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Having A Packaging Breakdown

10 Jul, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I love the great catalog stuff Warner Home Video is putting out. The Charlie Chaplin set is a gem, and the upcoming “Legends” release, with such classics as Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is certainly a must-buy in my book.

But I wonder how many DVD collectors are turned off by those flimsy cardboard cases Warner uses for virtually all of its releases? Put one up against the plastic “keep case” most of the other studios use and it's like a paperback against a hardback — one you use and toss out, the other you keep.

Now, I think I have a pretty good understanding of the Warner mentality. Even though Warren Lieberfarb is gone, the mantra there is still one of mass distribution, widespread availability and low price points. I don't like it, but I can see how using the “snapper” makes sense, particularly since it's made by one of Warner's sister companies.

But for wonderful, restored “special editions” with a list price of $20, couldn't they spend a few pennies extra and put these films in real boxes? These “Legends” are aimed at diehard movie collectors, not some teen who impulse-buys Animatrix, watches it a few times with his buds, then sells it or trades it at one of the growing fleet of used-DVD stores we're starting to see spring up all over the place.

Let me go even further in my bone-picking — which, incidentally, I hope the good folks at Warner will accept in the constructive spirit it's given — and talk about the Chaplin collection.

Warner really went to town on this one, with a screening at Cannes, a tie-in with Turner Classic Movies and all sorts of other elaborate marketing strategies.

And yet when I opened my copy of Modern Times, I found myself staring at a jumble of cracked plastic fragments. It seems Warner has come up with yet another DVD package that might be even worse that the dreaded “snapper crapper,” as it's known on the DVD chat-room circuit.

This one's cardboard on the outside and highly breakable plastic on the inside.

Come on, guys! Give me a break.

No, on second thought, don't.

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