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Has Warner Archive Slowed down the commercial releases of WB classic movies


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Is it just me or has anyone noticed that more time and energy has gone into releasing Warner Archive DVDs to the point where there are hardly any commercial releases - usually in Sept and Oct we get tons of Warner titles

The big ones are the Wizard of Oz set, the Karloff/Lugosi set and a few scattered titles here and there but in a chat with a Warner rep we were supposed to get Film Noir Volume 5, an Abbott and Costello set, The Green Slime (ok its not a classic but it has a cult following) among others but so far there is nothing.

Even though I like the WB Archives and I have guessed right on picking movies I have liked for the most part, I wish they would release some good sets or titles commercially. I think some of the Archive titles would have done well commercially like Doc Savage & a set with The Verdict, The Unsuspected ...

Basically this is more of an observation, not so much a complaint. I have nothing against the Archives at all. I am happy to see movies coming out, but it just seems to me like there is a ton of more focus on the WB archives than commercially releasing some sought after movies. And if some of those titles were released commercially I would think that we'd get better transfers and a few more bonus features ..

What do you guys and gals think ? Too much Archive ? Not enough ?

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I don't know, I think there are still quite a few classic releases this year, especially considering the economy. I mean, the releases would have probably slowed down as the economy slowed down, even if the Warner Archive Collection (WAC) hadn't been launched when it did.

 

In any event, we're still getting anniversary reissues of The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and North by Northwest, as well as a 2nd volume of Esther Williams from Warner Home Video (in addition to the hundreds of titles from WAC). Then Sony Pictures is releasing a set of film noir, a set of Rita Hayworth, and a Samuel Fuller set; and I think Universal is going to release the Claudette Colbert set. Plus, Disney re-issues 1937's Snow White (and on blu-ray for the 1st time).

 

There's the handful of releases from Criterion, and, if you're a Beatles fan, the blu-ray version of A Hard Day's Night that is only available in Canada.

 

Overall, I think there's still quite a few classic movies that have been released this year. Maybe without the economic slowdown, there would have been a few more.

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It's not you, it's a fact. Among the reasons:

 

1. Sales of DVDs are not what they had been, for several reasons, including the economy and alternate means of program distribution that are more convenient and less expensive, such as rental and on-demand cable/satellite services. In general, the acquisition and storage of physical objects as a means for satisfying one's need for entertainment programming is on the way out.

 

2. The market base for older films is shrinking, both from the dying off of older viewers and changing preferences of the general audience.

 

3. The expense of preparing older films to present in the quality we've come to expect from Warner. Most people have no idea how expensive it is - well into six figures per film. It involves locating prime film elements, restoring them photographically, then assembling them. What really happens is that often the films must be entirely re-edited, assembled anew from the jigsaw puzzle of individual shots, optical transitions and sound elements, themselves often their own jigsaw puzzle. And then the creation of supplemental bonus features that people have come to expect: newly-produced featurettes, audio commentaries, etc.

 

4. By now, Warner has already issued the bulk of what is most commercially viable from their back library. Note that I don't say "the best" or "most sought-after by classic film specialists," but what has the most appeal to the biggest percentage of an already small market segment. Films featuring stars whose names still have some recognition value, individual films that have still have some familiarity.

 

The most interesting aspect of this is how it will play out as we move (inevitably) toward information network distribution as the dominant, if not exclusive, means of program distribution. Will it mean, as some confidently predict, that everything that everybody wants, no matter of what limited appeal, will eventually be available at any time at the click of a button?

 

Edited by: tterrace on Oct 3, 2009 9:58 AM

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> {quote:title=tterrace wrote:}{quote}

> In general, the acquisition and storage of physical objects as a means for satisfying one's need for entertainment programming is on the way out.

 

While I would certainly agree that technological developments would suggest we should be moving in that direction, I've come across a lot of statements from people in the industry that many people still feel more comfortable with something tangible, like a shiny plastic disk, than something that just resides in a hard drive somewhere or is being streamed as they watch it.

 

Besides, people are getting used to high definition now, and from what I understand it's still not technologically feasible to distribute movies online in a HD format with the current network of broadband.

 

On a more general note, I also agree that home video sales have been flat in recent years, and that they probably would have been on a downward trend even in the absence of a major financial meltdown.

