Criterion Reverses Direction on Blu-ray Packages
June 21, 2014

Last fall, Criterion announced that they would no longer give customers a choice between buying DVDs or Blu-ray format. Instead, they would release only combo packs, with both formats, due to production costs.

Criterion Dual-Format

However, they’ve now changed that plan. From their blog:

… no one seemed particularly happy with the solution. Blu-ray customers didn’t like making room for DVDs they didn’t want, and DVD customers didn’t like paying more to get a Blu-ray they couldn’t play. We soon found that we had to start releasing stand-alone DVD editions alongside the dual-format ones because a fairly large proportion of our audience has not made the leap to Blu-ray yet. And once we had separate DVD editions, what was the point of putting DVDs in with the Blu-rays? A good question.

With that in mind, when we announce our September titles at the beginning of next week, we’ll be going back to releasing separate DVD and Blu-ray editions. In most cases, the contents of the releases will be the same in both formats. This may come as welcome news to many of you and perhaps as a disappointment to some, but please know that we’ll keep thinking and listening, experimenting and exploring, so do let us know your thoughts and preferences.

It’s very welcome to see a company so responsive to customer feedback, although the comments following this post at their site demonstrate in copious quantity that you can’t please everyone. Those who liked having two copies of the film, so they could choose which version to watch, are particularly disappointed, although those satisfied by DVD are happy to return to getting a discount on their purchases by comparison.

Apparently, some combo pack buyers were selling the DVD half on eBay to recoup some of their outlay, which may have factored into the decision.

8 Responses  
Dwight Williams writes:  

Agreed. Good on Criterion for taking this decision.

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

Wow, I never thought this would be an issue. I mean, isn’t Criterion a line of home theater releases for movie snobs? And I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s just that they curate their line so heavily, that I would guess their target audience are the kind who, by 2014, would have bought a Blu-ray player because they want the best video and audio quality.

But they see the numbers and they would know better than I would…

Johanna writes:  

Apparently, based on reading comments, there is a significant portion of their audience who are movie snobs but can’t afford to update setups that work well for them. I sympathize with that attitude, because I hate getting rid of working stuff just because someone thinks I should be paying more for their releases.

Mark writes:  

I find it is not a matter of getting rid of stuff that doesn’t work… Blu Ray is a better format, that is 4x the resolution of a DVD so watch a DVD for a movie that has had special treatment to be a “Criterion” movie is useless. If you’re not wanting the best possible picture then buy it in it’s standard release format. I would have just cut the DVD portion completely…. I guess they could fire up the VHS factory again….

Johanna writes:  

My favorite Criterion releases are the movies they’ve done from the 30s and 40s, and for those, there’s no need for Blu-ray resolution, because the source just doesn’t justify it. I’d rather get a DVD — not only is it cheaper, but I can play it so many more places, like on my laptop. I’m not a quality geek, so the convenience matters more to me.

Mark writes:  

one of my favorite movies is to Kill a Mockingbird. It looks fine on DVD… But it looks Great in Blu-Ray. It’s crystal clear, the shading looks great for a B&W and it is just a better version. Same thing with 12 Angry Men… Looks great in HD. some of the greatest movies were done in B&W and on my 55″ TV DVD doesn’t cut it anymore.

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

The biggest thing is the quality of the transfer. Sometimes, the Blu-ray looks better just because the process of scanning and cleaning up the original film makes a load of difference. The modern transfer techniques are so much better than they were when DVDs first started. And people are willing to spend the money on it more now than back then.

Johanna writes:  

We’re comparing a Criterion DVD to a Criterion Blu-ray, though, so I can’t imagine that they’d be using different transfers for the two editions.


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