• In the past month or so, some customers have noticed a little change in the way we’re pricing new DVD releases, and they can’t seem to figure out whether to cheer or complain. We’ve been charging $10 less for fully loaded DVDs than we used to, dropping our suggested retail price for most new special editions from $39.95 to $29.95. So what’s the problem? Well, back when we started issuing Blu-rays, we promised that we’d price them the same way we’d been pricing DVDs, not make them more expensive, even though Blu-ray authoring and manufacturing costs were then and are still much higher than those costs ever were for DVD. Our goal was to take price out of the equation for buyers considering which edition to pick up, and up to now, that’s what we’ve done. Recently, some costs associated with producing finished DVDs have fallen dramatically, and we wanted to pass that savings on to our DVD customers. Should our pledge not to jack up the price of Blu-ray have prevented us from offering better pricing on DVD when the economics permitted it? We decided it shouldn’t, but some Blu-ray customers were understandably distressed when they saw the two formats priced differently. What do you think?

23 comments

  • By jorge
    July 22, 2010
    03:56 PM

    Well, I understand the logic of the DVD price drop, but many of the initial blu-ray releases were $29.95 if I'm remembering correctly, and several releases (like Charade, for example) are of the caliber of what used to be a $29.95 DVD release. That's where the discrepancy of your above logic comes in. Even though it is HD, $40 is pretty steep for what basically amounts to a bare-bones release. Your blu-ray releases rock pretty hard, but in an age where many resources (HD masters, special features) seem to be shared across multiple companies (like MoC) it would be nice to see at least a portion of the BD releases for a more reasonable price. Not to sound ungratefuso let me add how awesome all your releases have been!
    Reply
  • By jmdecombe
    July 22, 2010
    03:58 PM

    I only buy your Blu-Rays now, except for gotta haves that you release only on DVD (with the hope that I can upgrade later), as well as Eclipse. Still, I think that it makes sense to price different media based on production costs, though I would like you to further reduce the cost of upgrading from DVD to Blu-Ray. Can you do that? Pleaaase?
    Reply
  • By Matt
    July 22, 2010
    05:50 PM

    Jorge, you are not remembering correctly. Criterion's Blu-rays have always been $39.95 MSRP (or more for those releases with multiple discs), from day one. Criterion, I think you made the right move. Even though I always opt for the Blu-ray edition whenever available, I see nothing wrong with keeping Blu-ray prices the same as you drop DVD prices. I know I'm paying a small premium for higher resolution and higher production costs, and I'm okay with that. Furthermore, if you look at the home video marketplace, $39.95 MSRP is not rare for Blu-rays from major studios or other independent distributors. Criterion DVDs were always priced a little higher than most from the studios or many other indies, but prices have been creeping up with the advent of Blu-ray and the decline in the number of regular catalog releases from the studios. Criterion has never raised prices and is now dropping them: both are reasons to celebrate.
    Reply
  • By Carlos David
    July 22, 2010
    11:34 PM

    Your plan sounds good, of course. But why is it that the lower cost in producing DVD's is being felt now, after 10 years or so of mature DVD technology? Why did it take so long? What exactly changed in the last year or so - other than the slow but steady migration of consumers to Blu-Ray? Also, what is your long-term plan regarding the 'old' DVD catalogue? Will most of it be transfered to Blu-Ray? Only some titles? How many a year? Anyways, thanks for bringing out all these wonderful titles throughout the years!
    Reply
  • By MC
    July 23, 2010
    10:49 AM

    I don't mind the difference in prices -- it makes sense. The idea above for a program to offer rebates of some sort for folks who upgrade also makes sense -- the upcoming Blu-Ray of "Seven Samurai" is tempting, but the difference in quality (particularly with B&W) isn't really enough for me to justify upgrading at current prices. Were there some sort of rebate program, I'd probably give in on at least a few titles...
    Reply
  • By Greg D
    July 23, 2010
    02:08 PM

    I'm comfortable paying a little more for blu rays because I have a very strong preference for blu ray. I've invested in the technology and when I buy a film I want to take advantage of the technology. A much bigger issue for me, however, is that on several occasions I've bought a dvd, and several months later the blue ray for that film comes out. I've gotten frustrated. Now I will only buy Criterion films on blu ray. Even if I see a classic come out that I love, I'll pass on it if its only on dvd.
    Reply
  • By yep
    July 23, 2010
    06:28 PM

    Seems you acted totally reasonably and in the best interests of your customers. Thanks.
    Reply
  • By GARY M
    July 23, 2010
    06:56 PM

    No question in my mind that you have done the right thing in adjusting DVD pricing in line with reduced production costs. It not only gives a break to all of us that are going to buy Criterion regardless of price because we know we are always going to get real value for our money, but it should help stimulate sales to the casual buyer as the pricing is more in line with what the major studios are offering. As far as Blu-Ray pricing is concerned, I'm sure production costs will eventually come down as the format gains wider acdceptance and I agree with the comment above that $40 is not out of line with what the majors are charging for their premier titles. So keep the Blu-Rays coming (we need to see some Seijun Suzuki and Jean-Pierre Melville titles in high-def) and those of us who appreciate a quality product will keep buying.
    Reply
  • By Patrick
    July 24, 2010
    04:55 PM

    I continue to enjoy everything Criterion does. The price drop is appreciated, especially when found on sale. Now please get "Suburi@" released !!!
    Reply
  • By Joshua
    July 25, 2010
    06:13 PM