 

Having said that, I do think that online delivery methods will continue to make inroads, though just how fast may be difficult to predict. It's possible that an unforeseen or unanticipated technological development could suddenly accelerate the trend.

 

In theory, there should be greater convenience for the consumer in a system where physical items like disks weren't necessary to have access to a movie library on demand. I suppose we may get there yet, but it's also possible that some kind of physical format, like a blu-ray or a future equivalent, may continue to exist alongside other delivery systems.

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> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote}

> While I would certainly agree that technological developments would suggest we should be moving in that direction, I've come across a lot of statements from people in the industry that many people still feel more comfortable with something tangible, like a shiny plastic disk, than something that just resides in a hard drive somewhere or is being streamed as they watch it.

 

Boy, I sure do. What's not often mentioned in discussing the move from physical media to network distribution is that in exchange for convenience, consumers are giving up a good deal of control. Right now, once you have a DVD in your possession, you'll always have access to its content. If your only access is online, the distributor could alter, adulterate or even remove it. Alter by removing things that were, for example, the subject of new litigation like copyright conflicts, or controversial content; adulterate by adding logos or scrolling promotional messages - after all the vast majority of the public puts up with that already.

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Well, that's a good point, too.

 

I hadn't truly realized how easily the rights situation of a movie could change until tcmprogrammr said in these forums the other day that a rights dispute or something had arisen in relation to White Banners, a movie that I had previously watched on TCM (probably within the last 18 months or so).

 

Folks who've already recorded it can watch it any time they want. But for those who may want to watch it in the future, well, it's uncertain how long they might have to wait.

 

If the same situation had arisen in a scenario where movies were already being distributed digitally or online, then a movie that had long been available to watch would suddenly be pulled, without any real word on when or even if it will become available again.

 

So, yes, for that alone I can also feel that many folks, myself included, feel safer with a physical copy of the movie that we can hold on to.

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Well for me I like DVDs on my shelf and not movie on my hard drive..(thats why I have a TV)

Now I understand the economy, but even with the economy WB Archives has been cranking out titles now over 300...

I did forget to mention the Gone with the Wind set in my original post. I was aware of Sony and the other studios but this was only about Warner, how the Archives seem to have taken over and their commercial releases has plummeted. I do agree with sales and so forth being down, but I am sure those who bought Film Noirs 1-4 & other box sets would continue to do so

At any rate the feedback is really great to read & see what the thoughts are..

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Well, in regards specifically to WHV, I think it makes sense because they would figure that classic film collectors are very likely to be interested in the 3 major movies getting anniversary re-issues and/or titles now available from the WAC. (In my case, they'd be absolutely right).

 

It doesn't make sense to release too many other DVD boxsets because with so much product out there, the various movies and sets available could cannibalize sales of the others. And if the DVD boxsets don't sell well, it becomes harder for WHV executives to justify releasing more of them in the future.

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Wow, interesting question! Not sure! I used to be into wanting the hard thing in my hands, but more and more (as I get greyer) I'm just digging the on-demand thing, even though my cable doesn't have on-demand! But the idea of it is groovy. I would like archives that you can purchase, maybe online? Where you can store so many hours of programming, kind of like when you rent a storage space for your stuff. So if there are flix or shows that you know you just can't do without, they'll be there, like picking a DVD or VHS tape off your shelf.

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> {quote:title=markbeckuaf wrote:}{quote}

> Wow, interesting question! Not sure! I used to be into wanting the hard thing in my hands, but more and more (as I get greyer) I'm just digging the on-demand thing, even though my cable doesn't have on-demand! But the idea of it is groovy. I would like archives that you can purchase, maybe online? Where you can store so many hours of programming, kind of like when you rent a storage space for your stuff. So if there are flix or shows that you know you just can't do without, they'll be there, like picking a DVD or VHS tape off your shelf.

 

Well, my bet is that that the recording and storage devices of the future (and given the rate this technology is proceeding we all know how soon that can be) will be things that, in order to operate, must be accessible by a network, and thus accessible to content providers. They could send out signals to disable or remove content you've already purchased. Hey, Amazon already did it with the Kindle, and don't think the brouhaha that caused is the end of the story. An online archive like you speculate about would be even easier for them to control.

