Warner Archive Collection to revolutionize the DVD market

wb_burnOkay, I’m overselling it a bit in the headline, but it’s a smart idea.

Warner Brothers’ new Warner Archive Collection is a brand-new, just-launched-today DVD-on-Demand service featuring classic Warner Brothers movies never before released on DVD. Or, to be a little more blunt about it, a dumping ground for movies that the company doesn’t think have enough commercial appeal to merit a real DVD release — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In my cursory scan of the initial films, I hadn’t seen a single one and had only even heard of a handful of them (among them George C. Scott’s Rage and the 1975 Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze adaptation), but if you’ve managed to catch any of these at a revival theater, on VHS, or on cable (and didn’t record it) and wanted to own them in DVD-quality, this is your only option.

Sure, they’re rather overpriced at $19.95 apiece (with no bonus material at all, as far as I can tell) — and the option to buy the films as downloads would be preferable for at least some of us (so we can burn it ourselves), but this way we get pre-printed packaging… and have to wait about five days to get it. The site includes samples of each film to preview the video quality — but the ones I saw were still interlaced, which might confuse a few people; the quality should be very good.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner plans to build on the initial 150-some film inventory by 20 titles per month, so that more than 300 film and TV titles are available online by the end of 2009. Warner will also be starting up a podcast series available through iTunes called “The Golden Age of Hollywood,” which will feature archival interviews and other materials that would’ve probably been bonus material on proper DVD releases. Although the podcast will have even more limited appeal than the films in this collection, it’s a classy way to keep the DVDs as easy to produce as possible while still making the extra content available to those who care.

With any luck, WB will make a snug profit off of these movies that the other studios will follow their lead.

Posted on March 23, 2009 at 09:49 by Gordon@MovieMakeout · Permalink
In: News

3 Responses

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  1. Written by HeirToPendragon
    on 2009-03-23 at 13:15
    Permalink

    Now if only Disney did this I could finally see Songs of the South

  2. Written by Faye
    on 2009-03-24 at 00:42
    Permalink

    It hits a niche market.

    But speaking from experience working in a video store, it’s a niche market that’s willing to spend (assuming they can suck down their movie-goer pride for a format that is anything but ancient)

  3. Written by Mike Rouse-Deane
    on 2009-03-26 at 04:38
    Permalink

    I must admit this is a great way for Warner Brothers to make money on films that only a few may enjoy. I may rummage around and see if there are old classics I enjoy.

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