Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Criterion Collection Turns To Blu-ray In November

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Criterion Collection, with sales and distribution support provided by Image Entertainment, announced its November release schedule this past week … and there’s a twist to it.

Beginning with the Nov. 12 release of City Lights and Frances Ha the only SKUs being offered will be Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs for new product offerings.   Filmmaker Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights is not among the Chaplin films released previously by Criterion on DVD, so this will be an interesting test — will collector’s pop for the extra ten bucks to add this gem to their collections?

For those unfamiliar with writer/director Noah Baumbach black and white arthouse comedy, Frances Ha, this is a recent theatrical release making its home entertainment debut.   The Blu-ray only approach has been attempted 24 previous times between 2011 and 2013 (mainly by Sony Pictures), so the jury is out on what sales are gained or lost by upping the cost and excluded a portion of the over market.   
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
In the case of Frances Ha, starring Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote), the arthouse nature of the film and its limited theatrical exposure (ticket sales were good considering the platform … $4,001,585) probably has a limited reach.   The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack might be perfectly acceptable for those drawn to its quirky narrative.

As to bonus goodies (which are included on both the Blu-ray and DVD editions — that does give Criterion the option to breakout the DVD at a later date), City Lights includes commentary from Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance (“Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema”), the silent short film (1915), The Champion, the documentary titled Chaplin Today: City Lights and the featurette “Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThe Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack for Frances Ha sports three separate video interviews (conversations), including one between auteur filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and director Noah Baumbach.

The following week, Nov. 19, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack of Japanese filmmaker Yasujirô Ozu’s 1953 film, Tokyo Story, will be offered.   In 2003 Criterion released a double-disc DVD edition and that appears to be what is included here along with newly-prepared Blu-ray disc.

The Blu-ray version is a newly minted 4K restoration, so collectors will have a new look at the details of this film classic.   Also included is the feature-length documentary I Lived, But …, plus a 40-minute featurette titled “Talking with Ozu” and the vintage commentary track featuring Yasujiro Ozu and film scholar David Desser.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Last up on Nov. 26 is the massive Blu-ray (only) collection titled Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman.   All 25 films in the series are included in the collection — they were previously released by the now defunct Home Video beginning in 2002 with an SRP of $19.95 each.   So the special buy-direct price of $179.95 that the Criterion Collection is offering for this stunning Blu-ray collection (all-new digital restorations) is actually quite a good deal for collectors drawn to this samurai series. 

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

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