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The Prices of New 4k/UHD Releases... (1 Viewer)

Mike Frezon

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...seem like they've gotten mighty high.

I've heard a lot of discussion about inflation in recent weeks/months. But as I compile the prices in each week's Weekly RoundUp for the HTF, I have started to realize in recent weeks that 4k disc prices have taken a rather dramatic jump.

For example, today I put together Amazon's prices for the new releases coming out on the week of April 30:

4k/UHDAmazon
Andor: Season 1 LE (Steelbook) (4K/UHD) (Disney)$55.99
Barbarella (4K/UHD Standard) (Arrow)$49.99
Basket Case (4K/UHD) (Arrow)$49.99
The Church (4K/UHD) (Severin)$44.99
Conan the Barbarian (4K/UHD 2-Disc Standard) (Arrow)$49.99
Conan the Destroyer (4K/UHD Standard) (Arrow)$49.99
Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (4K/UHD) (Vinegar Syndrome)$25.99
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: First Season (4K/UHD) (Disney)$47.99
Madame Web (4K/UHD) (Sony)$49.99
Madame Web (4K/UHD LE Steelbook) (Sony)$34.96
Mean Girls (2004) (4K/UHD) (Paramount)$21.98
Mean Girls (2024) (4K/UHD) (Paramount)$27.96
Moon Knight: First Season (4K/UHD) (Disney)$47.99
Obi-Wan Kenoobi: Season 1 CE (Steelbook) (4K/UHD) (Disney)$47.99
Ocean’s Eleven (4K/UHD) (SDS)$40.95
Ocean’s Twelve (4K/UHD) (SDS)$40.94
Ocean’s Thirteen (4K/UHD) (SDS)$40.94
Ocean’s Trilogy (4K/UHD) (SDS)$55.99
The Sect (4K/UHD) (Severin)$44.99


I realize some of these are episodic series and such. And I certainly recognize that Amazon is not the only seller of discs in the marketplace. And I am well aware of the prices that were paid for premium laserdisc releases back in the day. But titles like Barbarella and Conan priced at $49.99 really makes me wonder if the 4k disc niche will be able to succeed/survive.

Personally, I want to buy 4k discs whenever I go to buy a title and it's available in that format. But there are times now when the Blu release seems like a price with which I'm much more comfortable.

Maybe I'm just having a "cranky old man" day. :D
 

Robert Crawford

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By the way, some of those Amazon prices haven't been discounted yet. An example being the Madame Web 4K/UHD. The Steelbook which should be more expensive has been discounted while the non-steelbook 4K/UHD hasn't been discounted and is much more expensive right now than the Steelbook release.

On a sidenote, studios and companies love those steelbook releases because they can sell them at a higher price than non-steelbook releases. Just a money grab to me.
 

jayembee

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Arrow releases are normally priced higher than most domestic releases. The same with Severin.

And Criterion.

Funny thing is that for years, people bitched about Criterion giving their standard Blu-rays a $39.95 MSRP, but no one seemed to complain about Disney's releases being the same. Sure, it was for Disney "collector's" editions, but those were pretty much, in terms of content, similar to Criterions.

And then there were the constant complaints about Twilight Time prices back when.

I think one has to give the boutique labels some slack, as they have licensing fees to deal with, but the major studio labels are another thing.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Personally, I almost never buy discs upon their initial release anymore, as the initial prices are higher than I am willing to pay. The days of first week discounts are long gone. I wait for a price drop or sale instead - - or opt for the digital streaming version if it hits my price point first.
 

Jesse Skeen

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“Loss leader” pricing seems to be gone now with Best Buy out of the picture. I kept waiting for Top Gun Maverick to be under $20 but that hasn’t happened, you can hardly find the 4k disc at all in many stores. Back in the day that would’ve been practically given away. Since I haven’t been in a hurry to see it and it’s available on streaming, I’ll watch it that way first then order the disc only if I really like it.
 

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A few years ago, as the decline in physical media sales were becoming more of a talking point on here, a lot of the conversation centered around the vinyl resurgence and how that might be the path forward for movies on disc. As a longtime vinyl enthusiast, I’m noticing a lot of those same trends playing out here.

With discs not really being a mass-market, general public product anymore, we enthusiasts no longer have the general public’s buying volume to subsidize the cost of these releases. Prices are going up and that’s not a coincidence or anyone imagining things. Studios are more willing to license things to boutique labels. By and large, boutique labels are doing a fantastic job of providing high quality product that the enthusiast market wants, but there is a cost to making that kind of product and that cost isn’t being absorbed by the studio or the general public.