 

Edited by: tterrace on Oct 3, 2009 1:29 PM

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I just want the restored *THE BIG PARADE.* I could seriously care less if it's a Major release or through the Archive. If releasing it through Warner Archive will finally get the movie out there, than do it already! But do it in time for this Christmas. Don't fiddle around for another year promising a major release, and just like last year when we were promised the same thing nothing whatever comes of it.

 

The special features don't mean a dang thing to me, I rarely watch those anyway. But the least they could do is put it out on a Dual-Layer disc and process at Higher Bit-rate for maximum quality. I'll gladly pay a few dollars more for a type flight disc recorded on Dual-Layer media.

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I think one reason sales are not that great for older films on DVD...ever see an ad for one outside of TCM??? Well, I think I have seen one for the Wizard of Oz on regular TV, but that's a special situation.

And I don't buy the cost of advertising factor...there are so many cheap ads late at night, that even on national channels cost next to nothing...

 

I know, a bit off subject! ;)

 

From Barrrie Maxwell of the digital bits site...if you think it's bad with WB film releases...

 

*Much as fans may be unhappy with the reduced/altered output from Warners, the real disappointment is the Fox situation. The classic faucet has been effectively turned off and aside from some classic titles making the transition from DVD to Blu-ray, no new classic releases are apparently planned for the remainder of this year. Nor is there anything to suggest that a change in this approach will be forthcoming next year.*

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This is really too bad. Warner Bros. and Fox HAVE spoiled us, but there are still lots of films I would like to own. What about Jean Harlow's films? What about "A Guy Named Joe," "The Human Comedy," "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes," to name a few? I have ordered several of the made-to-order Warner Archives films, only because there is no other alternative. The quality of the print and of the sound varies greatly and I have been disappointed a couple of times.

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ziggyelman,

 

I couldn't agree more. Ad's for older movies are virtually non-existent. The films for the most part are not on Television, except for TCM. And many young people honestly have no concept of what even makes a good movie. They have grown up on garbage. How do they expect sales to be strong? If not for TCM, I would have gotten rid of cable a long time ago. There is virtually nothing I want to see out there. With 250 plus channels that's very hard to understand.

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joefilmone,

 

THE WIZARD OF OZ is only so well known because it's never been out of circulation. Most other classic films don't have that advantage.With respect, in many ways OZ is pretty overrated. So are most of the better known classics.

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> THE WIZARD OF OZ is only so well known because it's never been out of circulation. Most other classic films don't have that advantage.With respect, in many ways OZ is pretty overrated. So are most of the better known classics.

 

So are most of the movies that individual posters here (myself included) recommend.

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Hey, I just naturally resent any film that takes away from other deserving movies, or underscores the importance of others. Don't miss-understand. I like THE WIZARD OF OZ allot, but good heaves I have seen it 40 times! For many people it's the only classic film they have seen, and most of those people could not tell you one actor in it by name. Even Judy Garland. I'm not kidding. It's sad but true.

 

GONE WITH THE WIND to me is overrated. it is to long, and is pretty much impossible for me to sit through from start to finish. Yes I did buy the DVD release a few years ago.

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> {quote:title=gagman66 wrote:}{quote}

> ziggyelman,

>

> I couldn't agree more. Ad's for older movies are virtually non-existent. The films for the most part are not on Television, except for TCM. And many young people honestly have no concept of what even makes a good movie. They have grown up on garbage.

 

Amusingly, another cable station has been running a lot of '80s blockbusters that I saw in the multiplexes and after a steady diet of classics, it's amazing to me how bad some of those '80s films seem now.

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ChipHeartsMovies,

 

I probably should have used different terms. Sorry. THE WIZARD OF OZ is a great classic I won't argue. That being said, how many DVD releases has it already had? And now Blu-Ray.SNOW WHITE is coming out too. Those are about the only ads running not just on TCM for classic movies anyplace. Yeah the occasional Disney animated feature. That's about it.

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The most famous classics keep getting reissued partly because people keep buying them (doh!) and also because sometimes people like to upgrade to a new format (say, from DVD to blu-ray).

 

Sometimes the most profitable classic titles like The Wizard of Oz probably help offset less profitable releases of classic movies.

 

As for ads on TCM, I've also been seeing a lot of ads for the Esther Williams and William Castle collections.

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