Warner Movie DVDs Will All Have Blu-Ray
December 17, 2009

From their press release:

Beginning in the first quarter of 2010, Warner Home Video will be releasing its entire Theatrical New Release slate as Blu-ray combo packs, containing a Blu-ray disc of the film with exclusive special features and exciting BD-Live interactivity, a standard-definition DVD, and a Digital Copy of the film. For no additional cost, Blu-ray combo packs offer consumers significantly more value by merging the unsurpassed quality of Blu-ray with the convenience of being able to watch the film in any format, on just about every playback device.

Update: It was pointed out to me that I was likely jumping to conclusions. This doesn’t say “no more DVDs”, it may just be announcing that “all movie releases will get Blu-ray” instead of just some. So thanks, Andrew, for pointing that out, and bad me for rumor-mongering.

Somehow, that bit about “no additional cost” just isn’t ringing true to me. I guess I won’t be buying any new Warner movies on DVD next year. Especially since it sounds as though the special features — the only reason to buy discs — won’t be accessible without a Blu-ray player.

This strikes me as driving more viewers towards downloads and online copies. But then, they’re already moving that way, which is why the movie studios are clinging to Blu-ray so fiercely. Warner is crowing about increased Blu-ray adoption, of course.

Blu-ray devices … are projected to be in 15 million U.S. homes by the end of this year.

However, as of 2007, there are over 110 million US households. So they’re making this decision to serve under 20% of the population.

23 Responses  
Ed Sizemore writes:  

That seems like such a waste. People with Blu-ray will have a disc that serves no purpose and people with standard DVD players will have one or two discs that serve no purpose. So did Warner Brothers invest in landfills? Sounds like a ‘let’s make everyone equally miserable’ scenario.

Joshua Macy writes:  

The marginal cost of the extra disc with the standard DVD is quite small compared to the typical retail price, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see them sticking with the price-point of their existing Blu-Ray releases at least for a while. I don’t have any idea whether they current price Blu-Ray and standard DVDs the same for new releases.

I don’t have a Blu-Ray player and have no particular intention of getting one. Fortunately all the major studios are sticking firmly to their policy of not producing any movies I want to watch, let alone own, so I’m not feeling the lack so far.

Johanna writes:  

Well, Ed, even people with Blu-Ray enjoy having the DVD for the car, portable players, computers, and the like. DVDs are playable in a lot more places than BR. (Like giving the kid in the stroller one to keep him quiet in the long line at the post office <– actually seen yesterday!)

I was expecting studios to start forcing the issue harder, since BR hasn't taken off as fast as they wanted, but I'm still surprised to see it happen this soon.

Joshua, I'm with you. I started feeling left out with this announcement — as they wanted me to — but then I realized that most of what I buy from Warner are their TV show sets, especially animation, and that isn't likely to change over soon. So if I don't want any of the Warner new movie releases, then I won't miss anything. I would have bought Whiteout, though, if they hadn't been uninterested in selling it to me.

Thom writes:  

Yeah, this surprises me that they would make this choice so soon. It’s not surprising that Blu-Ray is where it’s at for the rate of adoption, it’s pretty much moving at the same rate DVD did, but the studios aren’t being patient.

The only way I can see this working is if the Blu-Ray/DVD combos are set at a standard price of $19.99, since that seems to be the limit for a lot of people.

Argo Plummer writes:  

Yeah, I haven’t upgraded to blue-ray yet, and haven’t felt the need to. Still don’t. I hate that studios are doing this, but if the DVD version is still available, even as part of a pack, then people like me will still be able to get our hands on what we want. Maybe my step-mom (who swears by blue-ray) and I can strike up a deal–split the cost and I can get the DVD.

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

The adoption rate for Blu Ray is actually ahead of where DVD was at the same
point on it’s life cycle. And this Christmas will be huge for Blu Ray thanks to players dropping below $100 for the first time. Still, this is an odd move. Blu Ray is really only an advantage if you have a 1080p tv, not the cheaper 720p style. And screen
sizes need to be better than 40 inches to truly see the difference.

So I think they’re jumping the gun a bit here, tho we do need to thank Warner Bros (under a previous boss, grantee) for making DVD the success it was in the first place.

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

Ack. Pardon my previous typos. I know it’s versus its better than that. . .

Thad writes:  

Well, no, they’re making this decision to try to force 80% of the population to switch to Blu-Ray.

Like you say, it’s going to backfire.

Think I’ve mentioned in your comments before: a few months back I put together an HTPC, and wanted to buy a Blu-Ray drive with it, but found out that there is no Blu-Ray playback support at all on Mac or Linux, and even Windows support requires an additional $30 for PowerDVD. (There IS software to RIP Blu-Rays on Mac and Linux; the encryption hasn’t prevented them from being read, just from being played back on-the-fly. So as usual, copy protection only hurts people who want to use their product legitimately, and does absolutely nothing to stop piracy.)

I wanted to buy a Blu-Ray player, and to start building a Blu-Ray collection. But I’m not going to do it until the content providers pull their heads out of their asses (or, much more likely, the Linux and Mac developers finish cracking the encryption). I guess on the plus side, this would mean I wouldn’t have to replace my collection if the format DID finally catch on and make DVD obsolete. (A big “if” — as you say, the world’s moving toward digital distribution, and this is yet another move that will push users in that direction.)

All of which is moot as I stopped buying new-release DVD’s years ago after the umpteenth time I bought a no-frills version only to see a Special Edition release a year later.

Johanna writes:  

Argo, that’s a clever way to share. And Augie, that’s a good point about the TV — it’s not just upgrading your player, but your entire video system, too!

