Two Steps Away from the County Line . . .

It’s been a few weeks since Peter and I started this blog, and we are gratified that the response has been so positive. We debated for a while whether or not I should have hot-linked my email address last week, and I’m glad that I did. I received lots of feedback, all of which I tried to answer directly, and I’ve found the interaction interesting and informative. Also, we have to admit that we do check the forums (who wouldn’t read their own reviews?), and while the debate continues there, I’m happy to see that most people seem pleased.

I’ve gone back and taken a look at the letters addressed to Jon Mulvaney and me over the past couple of weeks and want to address some of them here. Topics that keep coming up ….

The new logo:
Some people like it, others don’t. Again, it was a very long debate in the office. We felt that we needed to make the change for several reasons, and here are a few. Many of the studios had adopted the top space on the box, and it was no longer unique to Criterion. The justified right bar was very hard to see in a small jpeg image online, and more and more people are shopping for DVDs that way. We wanted a mark that could easily integrate with our upcoming spring launch of the Eclipse line. The more time I spend with it and see some of the wonderful designs that incorporate the “C,” the more I like it. For the very few of you who have written that you’ll never buy another Criterion disc with the new logo, I think you’re missing some great movies.

Why do we rerelease a title? What’s next, and are there rebate programs? I actually answered this in detail in the March 2006 newsletter. In short, we only rerelease a film if we can do a significantly better job with either the film transfer, the supplements, or hopefully both. We know there are a good two-dozen early releases (Andrei Rublev and Shock Corridor, to name just a couple) that need to be redone, and we’ll probably get to them at a rate of three to four a year. I tried to find a rebate program for customers who already owned the discs. We had one for Charade. It didn’t work. The participation was very low. The cost was very high, and we couldn’t effectively price the disc without competing with our retailers in a way we found uncomfortable.

Have we been able to renew our rights? Well, here’s the answer you weren’t expecting. Yes. We’re working on a brand new HD transfer now. It’ll be a totally new release and be out in 2007.

HD, Blu-Ray or SD?:
Peter wrote a blog entry about this, but it’s still the most asked question, and when we have an answer—which will most likely come right after the big guys resolve their format way—we will let you know. In the meantime, all of our mastering continues in HD, and we’ll be ready.

Back issues of the newsletter:
When we launched the newsletter eighteen months ago, we wanted to have more direct contact with our customers. We wanted to pass along information that wasn’t generally available—stories we find out during the production of a disc, what we’re thinking with regard to a specific issue. We’ve increased our newsletter subscribers tenfold since we launched. If you’re not a member you can sign up here. Lots of you have asked about an easy way to access back issues; when we work on a redesign of the website next year, we’ll address this issue, but in the meantime, all of the back issues will soon be available on this blog.

Enough for now. One last thing about letters. We read them all—both the praise and the criticism, as well as the just well thought-out suggestions, but Peter, Jon Mulvaney, and I are highly unlikely to answer mail that’s abusive. If you send in such a letter, don’t wait for an answer.

Thursday is Thanksgiving, and I want to wish you and your families a safe, healthy, and peaceful holiday.

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