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Why Are Criterion DVDs Expensive? [merged w/ "Criterion worth" thread]

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Why Are Criterion DVDs Expensive? [merged w/ "Criterion worth" thread]

Old 06-28-07, 12:31 AM
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Why Are Criterion DVDs Expensive?

I own some Criterion DVDs and I can say they're really of high quality. However I'm having a hard time collecting Criterion DVDs since they're usually out of my budget range. Don't you think Critetion DVD's are overpriced? Should they mark down their prices a little bit?
Old 06-28-07, 12:52 AM
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It's weird that no one has ever asked this before.
Old 06-28-07, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Salty
It's weird that no one has ever asked this before.
Are you trying to be sarcastic?!?
Old 06-28-07, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Ian Whitcombe
Are you trying to be sarcastic?!?
I think he was being perfectly serious
Old 06-28-07, 01:23 AM
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lol...well...i've tried to bring up this subject in the past many times and i always get "ohh Criterion will never be able to produce high quality dvds if they drop they prices etc.."

ppl just forget that IF criterion dropped their price AND THEY WILL in the future,many ppl will even blind buy more.
Old 06-28-07, 01:23 AM
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I love the criterions I own (30+ titles of probably the best of the CC) however there are some Criterion titles i would like to add to my collection if they were'nt so expensive. I would buy the upcoming House of games and the jarmusch disks if only they were around $10 -15 in stead of $24-30 (after online discounts).
I just cant justify spending that kind of money on the criterion DVD's when the quality of the bonus material is rarely newly produced stuff like many cheaper disks from the major studios.
The only thing Criterion is still #1 in IMO is the artwork and packaging which is great but i dont think that should make the price twice as much.
Old 06-28-07, 01:35 AM
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In an attempt to be serious, here are my thoughts:
Not being a studio, they do not have the benefit of any ticket revenue to ease the costs associated with making the DVDs (Rialto was the beneficiary of recent restorations that had a commercial re-release). They spend a hefty sum to license the movie for the contract term, reaching agreements with all parties and then they spend a lot of time locating the best copies and restoring them. The movies they choose have a limited audience, even if it is a world classic. Then there are all the bonus features including books or booklets.
But yes, they still seem a little overpriced.
Old 06-28-07, 01:37 AM
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I believe it's because they have to pay for the rights to the film from the studio to make their own release? So their list/sell price is higher to recoup their costs to purchase those rights... or something along those lines... which is also why they generally go OOP after their rights lapse, if I'm not mistaken. Such as with Silence of the Lambs. They released a Criterion way back when and now that they no longer have rights, the studio released their own 2-disc edition.

I do wish their prices would go down though. I remember about five years ago I wanted to get the Traffic Criterion Collection 2-Disc, but it was $39.99 and I was just a young kid and that price was WAY TOO MUCH. I kinda regret not getting it, but I don't generally see it in stores. It's probably available online, but I never even thought about it until right when I was writing this reply... perhaps I'll go check right now... anyone have it? Is it worth the upgrade for the special features?
Old 06-28-07, 01:42 AM
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If you like commentaries The Traffic 2-disk CC set is fantastic. There are 3 feature length tracks and over an hour of additional footage and deleted scenes.
This is one CC title that I think is definitely worth the $25-28 .
I still remember when this came out in june of 02 and they had this at media play for $24.99. quite a deal



In additon I would like to add that while not a knock on the CC, i do have to say titles like "the Films of Alejandro jodoorowsky" and "Pacino: An Actor's Vision" which were recently released and available for around $25 put the recent releases from Criterion to shame in terms of content, price, packaging, and involvement with the talent.
However i just watched "If...." which I rented from Netflix and enjoyed it a great deal and will prob. be the next Criterion DVD I pick up

Last edited by chris_sc77; 06-28-07 at 01:53 AM.
Old 06-28-07, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by shyguy1083
I do wish their prices would go down though. I remember about five years ago I wanted to get the Traffic Criterion Collection 2-Disc, but it was $39.99 and I was just a young kid and that price was WAY TOO MUCH. I kinda regret not getting it, but I don't generally see it in stores. It's probably available online, but I never even thought about it until right when I was writing this reply... perhaps I'll go check right now... anyone have it? Is it worth the upgrade for the special features?
It's $25.97 at DVD Planet, which is probably the cheapest you'll find it new.

It really is a fantastic set in my opinion, and I'd recommend getting it. As do the DVD Talk reviews, here:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=4040

and here:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=3996

-

The Criterion price discussion comes up every once in awhile, and I imagine it's something that the company is quite well aware of.

Would they get more blind-buys if they lowered their prices? Very likely, but I think there are a lot of other factors that make them priced the way they are.

And whether or not they're overpriced or not (in most cases, I generally lead towards "not"), in terms of extras, audio and video, packaging, etc. I think that Criterion is still among the best in the region, and in the world. Companies like Masters of Cinema are their only real competition when it comes to definitive releases of lesser known films, in my opinion.

They are no longer the only company releasing great DVD packages, but they're still among the most consistent at releasing excellent movies with excellent transfers and excellent extras and packaging. They generally make their sets worth the price.

And god I sound like a Criterion fanboy.

Last edited by Sondheim; 06-28-07 at 02:02 AM.
Old 06-28-07, 02:00 AM
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thanks for the info, chris and me! $25 is not bad at all, especially now that i'm no longer an unemployed teenager. i'll definitely be adding this to my collection.
Old 06-28-07, 02:18 AM
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Criterion releases some kick-ass titles, including foreign ones, that no other studio does. They pack their DVD releases with some awesome extras and a cool package.
Old 06-28-07, 03:31 AM
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Criterion pays a lot of money up front for rights to certain movies and they often have deals which favor the studios. Obviously, studios only cut deals for films with them if it is in the studio's interest, which makes it even harder for Criterion to make money.

