I was in Paris the first week of July and the video store up the block from my hotel had sections like these:
And they still had lots of VHS:
So catalog titles are still big somewhere!
My big problem as a consumer of these titles is the lack of awareness of new catalog titles when they get released. Sometimes films I want get released and then go out of print without my knowing about them. And I'm a target demographic for these titles. In the old days, you'd see new releases listed in various magazines or see them on video store shelves and that's how you'd find out. Just like when I wanted to know what was interesting on TV, I'd look up what was on in TV Guide and I'd find out. Now I don't know how to find out when something interesting to me is on TV or newly released on DVD or Blu-ray.
Also--and I run the risk of contradicting my previous paragraph here--I've bought very few catalog titles on Blu-ray and only when the price has gone below $10. I could probably list them all here: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE SEARCHERS, THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA, IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, BARBARELLA, THE WILD BUNCH, and THE GETAWAY. I already have hundreds of other catalog titles on VHS and DVD and I'm usually satisfied with them. Or I simply don't want to buy them again. I need to save money and space. Still, I watched my WILD BUNCH blu-ray a week or so ago and I got to thinking that I kind of wish I had more films on Blu-ray like this that I subject to repeat viewings, such as maybe some of the Connery Bonds like YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (are these even on Blu-ray yet?). Or LUST FOR LIFE, which I watched on TCM-HD the last time it was on and was blown away by it.
When I was growing up, most of my peers and I watched old movies on TV all the time. We loved Humphrey Bogart as much as we loved new Clint Eastwood movies. We watched old John Wayne movies on TV and new John Wayne movies in neighborhood theaters (CHISUM, BIG JAKE, et al). But I don't know that many peers of mine have become collectors like I have. Not even my old film school buddies. We used to be able to see this stuff for free on TV (albeit pan-and-scan, cut and interrupted by commercials). Beyond the absolute must-haves like CASABLANCA, THE SEARCHERS et al, how many of the old movies we used to find by channel surfing (which meant getting up and turning the dial) do we really feel like owning. For me, the answer is thousands, but that doesn't apply to too many of my peers. And my daughter and her generation? Not likely. And I've trained her to like old movies. She even went with her friends to see THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN at one of those Movies-in-Bryant Park deals one summer evening. But they don't seek them out as rigorously as we did. They have too many other pop culture choices, such as all those TV shows they absolutely have to follow, like "Game of Thrones," et al. And old movies are not prevalent anymore nor do they register with their peers much. Few parents of my age are instilling a love of old movies in their children. I was once appalled at my brother because his three sons told me they'd never seen any westerns. So I stopped lending them anime and Hong Kong titles and instead dropped off a stack of westerns. And they liked them. But I was furious at my brother because I had to do that.
The way we used to discover movies on TV, I now find stuff on YouTube. I've actually begun watching old movies like HGHWAY DRAGNET, PLUNDER ROAD and SILVER LODE on YouTube. Not the best way to see movies, but I see movies this way that I don't want to make blind buys of. And old TV shows like "This Man Dawson" and "The Asphalt Jungle." We can't buy or own everything. There should be some means on the web of seeing stuff in HD and the best possible quality without buying them outright or paying more than a couple of bucks. I'd see more stuff on Amazon Instant Video, which I've never actually taken advantage of, if I knew what was on it and knew it would be close to DVD quality.
But I also have more stuff in my collection than I'll ever get to see in my lifetime and a lot of the titles I have on DVD and VHS are out of print now and don't exist in any other format so this is the only way to see them.