Warner offers classics on DVD and download
By Kenneth Li in New York
March 23 2009
Warner Brothers will on Monday launch a service that makes
available hundreds - and eventually thousands - of
out-of-circulation classic movies and television shows for
downloading and on DVDs as Hollywood studios seek new markets
to offset a decline in DVD sales. ... The Warner Brothers
Archive Collection service will allow consumers to download
or buy DVDs of movies such as Possessed, starring Clark
Gable and Joan Crawford, and Once Upon a Honeymoon, which
stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, for the first time since
DVDs made their debut in 1997.
The service was developed during the past two years by
creating a DVD publishing process that is cheaper than
conventional DVD systems, which company executives said
were costly and required a minimum order of 15,000 to 20,000
The new system, which is called "manufacturing on demand,"
is designed for smaller publishing runs and involves using
a lower-cost printing process for DVD covers.
"We have developed this new methodology to monetise more
of our assets," said George Feltenstein, senior vice-president
of theatrical catalogue marketing at Warner Home Video.
"It is very expensive to put a movie on DVD through traditional
[means]," he said.
Warner's launch comes as weaker DVD sales have caused
panic in Hollywood. New-format Blu-ray disc sales have yet
to take hold and thereby take up the slack.
DVD sales in the US dropped 15 per cent in the fourth quarter
of last year. Shelf store space dedicated to DVDs has also
been crimped by the closure of big chain retailers such as
Time Warner, Warner's parent company, has dabbled with
offering vintage programmes for viewing on the internet in
the past few years, including the In2TV service launched
by its AOL division in 2006.
It also offers a system, on a small scale, which allows
consumers to order film DVDs at store kiosks. At today's
launch, 150 titles will become available with 20 more
television programmes and movies to be added each month.
By the end of this year, 300 titles will be available,
according to the company.
DVDs will cost $19.95 each and downloads will be available for
$14.95 per title. Warner Brothers' new online store can be found
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