I think we’re now firmly in the era of “if you really want a newly announced product, buy it immediately.” A lot of these releases won’t be repressed when stock runs out. The prices on hand reflect what it costs to successfully manufacture and distribute these titles, and if everyone waits for bargain basement prices and clearance sales, the end result will be fewer such releases will be made. Not everyone who actually works on these releases is at liberty to be so blunt about that, but it is the truth. That’s how it works with vinyl too. The vinyl labels that are the equivalent to Criterion and Arrow and Shout aren’t making unlimited copies. They’re not keeping items in print in perpetuity. Firm street dates are giving way to orders being filled on a rolling basis as stock comes in. All of this is in service of keeping this niche viable by marketing to the audience that exists for product rather than the vegetal public.

One of HTF’s insiders, David from ClassicFlix, has said as much in his own posts here about where his business is going. On the ClassicFlix thread, David was discussing an upcoming release of an old television show that’ll be released in three separate volumes. One member responded that he’d wait to buy until all three volumes were released, and David pointed out that they’ll only be able to afford to go through with making the second volume if the first volume is successful. I applaud David’s transparency and I hope all of us enthusiasts take that message to heart. To the extent our individual finances allow it, we need to support the titles we’re interested in, on a timely basis, or there won’t be much left to support.

“Loss leader” pricing seems to be gone now with Best Buy out of the picture.

It’s been going the way of the dodo for quite some time and the reason for that is pretty simple - discs are no longer an effective loss leader. With sales down more than 90% from their peak, there simply aren’t enough discs being sold for them to make an impact for any one retailer. They’re not bringing shoppers into stores anymore so it doesn’t benefit retailers to lose money on them in the hopes that the customer will buy other products while they’re there.

Everyone working in this industry now is doing their best to try to make only as many copies as they think will sell in a reasonable amount of time. The cost of manufacturing and managing unused inventory can easily swallow up any potential profit margin a release might have.

This is true of pretty much any retail product ever; stores aren’t going to stock what doesn’t sell, especially nowadays when the rising costs of real estate and transportation/distribution make it extremely unfriendly economically to stockpile products.
 

dpippel

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“Loss leader” pricing seems to be gone now with Best Buy out of the picture. I kept waiting for Top Gun Maverick to be under $20 but that hasn’t happened, you can hardly find the 4k disc at all in many stores.
Amazon is currently close at $21.99, and has it in-stock.
 

jayembee

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I think we’re now firmly in the era of “if you really want a newly announced product, buy it immediately.” A lot of these releases won’t be repressed when stock runs out. The prices on hand reflect what it costs to successfully manufacture and distribute these titles, and if everyone waits for bargain basement prices and clearance sales, the end result will be fewer such releases will be made. Not everyone who actually works on these releases is at liberty to be so blunt about that, but it is the truth. That’s how it works with vinyl too. The vinyl labels that are the equivalent to Criterion and Arrow and Shout aren’t making unlimited copies. They’re not keeping items in print in perpetuity. Firm street dates are giving way to orders being filled on a rolling basis as stock comes in. All of this is in service of keeping this niche viable by marketing to the audience that exists for product rather than the vegetal public.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Criterion in this regard. One of the things that hasn't pretty much been a constant since they first got into this crazy business in the early-to-mid-80s is that as long as they don't lose their license for a title (as with a boatload of StudioCanal titles, as well as a bunch of Paramount titles, and others) they keep it in print.

On edit: Oops! That should read "One of the things that has pretty much been a constant..."
 

Josh Steinberg

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It will be interesting to see what happens with Criterion in this regard.

I agree! They’re sort of the closest to Mobile Fidelity in the movie to vinyl comparison. MoFi might pick up a license to press 5000 or 7500 copies of something but they don’t press them all at once. And just as there’s more limited replication capacity for movie discs today vs years prior, that’s also true with vinyl, so the amount of time that passes between represses of their “in print” titles can be months or even years. If they print the first thousand and it sells out immediately, they’ll make more quicker. If it takes years to sell out the first batch, they may just as likely conclude that it’s not selling well enough to make more. That could be something Criterion has to do in the future.

