Can we just agree that at this late stage in the Blu-ray catalogue mastering game it's just plain ridiculous for Blu-rays to be 'region locked'!!! I realize I am deviating from the conversation slightly, but TT titles are always region free and that alone ought to improve their sales - provided people around the world are aware they exist. I've seen far too many titles I would kill to own in hi-def that have only been released in the UK. or Australia or France that are region B locked. What's the point?!?! Especially since this discussion thread seems to be focusing on the fact that North American releases continue to dip to an all time low.
Just a few other points to consider: while both TT and Criterion have - for the most part - endeavored to give us pristine quality of catalogue titles in hi-def, Olive has been the real junk dealer of the 'boutique' labels. I wouldn't give you two pennies for the quality of most of their releases. Even the ones that get advertised as 'restorations' like High Noon or The Big Combo have severe quality issues; riddled in age-related artifacts, bad audio, waaaay too much DNR, etc. Quantity ought never be confused with quality and quality is decidedly NOT what we're getting from Olive!!!
While there have been one or two titles released via Criterion and TT that have had suspect quality issues (Ministry of Fear and Titus respectively) by far and large both companies understand that their bread and butter is in the 'niche' market of high-quality releases. We need to say please and thank you to these companies and not continue to bash their price points. We also need to help them along by raiding their back log on Screen Archives and buying out whatever is left of their inventories to show our support for the exceptional work that they do. Personally, I own one copy of EVERY TT release. While not everyone can afford to, we can most certainly do our very best to promote the company to friends, family and co-workers who we know would like a particular title that TT currently owns and is marketing in hi-def.
Word of mouth will keep the niche alive when nothing else seems to. But I too agree that 'collecting' just isn't as fun as it used to be. Reason? Well, for starters, let's consider the absence of so many great movies still MIA in hi-def from Warner Home Video; a company that LOVES to repackage 10 to 20 titles already remastered and keep releasing them again and again while a ton of great movies in their repository molder with the past. Warner's archive is so vast it's an embarrassment of riches. If we can't find Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Band Wagon, The Big Sleep, The Sea Hawk, etc. in hi-def, where is the hope for 'minor' titles? Warner used to be savvy in DVD about releasing high profile titles like the aforementioned with lesser known titles to raise the public's awareness that these titles actually existed.
Having dropped that ball, Warner now seems content to concentrate on their WB Archive instead and Fox has followed suit with their abysmal burn on demand discs. But Fox has also stepped up its game in Blu-ray considerably in the last year and a half. Who would have ever thought we'd have The Agony and the Ecstasy on Blu looking as magnificent as it does...or The Inn of the Sixth Happiness for that matter. Could Anastasia (1956) and Two For the Road be far off.
The last holdout is, of course, Disney who refuse to look into their live-action catalogue as yet and mine it for its potential. But now I really have moved away from the purpose of discussion in this TT thread. Bottom line: support TT and Criterion in what they do and they'll continue to do it - WELL!!!