In our quarterly assessment of classic titles released on DVD, there's no other way to put it -- it stinks. Last quarter's Score Card showing a 20% decline in output even looks good when compared to the second quarter.
Classic releases on DVD are down 133% between April and June this year when compared to last and down 68% for the year overall. The top chart (below) compares releases during the second quarter this year and last. The bottom chart compares releases for the first six months of 2009 with 2008.
- Only Sony was up last quarter, but isn't exactly blazing a trail. Although their Jack Lemmon Collection was a welcome release last month.
- Universal stayed even, but only thanks to the release of their Pre-Code Collection.
- MGM's seven releases don't look so bad, except when compared to last year's thirteen.
- Paramount is down, but at least seven are on the schedule for the next three months.
- Warner is down drastically, but the stats do not take into account the Warner Archive Collection which at present sits at 198 titles.
- Most abysmal is Fox which only released Man Hunt this quarter and has a grand total of only three titles released so far this year.
Smaller LabelsSilver Lining
- VCI is down this quarter, but up for the year overall. They're also set well for for the third quarter with 20 titles already on schedule.
- Infinity is doing well with it's TV releases and should keep a steady pace the rest of the year.
- Criterion is down with the Korda Eclipse Collection being their only recent release.
- Kino is far behind and looks to have set their pace at one release per quarter.
- Shout! Factory is behind, but has Mister Ed - Season 1 and The Patty Duke Show - Season 1 due out.
- Timeless Media had a goose egg this quarter, but will catch up with a couple of more TV shows and a couple of western features on tap.
Most understand that precipitaing the reduction of classic film releases are the overall reduced demand in the marketplace for DVDs and, of course, the economy. But, as mentioned above, Warner has released 198 Archive titles and has turned a bad situation into a boon for classic film fans. Through Archive, Warner will release at least 300 Archive titles by years end. Most of which would probably not make it to a standard DVD release.
Even more encouraging, if the 198 were added to the numbers below, overall releases would be up this year 314 to 195 over the first six months. There are no bells and whistles, and they're not restored, but at least they are out of the vaults. Hopefully the other major studios will follow suit shortly.
- Only titles that are new to DVD are counted (no "Special Editions" or Blu-ray)
- Boxed sets count the tiles in the set and not the set itself (ex. The recently released Doris Day Spotlight Collection counts as 5 and not 1)
- Re-released titles don't count, except ones that are were out of print (ex. Rembrandt in the recent Korda Eclipse Collection)
- Not included here are PD labels like Alpha
- Warner Archive titles are not included
- Yellow is for studios behind last year's pace. Green for ahead.