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Ex-Studio Chief: DVD Retail Downturn ‘Self-Imposed’

29 Sep, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel


Bill Mechanic


As former chief at 20th Century Fox Studios, and before that a key figure in launching Disney’s home video efforts, Bill Mechanic has earned the right to weigh in on the current state of packaged media sellthrough, including Blu-ray Disc.

As keynote speaker Sept. 29 at the Independent Film & Television Alliance's production conference in Santa Monica, Mechanic, now an independent producer, said the maturation and saturation of DVD movies and TV DVD was a logical conclusion to the destruction of the price-value relationship in home video by the studios and low-priced rental alternatives such as Redbox.

“If I can buy Titanic for under $5 in some stores, why am I so eager then to rush out to pay $30 or so when it’s released on Blu-ray?” Mechanic said. “Is the quality that great? How many formats are yet to come?”

Mechanic said studio executives over the past few years have been more concerned about making budget than understanding changing market forces. He questioned why the industry was so intent on pushing Blu-ray onto consumers during a recession, or even if it was the next great app.

“They simply accepted the idea that they could resell their libraries at higher prices,” he said.

The executive said economically conscious consumers when faced with the choice between Legally Blonde for $5 or All About Steve for $20, will think twice about purchasing the new release.

Mechanic said the film business would always experience peaks and valleys, but great movies such as Twilight, Slumdog Millionaire, District 9 and Coraline would always prosper, regardless of the format and distribution channel.

“It’s not that the buyers aren’t there,” he said. “Consumers, TV outlets, retailers and yes, even pirates, want what works.”
 


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