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Warner Offers Film ‘Archive’ Direct to Consumer

23 Mar, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel


Taking a page from direct-response marketing, Warner Home Video March 23 launched an online manufacturing-on-demand (MOD) DVD program that allows consumers to select titles from the studio’s vaunted classic film library and have them shipped directly to their homes or downloaded immediately.

Dubbed the “Warner Archive Collection,” consumers can visit www.warnerarchive.com to browse title selections and place an order, typically $19.95 per DVD and $14.95 for the electronic edition. Movies earmarked for physical delivery are replicated via a third-party service (believed to be Hewlett-Packard's MOD service), packaged in an Amaray case with custom artwork, shrink-wrapped and shipped.

Among the initial 150 movie selections, which also feature MGM and RKO titles, include Oscar nominee Sunrise at Campobello with Ralph Bellamy, The Citadel starring Rex Harrison, Mr. Lucky with Cary Grant and Charles Bickford, Possessed starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, Once Upon a Honeymoon with Grant and Ginger Rogers, and All Fall Down starring Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint.

All titles have been digital remastered and include the original theatrical trailer. Future content earmarked for MOD includes episodic television and WB’s heralded animation collection.

George Feltenstein, SVP of catalog titles for WHV, said the two-and-a-half-year project represented an expedited means to bring to market Warner’s library of 4,100 films, of which only 1,200 have been released on DVD.

“With shrinking shelf space and a shrinking retail base, we were looking for a way to get the movies to the people who wanted them,” Feltenstein said.

He said the MOD program was not a response to the economy or reported downturn in DVD sales. Instead, he said it would generate incremental revenue paramount toward sustaining the studio’s catalog business.

Feltenstein said heretofore only titles with projected sales from 15,000 and 20,000 units warranted a DVD production run. He said MOD removed those restrictions.

“Many are very specialized and never even got released on VHS,” he said. “Many of these films we have been beleaguered with requests for years. It gives consumers a virtual key to the vault, if you will. It’s a big win for collectors.”

Independent analyst Rob Enderle said Warner’s decision to go MOD on its catalog made sense due to the limited shelf space available for niche titles.

“This is revenue that has been left on the table because buyers and product haven’t been able to come together,” Enderle said.  “By doing this, Warner is showcasing creative thinking that contributes strongly to its bottom line. In times like this, decisions like this often stand out as brilliant.”


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