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Warners Announces DVDs on Demand

 
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 09:02 am
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group (WBHEG), today announced the debut of the "Warner Archive Collection" (WarnerArchive.com), a selection of movies spanning more than 60 years of filmmaking never before available on DVD. The world's largest film and television vault is finally open to consumers who can now purchase authentic DVD and digital downloads of more than 150 classic titles for the first time drawn from Warner Bros. Entertainment's unparalleled film library consisting of pre-1986 MGM, RKO Radio Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures films. They include Academy Award nominee Sunrise at Campobello, The Citadel, Mr. Lucky, and many others from the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond.

To order their movies, fans visit WarnerArchive.com, select their titles, and upon purchase, a state-of-the-art manufacturing on demand (MOD) system creates a made-to-order DVD indistinguishable in quality from a standard pressed DVD. The system places the DVD into a hard plastic Amaray case featuring custom artwork; shrink wraps it and ships the finished package to the customer which arrives in approximately five days. The cost per title is $19.95, plus shipping. Alternatively, movie fans can purchase digital downloads of these classic films to enjoy immediately on their PC. The cost for a digital download is $14.95 per title.

Initially the Warner Archive Collection offers 150 sought after titles including Possessed starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford; Once Upon a Honeymoon starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers; and All Fall Down starring Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint. Every month approximately 20 classic films and television programs will be added and by year's end more than 300 titles will be available online. For a complete list of current titles visit WarnerArchive.com.

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I don't usually post press releases, but for fans of classic Hollywood movies, this is a noteworthy development. Although the major studios have done a good job of getting out their most popular movies in DVD format, there are thousands of films that still are unavailable to the home viewer. Warner Bros. has not only its own archive of films, but it also has the MGM library as well as many movies from United Artists and RKO -- a real treasure trove of classic movies.

Some of the films available now are real curiosities, including some early pairings of Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, and a few films starring Marion Davies, best known as William Randolph Hearst's mistress. Also included are some films that, by right, should have been released on DVD long ago, including Rasputin and the Empress (MGM 1932), the only film to star all three of the Barrymores, Tugboat Annie (MGM 1933), with Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery, and Love (MGM 1927), the steamy adaptation of Anna Karenina starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert.

You can also go to the site and vote for titles to be added to the list. As the press release states, there are 150 films available, with more to be added each month. It will be interesting to see if this sort of thing is successful, and if other studios with large film libraries (Universal, Columbia, 20th Century-Fox) will follow suit.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 2,435 • Replies: 8
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parados
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 09:49 am
@joefromchicago,
Thanks for posting Joe.

I read the story and then forgotten it.

(BM - reminder)
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 01:43 pm
@parados,
Yeah, thanks! I can think of a number of Warner Bros. films that aren't on DVD I'd like to have. I mostly try to burn DVD's from TCM, but admittedly it's time consuming and I get lazy. HDNet has the best prints in 1080i HD and I've managed to burn two discs from my DMR hard drive (which downscales the movie to 480p, but it still looks better than store bought DVD's!)
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 06:09 pm
@Lightwizard,
I imagine that many of these movies have already appeared on TCM, since that's the Warners cable outlet.

Warners does a very good job with its old films, something I wish I could also say about Universal. The archive DVDs won't have the same kind of extras that Warners DVDs usually have (like shorts and cartoons, along with commentary tracks), but the studio will put some effort into restoring the films that it releases in its DVD-on-demand service. That says a lot about the studio and how it approaches the job of film restoration/preservation.

The only question I have left is whether they are commissioning new musical scores to accompany the silent films in this offering.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 07:55 pm
@joefromchicago,
How about the Looney Tunes. Do they have a , say 10 on a disk , set?
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2009 08:23 am
@farmerman,
There are a bunch of Looney Tune DVDs. Warners also puts cartoons on many of its feature film DVDs as part of its "Night at the Movies" packages. The studio does a very good job of matching the films with cartoons, shorts, and newsreels made the same year, so that a 1939 film, for instance, will be paired with a 1939 cartoon and a 1939 newsreel. My guess is that the Looney Tunes collections are mostly from the 1950s and later -- if you want earlier ones (like the ones where Bugs Bunny is actually "bugsy" and not just a wise-cracking urban lagomorph), you'll need to get some of the Warners features on DVD.
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2009 09:24 am
@joefromchicago,
The picture quality is going to be superior on the Warner Bros. disc version over TCM, except the older non-wide screen I receive digitally in 480p (which on my TV, I can upscale to 1080p). When they letterbox a Super Panavision film, it's cover only half of the screen which means the resolution is cut in half, which is back to VHS picture quality. I can't even watch my old VHS tapes with the noise reduction on. They look blurry, especially fuzzy around sharp edges, are either, again, letterboxed prints available but when one zooms up the image, even if it's from a 35MM print, it's immediately dissapointing. The older 4:3 ration films look better!
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2009 11:11 am
@Lightwizard,
I am amused when I see a DVD package saying that the movie is shown "in its original aspect ratio," only to discover that the original aspect ratio is 4:3. Who changes the aspect ratio of a film that is shot in 4:3?
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 May, 2009 11:42 am
@joefromchicago,
I just caught this -- I'm thinking they have that set up to print on all DVD boxes and then the actual ratio is shown elsewhere. I've never bought a DVD where the original film was 4:3 and they did their own stretch-the-image process, so that is amusing. They know most people have that feature on their wide screens. Now cable channels like TBS have a habit of showing a wide screen film and actually showing the 4:3 version stretched. They do use the trick of cutting off a little of the top and bottom so the actors don't gain too much weight (wide zoom) on most TV aspect menus. This is their hi-def channels, so, of course, a lot of resolution is lost and you're getting a pan-and-scan image that's been stretched. Gradually that's disappearing (I'd rather rent the movie and watch it even in 420p if a Blu-Ray isn't available).
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