Let's hope WB is listening to those of us who would like to patronize their program and that they'll be making the improvements to make it happen.

Best wishes,

10:58 PM  

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