• Re: Format

    By Peter Becker

    Last November, when we announced that we would start releasing dual-format editions, we hoped that we had found an alternative that would address our concerns about packaging costs across two formats, while guaranteeing that both DVD and Blu-ray customers would still have access to an identical product. While we did solve that problem, no one seemed particularly happy with the solution. Blu-ray customers didn’t like making room for DVDs they didn’t want, and DVD customers didn’t like paying more to get a Blu-ray they couldn’t play. We soon found that we had to start releasing stand-alone DVD editions alongside the dual-format ones because a fairly large proportion of our audience has not made the leap to Blu-ray yet. And once we had separate DVD editions, what was the point of putting DVDs in with the Blu-rays? A good question.

    With that in mind, when we announce our September titles at the beginning of next week, we'll be going back to releasing separate DVD and Blu-ray editions. In most cases, the contents of the releases will be the same in both formats. This may come as welcome news to many of you and perhaps as a disappointment to some, but please know that we’ll keep thinking and listening, experimenting and exploring, so do let us know your thoughts and preferences.

472 comments

  • By G
    June 24, 2014
    01:16 AM

    Patrick ---P. S. I am referring to all movies not just criterion but criterion will follow suit with the industry. Note all the movies released by the studios Warner/20th century fox/Sony etc. little by little they are OOP (out of print) on dvd and are only available or soon 2 be only available on blue ray/dual format or blue ray and digital copy. Anyway have a nice day and enjoy your criterions.
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  • By Linou Gertz
    June 25, 2014
    03:32 PM

    I can't believe my eyes. First, DVD-costumers says "Oh, DVD is so much superior to blu-ray, much nicer packeting and bigger booklets than the small-package that the blu comes with. And the picture is not that superior on blu-ray anyway!" and now, with the grand package with two DVD:s and one Blu-ray for you own choose wich one to watch yourself and which to lend to a friend/family-member or sell on Ebay, and very nice booklets. I don't mind small Blu-ray-cases, but I just watched "A Hard Day's Night" on dual-format and both the packeging and the booklet is a experience beyond just watching a film. Just as it should be with Criterion. And that is worth the pricing, even if I'm not that rich and need to import from B&N on theire sales sometimes. So, for me, this is sad news. I think a big dual-format Eraserhead and The Innocents would be nicer than small blu-cases.
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  • By HOUSE
    June 27, 2014
    08:38 PM

    My experience with the dual format was one of grudging acceptance. I happen to be one of these "lower income" buyers who really has to watch his spending, especially when it comes to the ever addicting Criterion Collection. If I don't watch myself I'll buy two more films than my bank account can stomach. So naturally, I was a die hard DVD guy. The $10+ difference was huge for me, and I very much like to buy my Criterion from my local B&N for the immediate and visceral gratification (people who are still buying physical copies should appreciate this). So even though I am not burdened with a "low IQ", I tend not to bargain hunt or buy used off of Ebay. But, when I heard the news of the Dual, I bought a used player from best buy and dove in. So you guys did get me. What did that do to change my experience? Well- Firstly, the bump in image quality is NOT negligible. I was frankly blown away. When I first watched Eyes Without a Face and La Notte, I couldn't believe I hadn't upgraded earlier. Why was that again? Oh yeah, the money! I now realize that this means I have to be far more selective when it comes to what I can purchase. There are at least a half-dozen releases I quite possibly WOULD have picked up at the dvd price, but when I see the bigger price I get scared. Now, some releases I can't help myself, but my "to buy" list has been growing more rapidly since the transition. I was pleasantly surprised to find uses for the DVDs in my laptop and my portable dvd player. The future? Well, aside from the initial annoyance due to their back-peddling after I made the transition, I don't begrudge Criterion at all. I'll continue to buy the Blu Rays now, so they've made me a convert and will be getting more of my cash per release, but when I'm being more selective, does that translate to more cash overall? And this business of people selling the dvds from the Duals for cut rate on ebay... I see the ethical loophole, but still...shame on you guys!
    Reply
  • By Michael Link
    July 01, 2014
    06:20 PM

    What an interesting thread. Cinephiles are quite a fractious bunch. My wife and I have a BR player in our laptop and a stand-alone DVD player. Both connect to the TV. BR video quality is often (not always) superior--but BR players are also a lot fussier, more prone to funking-out, and require updating. It's kind of a trade-off. I've seen BR films that were distracting in their transfer--too much contrast, too much detail, an artificiality that wasn't present in the original film and had--over years--been compensated for in increasingly-sophisticated DVD transfers. ("Citizen Kane" is a good example of this--to me, at least, the latest BR transfer is unwatchable, but the DVD is fine.) Sure, it's easy to write off DVD as a medium of the past, but THAT technology has had at least the benefit of time to have improved it significantly, in the same way that recent CD "remasterings" sound so much better than their counterparts from the 90s. In my view, BR isn't there yet. Too often, the viewer sees TOO much. Sure, it's alluring, but it's just as often at odds with what the filmmaker would have thought you would see. (My god, the first BRs of the "Star Trek" series were absolutely unwatchable--the fissures between sets, the seams in costumes!) So why complain about the abandonment of dual-format? I agree totally with the folks who object to the price-point increase of the dual-format disks. DVD viewers aren't simply penny-pinching reactionaries; BR viewers aren't simply the forward-thinking of the bunch. Until the differences between BR and DVD are erased in the same way as, say, the differences between VCR and DVD, it seems churlish to complain. Besides, are BR enthusiasts so certain that their format is superior? It's instructive that, after 20 years, the jury is still out on whether analog LPs sound better than CDs. Just because BR offers temporary flash and dazzle. . . .is it BETTER? So I applaud Criterion for making the decision to revert to separate format releases--especially since, I suspect, it costs THEM, not us, more money to do so.
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    • By MugenSpiegel
      July 02, 2014
      12:20 AM

      Awesome post Michael! I've been waiting for someone to articulate what I could not, thanks!
  • By G
    July 03, 2014
    01:55 AM

    Dear Michael ---- As stated in my previous posts, I have a vhs a dvd and a blue ray player for the house with a higher end 2yr old laptop that is only equipped with a dvd player. I will address your comment regarding the quality of blue ray. -----Its critically important to start by saying BLUE RAY DISCS and BLUE RAY PLAYERS are 2 completely different subjects. when you say" blue ray just isn't there " that is an correct statement. As far as the players the player need not be the priciest thing on the market but Don't expect 2 buy a super cheap off brand and have it perform like a lexus. This holds for any type of product on the market. Blue Ray PLAYERS are "THERE" what your finding fault with are the transfers. I'll simplify it for all who don't understand how tranfers and video works. If a studio takes an inferior print ,does an inferior restoration or transfer and then puts it on blue ray it will look like dog poop. So just imagine what you'd get if you painted dog poop blue ---This is what your talking about. -----Criterion does not do this ! ! ! ! ! So that counterpoint holds no weight in this arena. However yes there are studios who are not redoing(restoring and /or transferring) some of their movies properly and thus you wind up with blue ray dog poop. Like anything we are all responsible to use our brains and research whatever it is that were interested in. ---Now with criterion our brain and research tells us that we don't have to read much about their commitment to offering the best available print out there. with other studios always research them to see if they have been restored, if its a good transfer and check the bit rate (listed on a fair number of BD cases on the back). Read reviews on amazon and or elsewhere. Like your mentioned Citizen Kane Blue Ray like any craft /equipment /decisions one can adjust levels improperly --That is the technician/studio not Blue Ray itself ----And yes its unfortunate but dvds have issues too. Everything will be all digital in the future after the studios finish milking the publics money but that wont be for another 4-7 years. ----- For now enjoy playing your hard discs on your backward compatible Blue Ray player at home and your dvds on your dvd only laptop if that's what you have and research your non criterion Blue Ray purchases and you'll be fine.
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  • By G
    July 03, 2014
    01:57 AM

    I meant to type incorrect statement---ooops
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    • By Michael Link
      July 03, 2014
      06:18 PM

      Mugen and G: Thanks for both of your responses. For obvious reasons, I'll take my brief time to reply to G: G, you're right. I was conflating BR players with BR technology itself--and magnifying that error by extending it to the variable transfer practices of different companies. That was a mistake. It would be like judging DVDs by the transfers produced by, say, Alpha Video, and using that to damn the whole medium, from transfer to disk to player. Let me re-phrase my central concern, which didn't emerge clearly. I don't question that BR is a stronger, more powerful medium. I've seen BRs that were absolutely lovely. I just don't think that the leap from DVD to BR (regardless of the entities responsible for the transfer or the end-user equipment) is quite the same as, back in the day, the leap from VCR to DVD. In every conceivable way, DVDs were better, and even very early DVDs blew their VCR counterparts away. But the leap from DVD to BR seems less, well, epochal, and I think the buying public, in general, agrees. I've worked at Barnes and Noble too long to mention without embarrassment, in the music/movie department, and I've been struck by how BRs have not taken over the field in the way they were projected to. Part of that is connected to the downturn in the economy around 2008, but not all. Price-points of BRs have come down quite a bit over the years, but not as much as was expected, and the cheapest BRs tend to be those at the low end of the quality spectrum anyway. At the same time, DVDs continue to have a fairly healthy shelf life. In contrast, a few years after DVDs appeared, videotapes were obsolete--but BRs have not erased DVDs in the same way. (And I question your assertion that everything will be "digital" in a few years--that's the conventional wisdom, but I've been surprised over the past two years about how many young people want physical media after all. Probably it has something to do with the nature of "ownership," and the pleasure of physical artifacts.) Anyway, I think we've reached a point of diminishing returns, and the kerfuffle over "dual-format" reflects that. Criterion has always done a GREAT job with their transfers (and packaging), but the difference between their DVD and BR productions seems to me the difference between "great" and "greater." Certain cinephiles will always be in pursuit of "greater," and that's fine, but quite a lot of us are happy with "great." It doesn't need to be a contest--and besides, as Criterion fans, all of us probably agree that the point is the film itself. Hopefully, for film fans, even the scratchiest, crappiest presentation of a good film, seen under the most awful circumstances, is somehow more important than the relative quality of the presentation. (I remember seeing "Peeping Tom" at a revival house in the early 80s. The print sucked and the sound kicked out from time to time--and the theater itself was gross--but THAT's the version of "Peeping Tom" I'll always remember first, even though I've watched the [late and lamented] Criterion disk of the same many, many times.) Maybe that's all I want to say: one wearies of discussions of transfers and bit rates and extras when the point should be, well, gee, how great is it that Criterion continues to bring these fabulous creatures back, and to be willing to service all of their audiences in ways that most labels would not? Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I'm sorry I've gone on too long. I rarely participate in forums like this, but I just thought I had to this time. Thanks for your civil response.
  • By Pete
    July 06, 2014
    11:18 AM

    A most welcome decision. It makes sense to have DVD only formats available. After all, eclipse sets are issued only on DVDs.
    Reply
  • By Scott
    July 07, 2014
    02:14 PM

    Want to add my voice to those disappointed you are dropping the dual format. I find great value in being able to watch my movie anywhere I want regardless of whether there's a Blu-ray player available or not. Particularly since you do not offer digital copies with your films, the DVDs are a great bonus. I will not buy as many Criterion films on Blu-ray now (and I buy several each month) because I have gotten used to and will miss the convenience of dual format releases. I hope you reconsider this decision.
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  • By G
    July 08, 2014
    03:59 PM

    To Michael----Thanks for your response---I, like you agree that having the source material in whatever presentation(vhs/dvd/blue ray/digital) is the most important thing of all.----- I had hoped my post would clarify albeit simplisticly some of the aspects needed for a blue ray disc to be better than DVD.------ As a cinephile I have all 3 formats although I only use vhs extremely rarely as its only 240 lines of resolution vs 500 in DVD. I bumped up my VHS collection to DVD 15 years ago----As mentioned in my previous posts I prefer, and think dual format is the best forum from now until about the next 2-3 years as technology and people transition to Blue Ray and / or digital copies.-------The only other viable solution would be to offer digital copies along with all blue ray purchases. ----This if keeping the separate DVD / Blue Ray formats. ---- P.S......I have spent more than a little time and money in your store.------I could not work there as the environment is too addictive for me.----lol-----------I thank all the good natured people (you know who you are that work there.--------------------- To everyone : Enjoy your great criterions ! ! !------- With luck criterion will be around doing the great job they do with their offerings for years to come.
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  • By G
    July 09, 2014
    05:42 PM