The other thing is just what their licensing costs are and the ultimate effect of titles not selling will be less money brought in which means fewer resources to license additional titles going forward.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I find that I’m making purchasing decisions a lot quicker than I used to and making fewer overall buys - I’m trying to avoid purchases when it’s merely something I’d like to see once. I can’t justify the expense or the shelf/storage space when I can just as easily rent the same title for $5, or even better, see it on a service I’ve already paid for.

On the other hand, if it’s something I actually want that has real value to me, now I won’t hesitate to order it immediately rather than playing chicken with online pricing.

I have that same Amazon wishlist and I’m seeing things I put on there years ago occasionally drop down below $20 or even $10 and most of the time I’m not pulling the trigger on them. I keep thinking that if it’s been on that list for five or ten years and I haven’t felt an urgent desire to watch it in all of that time, it’ll just wind up in my unwatched pile if I did buy it.
 

SD_Brian

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Dollars-wise, MSRP pricing has remained pretty consistent: Blu-ray new releases had MSRPs of $39.95 in 2008 and they have MSRPs of $39.95 in 2024. If you're looking at this from an inflationary standpoint, the pricing should be closer to $60 by now. So, the price has actually gone down. From a certain point of view.
 

Robert Crawford

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Dollars-wise, MSRP pricing has remained pretty consistent: Blu-ray new releases had MSRPs of $39.95 in 2008 and they have MSRPs of $39.95 in 2024. If you're looking at this from an inflationary standpoint, the pricing should be closer to $60 by now. So, the price has actually gone down. From a certain point of view.
Again, the increase in the number of Limited Editions including Steel Books as well as foreign boutique labels like Arrow and Vinegar Syndrome releasing more titles in Region "A" has skewed some 4K/UHD pricing. Criterion's MSRP for their 4K/UHD releases is $49.95 while Kino's pricing is generally $39.95. Those prices haven't changed since both domestic boutique labels have been releasing 4K/UHD titles.
 

Malcolm R

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I think Disney is purposely trying to sabotage their season releases of D+ series by making them Steelbook only. They are ignoring the part of the market that might purchase these but won't pay a premium price for a superfluous hunk of metal. Then they can claim "they didn't sell well."
 

TravisR

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I think Disney is purposely trying to sabotage their season releases of D+ series by making them Steelbook only. They are ignoring the part of the market that might purchase these but won't pay a premium price for a superfluous hunk of metal. Then they can claim "they didn't sell well."
I doubt they're trying to not sell a product. I think they see Star Wars and Marvel fans as suckers who will pay for the steelbook (I'm one of them for Star Wars) and they squeeze them for the extra money. Whatever they lose from people who won't pay for the extremely high prices they charge, they make up for or exceed with the people who do.
 

Robert Harris

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Based upon pure production costs for discs and packaging, 4k discs are actually quite inexpensive. Consider a Steelbook, the cost of which, beyond design is around $4 just for the packaging.

Work backwards from vendor mark-ups, and at lower prices, discs are hardly worth publishing.

For new films, it’s a bit easier, as the master is merely a down-res, but for any film that isn’t, and will have to cover scanning, color, clean-up costs, things are worse.

Forget about restorations of anything except very major films.

For our silent film restorations, a retail of less than $35 - 40 makes a project very difficult to bring to break-even. Which is why some, even more high profile releases depend upon Kickstarter to remove the risk, allowing them to create the project and reap some benefits.

For those situations, public funding works beautifully, and most deal with it honorably, covering real costs. There was one major aberration, with funds more than paying double costs. All smoke and mirrors. And for the record that entity involves no one who posts here regularly,

The realty is that discs, especially 4k are incredibly inexpensive. But streaming is always the alternative.
 
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Ronald Epstein

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jcroy

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Personally, I almost never buy discs upon their initial release anymore, as the initial prices are higher than I am willing to pay. The days of first week discounts are long gone. I wait for a price drop or sale instead - - or opt for the digital streaming version if it hits my price point first.

(This is strictly a personal anecdotal experience, and will not generally be applicable to anybody else).


In practice I've found that if I have to "wait" for a significant discount on a particular title, then there was an extremely high probability that such title will end up only be watched once by me (or never watched at all).

Nowadays my general rule of thumb for buying any upcoming title, is if I'm not willing to do a pre-order, then there is a high probability that such disc(s) will end up collecting dust on my bookshelf without ever being watched at all.
 

jcroy

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A recent prominent case of this for me, is that I decided it wasn't worthwhile to buy the Oppenheimer bluray.

Instead, I ended up re-reading the Oppenheimer biography book that the movie was based on.
 

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