If there was ever a fire in my house, there are two things I would try to save first (before my body). One would be an awesome quilt my grandmother made for me when I was like 4 years old and never go a day without touching. The second would be my DVD collection. It’s the only thing in the house (other than the quilt) that I really care about and the only thing with any real value.
Like many readers and contributors here at R3, this DVD collection is something that I’m quite proud of and just like to look at sometimes. Among the list of titles are several from the Criterion Collection, a series of important classic and contemporary films (save for Armageddon) on DVD with extra care taken for the utmost in quality and features.
As many of you know, this series takes a bit bigger toll on the pocketbook than most other, mainstream DVDs. Even used, a Criterion Collection version of a title can go for anywhere from $19 up to $100; more if it’s an out of print title. But it’s usually worth the extra price for what you get; particularly for collectors.
But now that Blu-Ray has won the battle of the format wars, what do us collectors do? Do we start to slowly replace all of our DVDs with the better format version? Maybe just some of the more important titles? Or maybe we won’t replace anything and just live with the “inferior” versions, but from here on out only purchase the Blu-Ray versions. Replacement of titles could potentially cost many thousands of dollars, not to mention hard work and time.
These aren’t new questions to be asking. It’s been going on for decades: records to cassette, VHS to DVD, etc. And people have been talking it up for a couple years now concerning Blu-Ray. But today, besides deciding if and when to switch over to Blu-Ray, we have a bit of a bigger problem to worry about on top of this. What about our beloved Criterion Collection titles? That will cost us double, likely even triple, the amount of money to replace. Well, not so fast.
A while back, we mentioned that Criterion released their first set of Blu-Ray titles. This opened up a whole slew of questions from fans and consumers. Like why should I buy a Criterion right now, not knowing if in a couple of months a blu-ray version will appear (which is a question already asked by fans regarding special editions and director’s cuts of films that come out a couple months after a title so that studios can double-dip)? What will be the cost of these new versions? And will the spine numbers be the same?
You can check out all this information at The Criterion website, but to answer the first question, Criterion states very clearly that most of the titles they offer will be a long way down the road before the Blu-Ray market is sufficient enough to warrant a replacement release. As for new releases, if Criterion believes it has a shot of “making it” in the Blu-ray market, both the Blu-ray and the standard version will be released simultaneously so that consumers can make up their own mind on which version is right for them.
But what is the best news in this latest Criterion newsletter release is that they will be offering a DVD/Blu ray exchange program. Basically, Criterion is allowing customers to mail in their standard DVD version along with $25 and Criterion will send them a brand new Blu-ray version of the title. So instead of spending $40 and being stuck with both version (or going through the hassle of selling the old one) you can easily upgrade for twenty-five bucks. Still more than a drop in the bucket for some of us, but at least Criterion is trying to make it easier on us.
There is a small catch however. You don’t get the new packaging. You only send your disc (not the plastic case) to them and in return you get JUST the disc of the Blu-ray version. So even though you’re stuck with the old packaging, you at least have the newest and cleanest version. A small price to pay that hardly seems to matter anyway as Criterion does a lovely job with it’s packaging.
So there’s the long way of saying Criterion continues it’s customer service excellence by attempting to at least help out those of us that want as high quality film as possible but without sacrificing our checking accounts – especially in these trying economic days.