We have a combo VCR/DVD burner unit as part of our setup, so even if I wanted to move to Blu-Ray, that would mean adding a box, not swapping something out … and since we’ve still got a laserdisc player in the mix, I’m out of room! Seriously, we just added an Apple TV box, so I think we’re going to be moving a lot more stuff to digital/online instead of physical.

Thad, I love your point about BR on Mac. I hadn’t realized that, but it’s true: onerous copy-protection only hurts the legitimate customer.

Andrew writes:  

I don’t see where the press release says they’re no longer going to sell DVDs by themselves. Poking around the WB website I see DVDs of Whiteout and The Invention of Lying both set to be released in January, 2010. Looking around other blogs, I don’t see anyone else who’s interpreted this press release exactly as you have.

These combo packs could actually be a good thing for the library I work in, where we’re already buying a lot of new releases in both formats.

Thom writes:  

There are Blu-ray burners/players for Mac… I am waiting for the blank media to drop before that kind of investment.

Personally, my answer to going digital download? Thank but no thanks. But hey, I still prefer to read an actual book to a page on the internets. :)

Johanna writes:  

Andrew, so you’re saying that the announcement was just that EVERYTHING was going to get a combo pack? I hope so. I’d love to be wrong on this. I’ve changed the headline to reflect that. Thank you for the sensible splash of water.

Dwight Williams writes:  

Well, they’re determined to force the audience to knuckle under, then.


Shawn Hill writes:  

On the other side, the film fanatics I know swear by blue-ray, and have already upgraded their TVs to HD, and have no interest in watching my old DVDs on my old TV. I’ve never been an early adopter, but it’s made me already a mastodon in some circles.

Jim Kosmicki writes:  

How many of those players are Playstation 3’s? The total number of PS3s is about 11 million, so if they count (and I don’t know why they wouldn’t, as Sony artificially inflated the price of the system to include the Blu-Ray), there’s not really that many standalone Blu-Ray players. Or if they don’t count the PS3, then granting a certain amount of cross-ownership, the actual percentage is higher.

Anthony writes:  

I won’t be interested in Blu-Ray until it’s as cheap as DVDs are (still rather expensive, and doubt making them “combo packs” will encourage them to lower the prices anytime soon), and as easy to use as DVDs (including being able to rip them to my computer—a digital copy thrown in isn’t a sufficient substitute for me…). Until then, will pass on this attempt at forced obsolescence of a format people only fully switched to several years ago (DVDs) just for the extra expense/the DRM on Blu-Ray discs (the latter probably the main reason they’re trying to push them so hard)…

Thom writes:  

You can already rip a blu-ray to your computer as long as you have a blu-ray compatable drive and the software to do it. Technically, you cannot rip DVD’s-they are encrypted. You need special software to do that. So I am not sure why this shoud have any impact on switching to Blu-Ray. For the record, I have DVDs that are encoded in a fashion that any ripping software has trouble reading them. Disney has very solid encrypting these days, my Incredibles disc could not be ripped by three different rippers.

Every Blu-Ray I bought in the last three months cost less than the special edition DVDs. I got Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (a DVD/Blu-Ray combo) for $15.99. The prices have rapidly dropped-being within four and five dollars with DVDs. Heck, some older Blu-Rays already sell for $9.99.

Anthony writes:  

My TV is a 32″ LCD TV set bought last month; a nice set, but not a giant-sized one (which is where most of the benefit of HDTV seems to lie from what I’ve read). That, and most of my viewing these days is cartoons…

Most Blu-Ray discs I’ve seen still cost more than their DVD counterparts, plus it still costs extra to buy specifically a Blu-Ray PC drive (which still isn’t standard-issue on computers) than a DVD one (as well as what blank Blu-Ray discs run).

Aware that ripping DVDs isn’t technically “allowed” either, but the DRM on Blu-Ray seems a lot more draconian to me (if it can be changed at will by the studios).

All in all, I’ll stick with DVD for the time being, thanks…

Charles RB writes:  

At this rate, I’m going to be less likely to get a Blu-Ray player because of how pushy companies are being with the format. (Also, money. Why pay extra when DVDs still work?)

James Schee writes:  

I won my Blu-Ray player, but it was still a little costly. I had to go out and buy an HDMI cable, which in a lot of places (including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Target) was running at cheapest $40. For a CABLE to hook from the TV to the player.

Luckily there was a discount store called Big Lots in the area where I found one for $12.

I love it and my Plasma HD tv (about 40 inches I think…) and now can’t watch regular TV. Though my DVDs look great on my Blu-Ray player so I’m not replacing those I already have. Though I do try to buy new stuff in Blu-Ray, and the prices the last few months for most major releases are usually the same price (at times cheaper) than their DVD counterparts.

Will Blu-Ray eventually replace DVDs? I don’t know. Something eventually will, one thing about technology is that it keeps moving forward.

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

Don’t ever ever ever buy wires in the store. Monoprice.com is all you need. My sister needed an HDMI cable for Christmas. Could have paid $30 at Best Buy for it. Instead bought it at Monoprice with overnight shipping for less than $10. It’s where all the tech geeks go for cheap accessories, wires, etc.

I am not sponsored by nor was I paid for this endorsement. Thanks, FTC!

Thom writes:  

I know people claim you don’t see a difference until you hit 40″ and up. That was news to me. My intial HD Television was a 27″ screen, and the difference between that and my previous standard def option was…massive. And HD DVDs and Blu-Ray were miles ahead of my DVDs…so I do not buy the argument that Blu-Ray is not any good until you hit 40″…

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