    ANOTHER FACTOID : Another great thing about Blue Ray is......3 Times the amount of data can be stored on a single disc vs a DVD. -----This is huge in a variety of different ways.-----# 1 .......With very long movies one doesn't have to eject the movie and turn the disc over like with Good Fellas (what a travesty). ---- #2----Nor do you need an additional disc if a 2nd disc is provided to see the rest of the movie or see special features ,like with Ben Hur etc.---#3---- So the manufacturer can cut costs, and make a superior product while offering better convenience. So for now the best thing is to offer either dual format or separate formats with the blue ray coming with a digital copy.---- I believe this is especially critical on high price movies being sold like criterions editions. -----As previously mentioned always check blue ray quality reviews on the various sites of the non criterion releases by studios.---------As for criterion productions I have the utmost confidence in the fact that they are "done" correctly.
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  • By DVD Phreak
    July 10, 2014
    03:35 PM

    People don't need Blu-ray players because they can watch and may prefer to watch streaming video in HD. They may even consider Blu-ray *backward*. Nobody cares the higher bit rates and other advantages of Blu-ray if it is going to inconvenience them with yet another electronic device in their living room -- the same way nobody is to going care about DTS CD and DVD-Audio and their supposed audio superiority if MP3 is so much easier to deal with.
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    • By G
      July 31, 2014
      03:13 PM

      Yeah --Everybody has an opinion and that's ok ---BUT----That's ridiculous to say "NOBODY cares" about the benefits of Blue Ray-----You mean you don't care and maybe your group of friends don't care------ Like I've stated in my numerous posts if you bothered to read them---Its all going digital in the future ---SO yes there will be many people streaming/using cloud/ultraviolet etc now and in the future but there will still be hard discs around both DVD and Blue Ray and the vast majority of the population will still use them for years to come.-----The industry is already transitioning to Blue Ray as well as digital if you've got eyes, and the transitioning solution and or trend is a combination of formats WHICH ALSO INCLUDES both or all 3. ----
  • By Max_Fischer
    July 10, 2014
    06:14 PM

    I'll miss Dual-Format Editions, not because I like having copies of the same movie on Blu-Ray and DVD but rather the packaging for them, like The Great Beauty, Persona, and Breaking the Waves just to name a few
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  • By SilverContent
    July 19, 2014
    12:32 PM

    As formats go, whatever floats your boat. I have both Blu-rays and DVDs in my collection. But if both formats are using the same hi-def source material, I'll always choose the higher definition format— but if a title is available only in DVD format, I might purchase it. And I agree with many of you, but I take issue with phrases such as, "...worst news I could possibly hear." If Criterion stopped doing what they do best—for reasons that extend beyond what we see, that would be a travesty.
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  • By Michael Link
    July 19, 2014
    06:29 PM

