Monday, March 23, 2009

Classic movie DVDs available from Warner Bros.

As part of a plan to squeeze all it can out of its film library, Warner Bros. Entertainment will sell vintage movies previously unreleased on DVD directly to the public for $19.95 each.

"Once Upon a Honeymoon," the 1942 movie with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, and "Possessed," the 1931 movie with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, are among the titles consumers can buy directly from the Website of the Warner Archive Collection, starting today.

Many of the titles were among a group the studio originally planned to release through regular retail channels, but as retail space devoted to DVDs declines, the studio decided to try a new approach. Remastering the movies for DVD release took anywhere between a few weeks to two years, with the older, silent films requiring the most work because they are on highly fragile nitrate film.

To keep down costs associated with creating and warehousing DVDs, Warner has licensed an independent company to produce each DVD on demand. The customer will get the disc by mail, complete with cover art, within five days. Alternatively, customers can purchase a digital download of the movie for $14.95.

DVDs have experienced declining sales in recent years. Warner hopes to tap into an unfilled demand for classic titles that haven't been available on DVD. Many titles, such as 1949's "John Loves Mary" with Ronald Reagan and 1951's "Goodbye My Fancy" with Joan Crawford, weren't on VHS tape either. But a few titles are available on pirate Web sites that sell bootleg DVDs, likely made from television screenings of the movies, giving Warner all the more incentive to cut itself in on the action.

The studio's feature-film library contains about 6,800 films, of which only 1,200 have been released on DVD and 4,100 on VHS tape.

The service aims squarely at the over-40 set who enjoy building up physical collections of DVDs and will be familiar with the titles. A few titles might appeal to younger groups, such as the 1975 action film "Doc Savage," which has comic-book crossover appeal. The service is launching with 150 titles, and will add 20 or so each month. (info from The Wall Street Journal)

No comments: