Why Are Criterions STILL Overpriced?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by MichaelEl, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    +1

    My Criterion edition of "Spartacus" is one of my very favorite DVDs. It's not my favorite movie or anything, but between the top-notch presentation (better than Universal's earlier DVD), the outstanding commentary track, and the additional commentary track featuring Dalton Trumbo's notes on a pre-release version of the film, it's probably the best special edition any Kubrick film has received. I hope their version makes it to Blu-ray eventually.
     
  2. Kevin L McCorry

    Kevin L McCorry Second Unit

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    For the price being asked, these discs should be most impervious to rot but on the contrary seem more susceptible.
     
  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I have to laugh when people say the higher prices are because they release rare films. Blah. Bergman, Kurosawa, Bunuel and those types have fans across this world and the majority of film buffs will also buy. Try being Kino, Flicker Alley, Blue Underground, Synapse, Severin or any of those guys. They release niche titles from the likes of Franco, D'Amato and various other names that even die-hard film buffs don't know and these companies don't have to charge $40+.

    To me the extra money goes for the Criterion name. From day one they made their name stand for something and that's where the extra money is going. From the start they let people know the prices would be that high and they've stuck to their guns.
     
  4. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    A lot of titles also weren't transferred from the best available elements, and yet they are still being priced as if they were.
     
  5. zackscott5

    zackscott5 Stunt Coordinator

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    THe first edition of THe Third Man was Released on DVD 3-23-2001 and then remastered in Hi-Def and re-released on 5-22-2007. THe Seventh Seal was released on DVD on January 29, 1999 and has since not been given a high def remastering. These remasters both still have specs and scrapes on their original pressings. The master work of Lowry Digital (the restoration company that supervises the restoration of CErtain classic films) Didn't debut until the release of Citizen Kane in 9-25-2001. This created a new high water mark for film restoration and gave Criterion on their restoration process a run for their money.

    Kwaidan was released on october 10, 2000. Now was there an avaliable print of the longer version avaliable then that wasn't deteriorated? I don't know. HOwever I do know that Criterion released the longer version at 162 minutes compared to the original US Release of 125 minutes. So maybe (and I am assuming here) that Criterion did try to find the longer version and only came up with the 162 minute print. THen later someone found the longer print and was releassed on the Masters of Cinema collection in R2. It happens all the time in the world of classic cinema on Home Video. (DO you know the story of It's a Mad MAd Mad Mad World? ask Ron about it).

    If you don't think that Criterions are not transferd from the best possible FILM elements, I ask you to go and see a screening of any criterion release at your local art house or on public television. The criterions are a lot better.

    Criterion has been around for quite a while. almost 30 years. THat name has become synominous with quality in their video releases. They set the standard for supplemental features that we now take for granted today. They started the commentary track and celebration documentaries on the making of and chrishing of certain films be it The Seventh Seal or James BOnd. They cared about the films that they released unlike the major studios who think of film as product. They were always expensive (I paid $70.00 for a laser disc of Blade runner) but you knew what you were getting. I sometimes look back at the days of laserdisc fondly as the time when films were more archival and laugh at the people who complain about the high prices of certain special editions. Why I paid $125.00 for the 20th annivesary laserdisc of The Rocky Horror Picture show but with that money I got the film with an Audience participation commentary track, Creatures of the Night 2 by Sal Piro, a gold CD and a great documentary. All of that stuff was on the first incarnation of the DVD for $25.00 but it wasn't the same.

    Sorry for the rant but when you are complaining about the $40.00 MSRP (cause you can buy them at the Criterion Store for $30.00, DVD Planet and Amazon for around $25.00 plus the Essental Art House collection for less than $15.00) I just have to laugh. Sorry.

    By the way, MichaelEL, Welcom to the Forum and may I ask when you got into the Home Theatre craze?
     
  6. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Kino's prices are on the same level as Criterion, generally. Most of their releases have been interlaced, old transfers, PAL conversions, and bare-bones. They're still around $20 cheapest.

    Criterion doesn't overcharge as long as you shop in the right places. I picked up Mr. Arkadin for $20 at Amazon during a sale, along with Elevator to the Gallows for $15.

    One other thought is the effort into presentation. I think a few extra dollars is worth not having to wade through a lot of logos and warnings. When I put a Criterion DVD in my player, I look forward to the next thing I see being the main menu. I miss how DVDs from Warner and Image went right into the movie after their skippable logo.
     