    Dear G-- Sorry about the long delay in response, but my wife and I moved lately and we were in a media-free zone for at least a week. Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful and generous responses. (And for your kind comments about B&N, as well.) I suspect we'll just have to agree to cordially disagree. Blu-Ray does have a much greater data capacity, as you mention, and its fabulous to be able to have a film and its extras on one disk instead of, say, two, but I suspect that every increase in format capacity comes at a cost of what I can only call "technical futziness." I'm not lying when I say that at least three of my favorite cinephile customers have purchased decent BR players but now seem to waver on whether it was worth the effort. I must say that, like Max Fischer, above, I'll actually miss the dual-format editions because of the PACKAGING--Criterion put a lot of ingenuity into the design of these things, and I'll miss the smaller (but thicker) trim size and the sheer fun of opening the thing up, even though I never play the BRs. The package design of "Zatoichi" was a thing to behold, and of course I HAD to buy the dual-format of "Picnic at Hanging Rock" because I had to have the damn book that came with it. On a side note--I know this hasn't been a part of our conversation, but I have to STRONGLY disagree with "DVD Phreak," above. I'm sure the technology will improve, but I must say that streaming HD movies don't do it for me. My wife and I have a very fast broadband connection on a good cable service, but I'd be pressed to name the last time I watched a streamed HD flick without at least one hiccup--pixillation, freezing, buffering, what have you. Besides, streaming does not supply the Joy of the Physical Artifact, which Criterion has always artfully exploited. If you're ever in Columbus, Ohio, come to say "hi" at the Polaris B&N store. It's always a pleasure to talk to actual film fans. Michae
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  • By A C
    July 19, 2014
    11:01 PM

    this is good and bad news to me (i think more bad, than good) 1. i started preferring the dual format releases because i still prefer/respect the DVD menu designs more than bluray. having dual format made this easy for me -- as i actually do consider buying the DVDs just for the menus (i understand the challenges of bluray menus, and how keeping things consistent are good...but still...the DVD menus feel *designed* whereas i find the blurays a bout 50% lackluster/uninspired) 2. i buy blurays exclusively, to future-proof, but don't always have access to a player, so having the DVD around is handy! 3. the only negative (for me) when things went dual format is that the bluray case sizes were retained -- DVD size was much better to appreciate artwork, etc. similar to how vinyl artwork is way more fun than CDs or digital
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  • By sp4zzj4zz
    July 20, 2014
    04:02 AM

    Well, I gotta say, this doesn't make me happy. So I suppose with the loss of dual format releases we will also lose the incredible new packaging also? Because that will *really* make me unhappy.
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  • By G
    July 20, 2014
    09:05 PM

    Interesting Factoid-----A L L ---- the top sellers on B & N right now are DUAL FORMATS. And don't worry Ive asked the sales clerks what has been selling the most and the titles and formats and the info ive received corroborates the posted info from B & N's website. ---- So I'll KEEP buying stacks of dual formats----and help criterion stay in business and by this sales data I think criterion will get one of the biggest sales boosts its seen in awhile.------- Too bad I can't get La Dolce Vita and several others in Dual Format before the plug gets pulled; but oh well I'll keep doing my thing and dig and search from all over to find great films. I am very happy that there are GREAT companies like criterion who work tirelessly to bring me (and all of us) great films and special features. THANK YOU CRITERION ! ! !
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  • By Eddie
    July 22, 2014
    05:54 PM

    Are the titles you released on dual-format going to be in standalone format versions now?
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  • By William Delpino
    July 24, 2014
    07:51 AM

    I think the dual format is a better value, and as a collector of films, as I am sure many of us who buy these great films are, I wish you would reconsider and keep the dual format. I am much more likely to purchase a dual format, than a stand alone, even though all my 4 players in my home are blu-Ray. The packaging of the dual format also makes the extra cost of the Criterion films feel much more like a " must buy". I also feel that I will purchase less Criterion than I have in the past, once you stop selling the dual format.
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  • By Ron Cerabona
    July 24, 2014
    10:42 PM

    Reverting to having DVDs and Blu-rays separate is good news for those of us not in the US for whom playing Blu-rays from that region is difficult, if not impossible (very hard to find machines that will do it).
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    • By G
      July 31, 2014
      03:28 PM

      Hi Ron------ I will assume that you don't live in "The Americas" North central or South nor in South East Asia. These countries all share the same new Blue Ray Regions. I was quite thrilled to pick up this improvement over the old DVD format but yes it would have been nice if everything went 1 world region. The powers that be will probably wait another decade to implement that or there counting on making the next transition to completely digital. -----I like Michaels comment that he has high speed yet can't digitally stream without frustrating interuptions(crashing of the digital stream). This furthers my opinion that Blue Ray accompanied with digital copy is the best solution for the future. P. S. I have many DVDs but they are playable on my Blue Ray player and I'm happy with that.

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