Warner Brothers Launches ‘On Demand’ DVD Sales.

Posted by truecreek on March 23, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Thomas K. Arnold, Special for USA TODAY.

One of Hollywood’s biggest movie vaults is about to be opened wide.

Warner Bros. is launching an innovative “on demand” DVD initiative in which fans eventually will be able to order any of the 6,800 theatrical features in the studio’s library not available on disc and receive a custom-made DVD within a week for $20.

Only about 1,200 films in the Warner library have been released on DVD, large part because of space constraints at retail. “This news is going to make a lot of people really happy,” says George Feltenstein, senior vice president of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Home Video.

The Warner Archive Collection launches today (warnerarchive.com) with an initial slate of 150 films that have never been on DVD, such as 1943’s Mr. Lucky, with Cary Grant and Laraine Day, and 1962’s All Fall Down with Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint. The oldest film in this first wave is the 1923 silent scorcher Souls for Sale; the newest is 1986’s Wisdom, with Demi Moore and Emilio Estevez.

Plans call for 20 or more classic films and TV shows to be added each month, Feltenstein says. To order films, consumers go to the website, select titles and place orders, which are manufactured and shipped in shrink-wrapped plastic cases identical to those of commercial DVDs. Consumers also will be able to order films digitally, downloaded directly to their computers, for $15.

“Our goal is to eventually open up our entire vault,” Feltenstein says. “We’ve been working on this for three years. I’ve always said it would be great if people could buy anything in our library, and now the time has come, because the technology finally exists.”

As a general rule, films considered for release are evaluated by how well they did in the VHS era, which saw about 4,100 movies from Warner’s library released on videocassette over a span of more than 20 years. Other factors include the availability of good-quality prints, consumer requests and interest on the black market.

“Some films that are not available on DVD have gotten a lot of bootlegging,” Feltenstein says. “We track that on the Internet.”

Initially, special features will be limited to original theatrical trailers, but down the road additional extras might be added, Feltenstein says. “Right now, our focus is to get some of these movies that have been sitting in the vaults for years out there to the public, so that by Christmas we’ll have at least 350 films available,” Feltenstein says.

That’s music to the ears of film aficionados such as Mike Weldon, 64, of Costa Mesa, Calif. “I think it’s great, because there are a lot of movies out there we just don’t get exposure to anymore,” he says. “There are films I’d like to own and see every few months, but I just can’t find them anywhere.”

Scanning the initial list of titles, Weldon points to Homecoming, a 1948 romantic drama from MGM starring Clark Gable and Lana Turner. “Here’s one right now,” he says. “I’ve been looking for that everywhere.”

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