    How dare you give me a discount?! ... I mean, um, thanks!! Seriously though, that sounds very fair and dare I say, thoughtful, an adjective not able to be applied to most companies out there. It is much appreciated, even from someone like myself who is a blu-ray buyer.
    Reply
  • By dave f.
    July 26, 2010
    04:53 PM

    bn.com has criterion titles on sale 50% off until Aug 1.
    Reply
  • By Norm Wilner
    July 26, 2010
    09:40 PM

    Have you considered combo editions? People who haven't upgraded to BD will be future-proofed, and people who have will be able to use the SD version to demonstrate what an incredible difference the upgrade makes.
    Reply
  • By Neal
    July 27, 2010
    12:04 PM

    Personally, given the choice, I would purchase Blu-ray every time, even if it is a bit more expensive. BD's are, in general, a better quality product, and it's worth the extra dough to have the "HD experience". It's my choice to do so, and I certainly don't feel cheated by Criterion for selling one format at a reduced price. That said, I believe that it would be best if Blu-ray releases and DVD releases cost the same amount. More expensive Blu-rays may (and probably do) discourage some people from switching from DVD to BD in the first place, and prolong the Blu-ray adoption time across the entire industry. If a publisher is seeing decreases in DVD production costs, why not pass along some savings to both products?
    Reply
  • By Scott Nessa
    July 28, 2010
    03:19 PM

    When I first learned of "The Price Pledge" I thought it was another effort by Criterion to make remarkable films, restored to remarkable condition, accessible to the public. Accessibility is the operative word in my notion of "The Price Pledge". Accessible not just to the well-heeled public who can afford whatever it costs to get whatever they want. I am in that portion of the not-so-well-heeled public who is none the less a film lover. I seek out Criterion releases as I can afford them. I am grateful that you are honoring "The Price Pledge" as I perceive it by lowering the price of non-Bluray DVDs and not increasing the price of Bluray DVDs, making remarkable films restored to remarkable condition even more accessible to people like me who can't afford the best of everything no matter the price. I have a list of Criterion releases that I covet. I will now be able to acquire them at an accelerated pace. I thank you.
    Reply
  • By Charles M.
    July 28, 2010
    06:46 PM

    Blu Rays, more expensive to manufacture or not, are typically way overpriced on the retail market. At least Criterion has a consistent price point - whereas you know when you go to a brick and mortar store what the deal is. Barnes & Nobles' 50% off sale is great- and I hope they happen twice a year as it seems they have been- but buying any regularly priced movie from them is downright foolish- when you consider that they tend to price their blu rays $10 to $20 dollars higher than Movie Stop, a movie only store that they own. I hope that Criterion releases nearly everything going forward on Blu Ray as DVD truly is an obsolete media. That being said, I am sure we are going to see a steady diet of re-releases. I think for the sake of fairness, we should get some kind of break on Blu Rays that come from the High Def transfers that were used for their DVD release. If you guys go out and make a Blu Ray disc from scratch- then I think it's fair to ask $39.99 for it. As for the discounted DVD prices? I think its fair to charge less at this point because no matter how well put together the package is- the product is no longer state of the art. PS: Princess Yang Kwei Fei would make an excellent Blu Ray...
    Reply
  • By mietha
    August 02, 2010
    08:00 AM

    I'll pay $10 more for blu ray. It's as simple as that. You didn't raise the blu ray price. You lowered the dvd one. I don't really see how anyone can complain. Anyone who hasn't updated to 2006 gets everything cheaper and nothing changes for the blu ray buyers. I really don't see the problem. I will buy every new release blu ray and every re-release of films that I don't already have on DVD, as I have been doing since 501. Just please go to only BR on the new ones, as I believe you have for October. There really is NO reason to be releasing these films solely on DVD at this point.
    Reply
  • By Chris
    August 04, 2010
    09:26 AM

    Seems you did the most reasonable thing here. Like the previous poster, I buy all new releases on Blu Ray. I've held off on buying older titles since the BR program began, in case Criterion re-issues them, either in improved or BR editions. I'ved had to purchase 2, or in some cases 3, copies of some titles as Criterion first reissues in improved DVD edition, and then later, BR (e.g.,. Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Seven Samurai). Very frustrating! In particular, early spine numbers with non-anamorphic widescreen are in need of refurbishing.
    Reply
  • By Jerry
    November 08, 2010
    06:12 PM

    Is there a way for me to upgrade to bluray for cheaper? I have Seven Samurai and Days of Heaven on DVD and would love to upgrade to Blu, if the price was reasonable.
    Reply
  • By Phil
    November 09, 2010
    10:49 AM

    Jerry, Criterion offers an upgrade plan where you can mail them your DVDs and they will send you the blu-ray version for $20. Info can be found on this website.
    Reply
  • By Rob
    August 14, 2011
    05:03 AM

    First, thank you for the work you have done! Been a fan for a long time. 2ndly, thank you for being upfront with your supporters about the inner-workings @ Criterion. The price adjustments is a great thing especially for an avid Criterion "dvd" collector. I've yet to make the jump to blu ray. Nor do I think I will for some time. I usually purchase criterion through various sales like B&N. However, this makes it more tempting to purchase directly from the source. It's nice to see certain older spines that are fairly bare bones by criterion standards come down to a reasonable price. However, I have to 2 questions. 1. Can't the price of public domain titles(i.e. Chrade) come down to an even more reasonable price. 2. Has Criterion ever thought about doing an annual sale of their own for their entire inventory? I've seen it done for individual films but not for a large selection. Thanks again!
    Reply