  7. Reggie W

    Reggie W Cinematographer

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    Interesting how you choose to quote certain prices but this seems to prove again that Criterion is not being elitist but offering their version of certain items at a different cost. You also seem pleased with the Anchor Bay disc so what does it matter to you what Criterion charges for their version?

    Basically your argument seems pretty slanted toward just painting Criterion as bad guys for charging more and you've cherry picked evidence to support that. Honestly I don't think what you are saying is fair.
     
  8. Reggie W

    Reggie W Cinematographer

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    I don't see your point, Mark.
     
  9. zackscott5

    zackscott5 Stunt Coordinator

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    If you "Triple dip" from Criterion DVD to Criterion Bluray, Criterion will offer a rebate. YEs they are in business but they aren't a regular studio that is wanting you to double dip for that new extra. They do however want you to double dip for the best possible presentation that is available besides getting your own projector and a few reels of the 35mm print of a certain movie. And they'll pay you for it!
     
  10. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    I never collected many videotapes and I never even owned a laserdisc player, mainly because I was smart enough to see that a format compatible with CD would eventually become the standard for home video. Holding out not only saved me a lot of money, but it also saved me the frustration of having to discard an expensive collection of tapes and LDs.

    Of course it goes without saying that the DVD revolution has really been a godsend for people interested in building a home film library. The one sore point has been the high price of Criterions, and it is a sore point indeed, considering that the Criterion Co. holds the rights to many of the best films ever made.
     
  11. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    By that logic, you should have skipped DVD all together and waited for Blu-ray or downloads.

    My laserdisc player is still something that I look back fondly on. While most people were watching pan and scanned versions of Star Wars or Halloween or Apocalypse Now or Alien or 2001, etc. taped off of HBO or their local affiliate, I spent years watching movies in their correct aspect ratio and in, what was at the time, a state of the art presentation. So I'm glad I was one of the people not smart enough to wait for a format that was compatible with CDs.
     
  12. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    So you're saying you're smarter than anyone who owned a laserdisc player?
     
  13. zackscott5

    zackscott5 Stunt Coordinator

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    THen you, sir, definitely don't know the contribution that Criterion made to the advent of Home video Presentation especially in the days of laserdisc. Like I said before, if it wasn't for Criterion, you would probably not even have the wonderful special features or even films presented in their OAR by studio releasing. You would have a pan and scan bare bones edition like the early Universal DVD's of The Jerk, ANimal House, and Fletch. (I'm talking about the 1998 releases not the anniversary editions just to be clear here)

    BY the way, Criterion only holds the right to distribute these films. Other studios can and do release the same films of criterion releases on their own labels(FEar and Loathing in Las Vegas, ARmageddon, THe Rock, Spartacus, The seventh Seal, Vampyr, Bottle Rocket, Brazil, THe Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Rushmore) and these are bare bones editions. Criterion gave you the extras for the true fans of the film who celebrate the film and cherish it. A Criterion treatment of your favorite film is quite a godsend for the film fan. The film's home studio can and does release it's own version on DVD if they feel that it would be profitable. More often than not that is not the case.

    By the way how did you feel when you had to discard your LP or Casette version of your favorite album when C.D.'s came along and eventually dominated the market? PRogress!!!!
     
  14. zackscott5

    zackscott5 Stunt Coordinator

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    ANd yes I do! I'm not saying that I can afford each and every Criterion disc out there (because I can't) nor do I go around blind buying any new Criterion release (cause I would have to find a way to return Salo and Jubilee) BUt if I had a choice between a criterion release or a regular studio release of a film that I like...Criterion wins hands down.

    BTW, did you star this thread because of the state of the economy now? I have noticed a lot of complaiining on this forum about how high prices are for certain thngs(especially with Blu-Ray).
     
  15. Brad Vautrinot

    Brad Vautrinot Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't mind paying a bit more for a Criterion release for several reasons:

    1. The movie will be presented in its true aspect ratio and uncut.
    2. If needed, it will have been restored.
    3. They are always with the original soundtrack.
    4. Supplemental material. Criterion usually puts together a nice addition of supplements that are not available anywhere else. Criterion doesn't license their supplements to anyone else, even when a film's license reverts back to the original studio. This makes a Criterion release a bit special.