Although there are a lot of other high quality DVD companies out there, the only real competition for Criterion is Masters of Cinema, which is a Region 2 company. Also, some but not all of the Criterion releases have a "director approved" sticker on the front with the director's signature. This means it will most likely be the definitive release of a certain title on DVD. What this means is that many Criterion DVDs are "dip proof." In the long run, this can amount to big savings. If you have ever double or triple-dipped on a film, imagine if the original release of the movie had been Criterion. You would never have to dip again - in fact, you would probably end up saving money.

I just say evaluate Criterion DVDs on an individual basis. If you really love the film and the extras are new to you and seem interesting, go for it. You just paid a measly $25 for the definitive, never-have-to-dip-again version of a movie you deeply love - there's no way you got ripped off.
Old 06-28-07, 03:32 AM
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Most of the films that Criterion releases are of limited appeal. There isn't a huge line at Blockbuster clamoring for Ace in the Hole or the foreign films they show. So, selling their titles for $20 street price instead of $30-40 won't result in tremendously more sales.

Because they have to pay for everything: rights fees, technicians to clean up the films and people to provide commentary and make the features they show, they have to make a business decision for each title how much to charge in order to make a profit. You may be happy buying a year or so of Criterion releases for $20 and then have the company go under, but I doubt they are.

The major studios are doing a great job releasing high end titles with lots of extras priced not much more than the bare bones version. However, their start-up costs are a lot less, plus they are starting with in-demand titles. It's one thing to suggest to someone that they pony up an extra $5-10 to see Spiderman 3 with a lot of neat extras; it's another to suggest they pony up $30 for an obscure foreign title with those same extras.

Blue Underground has released a number of obscure titles in pristine versions with some great extras at popular prices. They are also almost out of business. Does anyone want Criterion to do the same thing?
Old 06-28-07, 07:26 AM
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Here's what www.criterion.com FAQ says:
Why do Criterion DVDs often cost more than other DVDs?

Criterion DVDs generally retail for about $10 more than average, and we make every effort to make those extra dollars count. We've made a commitment to presenting each film looking the best it can, and wherever possible, we are scouring the world's archives for additional materials that will elucidate the process or significance of the film. That work is extremely complicated and expensive, especially when the films are not all located in a single vault (as at a major studio) but scattered around the world. Our films are drawn from an array of film libraries in about two dozen countries so far. Many of the filmmakers whose work are included in the collection live thousands of miles away. Others are no longer living, making the archival project that much more difficult. And, especially with the older films, the process of making a master -- first finding the best available film elements, making a high-quality transfer, and then rolling frame-by-frame through the picture and sound fixing scratches, tears and dirt, as well as audio pops, crackle, clicks and hiss -- requires the use of very expensive equipment and personnel for long periods of time.

We appreciate the support people show when they pay a little more for our discs, because that is what makes it possible for us to keep striving to meet the standards of our most demanding and well-informed customers.
Old 06-28-07, 07:54 AM
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"$10 more than average"? not anymore,buddy! drop your prices already it's 2007!
Old 06-28-07, 08:27 AM
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I think the answer is simple here: if they are still keeping their prices, it means people keep buying Criterions at those prices, and the company is quite content with it. Why drop them? If you sell something expensive and see that fans buy your stuff anyway - would you reduce the price? I doubt.
Old 06-28-07, 08:33 AM
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Because they have a spine number.
Old 06-28-07, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Giggles
I think the answer is simple here: if they are still keeping their prices, it means people keep buying Criterions at those prices, and the company is quite content with it. Why drop them? If you sell something expensive and see that fans buy your stuff anyway - would you reduce the price? I doubt.
I see your point, but I really wonder what the volume of CC sales is compared to more mainstream releases. I guess what I mean is, could they increase their volume by orders of magnitude if they priced their titles more competitively?
Old 06-28-07, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by animatedude
"$10 more than average"? not anymore,buddy! drop your prices already it's 2007!
Most dvds actually have an MSRP in the $25-30 range. It's just that stores offer them at a larger discount because they're more well-known, or they order in larger quantities.
Old 06-28-07, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
Because they have a spine number.
This is the correct answer.
Old 06-28-07, 10:36 AM
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Yeah, they're really not that much more than other dvds (MSRP, anyways), it's just that their price never drops, and most sotres (outside of dvdPlanet) don't really discount them that much. But when if you do get them from dvdPlanet, spending $19 for a single disc, or $25 for a double isn't really that bad, considering the quality and the amount of work that went into the dvd. Sometimes, the inserts alone are worth the extra money.
Old 06-28-07, 10:39 AM
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I think the CC dvd's have a nitch audience who buy every single release. As long as they continue to sell at the high price they will not go down. I think I own 3 CC dvds of movies I really loved: Videodrome, The Rock and Silence Of The Lambs. The others just don't interest me but I imagine there are many people who have the complete set...
Old 06-28-07, 11:42 AM
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I think the better question at this point is why Criterion has made no effort to get into hi-def (either HD DVD or Blu-ray). If they TRULY want to provide the best version of a movie possible on home video, you'd think these new media formats would be in their gameplan.
Old 06-28-07, 12:57 PM
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I think Criterion has made a wise decision to wait out the format war. All of their more recent titles are on DVD from HD masters, so when it all works out, they already have the material they need to reissue titles.

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