Originally Posted by bruceames
I agree that Blu-ray is a specialized format and for most consumers is overkill when it comes to older content. That's why it's been a long road for mainstream adoption for the format as a whole. Here we are nearly 6 years in and still around a 24% share. That says a lot about the difficultly it has at replacing DVD in all its forms.
It's true that TV on Netflix or on your hard drive is much more convenient than a 5 season set with 30 discs to swap out. It's a pain to remember where you were when you leave the series and come back several months later, as by then the player will have erased the position memory.
So then you're left with those consumers who feel Blu-ray's better quality is worth the extra hassle of dealing with discs, and those are in a minority. Although with disc you also get special features and sub/audio options and never have to worry about availability. It can be risky to watch a series on Netflix only to see it pulled before you finish.
With older content the problem is, and always will be, the trade off of having more grain to go with higher resolution. Most consumers would probably rather get DVD resolution and lose the grain, so you get the "problem" of having too much resolution. Fortunately though, a larger than normal percentage of consumers that like older movies (because they're cinephiles) also appreciate higher resolution and realize that grain is the nature of the beast, so we still get classic movie releases although not nearly on the same scale as DVD. Adding to that is that most of these classics were just released on DVD in the later years of the format and the same consumers who bought them are not interested in double dipping so soon.
Of course the tent pole and popular classics will get better treatment but for the most part, the older movies are being released by small distributors such as Kino or Criterion. Of the 44 pre-1950 movies released last year, only 4 came from the major studios.
I really agree with you here. The really long tail of classic movies are an issue for Blu-ray release for a number of reasons at this point in time.
The first issue is that for pre 1970 titles they have less commercial consumer demand so in general terms they will see more units when the Blu-ray user base is larger. Then as you stated many classics had more recent DVD release so there is fear of re releasing too soon. Then you have the serious issue of source material preservation and status and if the content makes sense to restore or would show well on HD.
Pretty much its certain that all of the $100 box office titles will get a Blu-ray release and we are 80% there already. For the 10,000 titles that
With much of that older long tail stuff the DVD results were modest and for some titles it still is now only in release in some MOD program like the Warner Archive
For the 5000 theatrical movies that ever got more than a modest $4 million in box office performance those are pretty certain to get a Blu-ray release over time as well.
DVD has had about 23,200 theatrical releases about 16,500 pre 1997 catalog and 6700 current release post 1997 titles according to the DVD RR. Most of the post 1997 titles will probably be economically viable for a Blu-ray release regardless of source materials for their recent nature.
The real question is not whether or not the more economically viable better box office performing titles or the more recent titles will be a Blu-ray release, most probably will.
The issue is more on how deep and how much cleanup the deeper catalog titles will have if they ever are released on Blu-ray as those lesser performing and older classic titles are just not going to sell as much units as the better box office performing and more recent stuff.
Blu-ray manufacturing on demand in the future is also certainly possible and some studios may license out more distribution for that deeper library stuff as Blu-ray is getting cheap enough to replicate or duplicate to support low unit breakeven sales model. But that's always going to be easier to do when the Blu-ray ownership base is longer for the niche demand stuff. But its tough for really old stuff to get a studio champion for early release, unless its almost a labor of love as no one is going to fall on his sword for the really old stuff that would not have a projected demand. That naturally would fall in the release cycle after the more productive stuff is released.
I hope more of the deep catalog stuff gets released over time as well and its also a concern of mine. I'm not worried so much about the more viable stuff, that will make money and probably get a Blu-ray release, its the long tail stuff and the restoration and care in release that's still a concern of mine and others I talk to as well. Its good to see any releases in those genres and older 1950 stuff that I wonder about.
Some Blu-ray classics I know about in the past few years sold more than enough to cover their release and restoration costs but there was thoughts that some would have benefited to have been released later when the Blu-ray user base was larger. That's getting better all the time though so the situation is improving.