    I'm neither a film expert nor a film student. I don't own many Criterion releases:

    Blast Of Silence
    Brute Force
    The Man Who Fell From Earth
    Naked City
    Night and The City
    Overlord
    Pickup On South Street
    Robinson Crusoe on Mars
    Straw Dogs
    The Furies
    The Lady Vanishes
    Thieves' Highway
    The Third Man
    Traffic
    Videodrome

    I just ordered The Small Back Room - another outstanding Powell & Pressburger film. If it wasn't for Criterion this one would likely never see the light of day from any other studio especially with the accompanying supplemental material. For myself, it's definitely worth spending a few extra bucks.

    I still have about 400 laserdiscs, a lot of which are still not available on DVD such as The Reflecting Skin, The African Queen, an uncut/uncensored Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and many others. I have no regrets at having plunged into LD's when they were in their glory. I've kept all my Criterion LD's.

    Brad
     
  16. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I'm just going by retail price and not the deals you can find. You'll often find me complaining about the price of Blu-rays but I've yet to pay over $15 for any of the 20 titles I have. Waiting and looking for deals is what I try to do but I'd rather buy stuff right off the bat.

    Kino has had its share of problems but a company like Criterion isn't going to release that stuff. They fit right in with majors when it comes to silents even though their one release was one of the greatest (THE KING OF KINGS) of all silent releases. There are still thousands of films out there to be rescued but they haven't stepped up to tackle any of them.

    I'm not meaning to say they're a bad company because they certainly aren't but at the same time their reasons for the high prices are a joke because other small labels are releasing Special Editions of titles that might only sell a few thousand copies and they can release them with brilliant transfers and multiple audio selections for $20 retail.

    To me the extra money isn't in presentation but Criterion just selling their name.
     
  17. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I should note that many Criterion Laserdiscs have content that were not ported over to DVD (and likely never will be for legal reasons among other things)

    I'm happy to have purchased a Pioneer DVL-909 11 years ago, and I kept a good pile of those lasers for archival and film education purposes.

    A brief list of what prompted me to keep those, starting with the Criterion LDs:

    Close Encounters (Criterion CAV Edition with many exclusive interviews)
    Dead Ringers (Laserdisc included "Crimes of the Future")
    Bram Stoker's Dracula
    The Fisher King
    Forbidden Planet (this one didn't get supplanted until 2 years ago)
    Ghostbusters (many exclusive interviews)
    Halloween (nice to have the initial Criterion work on it)
    It's A Wonderful Life
    The Magnificent Ambersons
    Midnight Cowboy (Exclusive commentary that wasn't ported over)
    The Player
    Raging Bull
    Silence of the Lambs
    Silverado
    Taxi Driver
    Tootsie (Exclusive Commentary not ported over)

    and also these non-Criterion specials:
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Disney Archive Edition)
    The Idolmaker (widescreen edition with Taylor Hackford commentary)
    Rocky Horror Picture Show (the same set with the gold CD - I still love it)
     
  18. MichaelEl

    MichaelEl Stunt Coordinator

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    Let's just say it seemed obvious to me that LDs - due to their size and cost - would eventually be replaced by a better optical format, and that my money would be better spent replacing and extending my LP collection with CDs.
     
  19. zackscott5

    zackscott5 Stunt Coordinator

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    A HA!!!! Progress!!! You did have to waste money due to format upgrades just like us with Laserdisc-DVD-Blu Ray!
     
  20. haroldS

    haroldS Stunt Coordinator

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    Compared to pricing in general, Criterions are overpriced, but unless it is a collection of catalog previously released titles, all DVDs are overpriced. But that is not a reason not to buy Criterion, or single them out to complain about pricing. First, I would observe that if you wait for a sale, the price could be half of the list price, then it would be only slightly higher then major distributors' titles. And none of Criterion titles are new releases, so immediate purchase is not necessary. Second, the quality seems uniform, which is worth paying a little bit more so as to avoid time lost, as proven with the deplorable recent MGM Hitchcock release. Third, the major distributors, like Fox and Paramount, are doing the same thing; taking catalog titles, adding a few extras and raising their prices by five to eight dollars list. Just look at MGM's confusion and release of Yentl at an intended $15. list, but coming out at $30. list.

    It's the "extras" on the Criterion that I find fault with the pricing. Many of the these "extras" are archival. Not that they are bad, because they are clearly relevant and detailed, but most other major distributors, like Fox and Warners, use newly produced appropriate documentaries. Yes, Criterion does put the effort into finding them, but aren't most out of or non-copyrighted?

    In short, their pricing isn't going to change because of my opinion and I would, or need, the opportunity to obtain their titles that I can not get no where else.
     

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