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Downsized Discs: Cinephiles Scoff, But Mainstreet America Is Poised to Buy

16 Jun, 2003 By: Stephanie Prange

DreamWorks is the latest studio to downsize some of its hit titles – release former two-disc editions as a single, cheaper disc. The studio Aug. 19 is releasing Minority Report, Shrek and Gladiator in single disc editions at $19.99. The titles formerly sold for $26.99 or $29.99.

The cadre of online disc fans (whom I affectionately call the DVD geeks) may bristle at any attempt to sell a less-than-packed DVD of these hit titles, just as they have consistently criticized the release of full-frame instead of widescreen discs. They may be especially worried if the studio discontinues selling the packed disc.

But I have to say DreamWorks and other studios that are employing this marketing strategy, including Columbia TriStar and Fox, are onto something.

Not every DVD buyer is interested in the making-of and other special features cinephiles prize. Some of them, most notably members of the mainstream audience now shifting to DVD, merely want the movie. And if a studio can give that to them for a lower price, they will buy.

So far, this downsizing usually happens in the repricing window, but I can see a demand among mainstream buyers during the initial DVD release, with two versions of a title – a low-priced, feature-only version for the casual buyer and a higher-priced version for the rabid fan.

Let's just hope, as I'm sure the DVD geeks do, that studios don't start to abandon or discontinue extras-packed discs. While all buyers may not prize them, they are the industry's ace-in-the-hole in competing against the threat of video-on-demand and other media.

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