Mid-Week Poll: Criterion Dual-Format Editions

These days, it’s pretty common for home video studios to bundle DVD copies of movies in the same package with their Blu-ray releases. This is seen as a so-called “added value.” However, most studios continue to issue separate DVD-only editions simultaneously, usually at a lower price point. After all, DVD continues to dominate the market. Recently, the Criterion Collection announced a bold decision to only release consolidated dual-format editions. Do you support this move? Vote in our poll.

Starting in November with the releases of ‘City Lights‘, ‘Frances Ha‘ and even the 25-film ‘Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman‘ box set, Criterion will no longer issue separate DVD and Blu-ray copies of titles being newly added to the collection. All new releases (except the budget Eclipse line, which will continue to be DVD-only) will contain both Blu-ray and DVD in the same package, and will be sold for the original Blu-ray price point. A spokesman for the company explains the rationale for the decision and how it will work in this article.

Personally, although I have no need for the DVD copies, I’m fine with this strategy so long as the prices don’t go up beyond what we’d typically pay for a Criterion Blu-ray anyway. In fact, I’m surprised that more studios haven’t already gone this route, as the first step toward phasing out DVD and encouraging consumers to collect Blu-rays.

Are you down with this as well, or are you upset by the decision? Tell us in our poll.

What Do You Think of Criterion's Dual-Format Editions?

View Results

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  1. Doesn’t bother me as long as we don’t see a price increase over the next year or two. I’d rather see Criterion get out of the DVD business altogether (someone needs to be the first) and offer digital copies instead of DVDs with the Blu-rays.

    • Josh Zyber

      Criterion still does a lot of business with institutions such as schools, which can be slow to upgrade to new technology. DVDs are pretty universal at this point, but I’d imagine that Digital Copies could be more problematic there, especially if they go with UltraViolet, which relies on streaming.

  2. Major chuckles for the last two options of the poll.
    I’m one of the poor unfortunate souls without Region A-playback capabilities. As such, I have never purchased a single Criterion release. I envy you guys.

  3. Jason

    when I first heard about this I about flipped my $#it thinking that Criterion were going the flipper-disc route. I fully support the dual format method and don’t understand why other distributors don’t follow it. Just from a business standpoint the savings in having to print/produce/ship two separate formats should make this an easy call.

    • Because they know that the non BluRay buying public will never pay what they are asking for BluRays just to get DVD’s. Criterion does not have that problem since most times its people like us or institutions that will eventually upgrade anyway, this way they will have the HiDef versions when they do.

      I did the same thing with the 3D versions of major films that I bought on Blu the past few years, but only just got a 3D set a month or so back.

  4. I am really wondering, why there are still DVD’s coming out. Anybody who ever watched a movie in HD doesn’t wanna go back. So, all these crappy all in one packs, with BD, DVD, Digital Download are IMHO just moneymakers. Give me the BD and some extra footage and I am a happy fellow.

    • I don’t understand either, since now there are plenty of portable Blu-ray players on the market. The excuse for including a DVD used to be in case you had a portable player or incase you hadn’t upgraded to Blu-ray yet. But new players are so cheap now, that’s no longer an excuse.

      • William Henley

        The excuse for DVD is gret if you have young kids – put an old tube TV and a cheap DVD player in their room and give them the DVDs to mess with (of course it would make even more sense to just copy the DVDs and put the originals up somewhere). Keep your Blu-Rays in the family room and only mom or dad can touch them.

        Truthfully, discs are cheap to press, at like a penny a disc. I say throw the DVDs in.

        • William Henley

          Was thinking about this a bit more – what would really be great is, if in doing this, they dropped the price of Blu-Rays down to the price of DVDs. From a manufactoring standpoint, there is no reason for the premium. But I doubt it will happen

          • Josh Zyber

            It’s not just about the manufacturing. You also have to take into account authoring costs. They now have to author both a DVD and a Blu-ray, and sell them both together for the price they would previously only sell one.

          • William Henley

            Poor argument:




            Disc authoring is not that hard top do. In fact, PacificDisc there says they use Sony Scenarist and Adobe Encore. In Encore, you can actually build one disc and use the same template to export either DVD or Blu-Ray. I’ve done it before. Really useful if you have HD content but know all your viewers won’t have Blu-Ray players.

            And those are outsourcing prices. Granted, they are not doing stuff for big studios most likely, but not every movie needs full motion menus with BD-Java and stuff. If you are just throwing in the movie, a few subtitles, a few audio options, and maybe a couple of trailers, and maybe a couple of video clips from the movie or a still image publicity photo, a single tech could author a disc in under a day.

            Now if you are talking like Terminator 2 Skynet Edition, yeah, that probably took a while to author, that wouldn’t be done in something like Encore or Scenarist, wouldn’t be exported to DVD, and costs considerably more to author. However, as the discs sells at most places for under $10…

            You could argue about the cost of rescanning and remastering the content, but if you are using the same master to make your DVDs as well, then there is no cost difference.

            The point is, the costs associated with disc production and authoring does not justify the premium of $5 to sometimes $20 price difference between the DVD and the Blu-Ray, especially for a studio that does all of this inhouse.

  5. William Henley

    LOL, I was going to pick “I wholly support this decision”, but the “Criterion only releases Artsy Fartsy movies anyway” was a much better decision.

    Truthfully, this makes sense to me. It cuts down on shelf space at retailers, it cuts down on the costs of having to produce multiple packages for the same material, helps reduce overstock or understock of a particular format… I expect Funimation will probably be the next studio to go this route. It’s most likely going to be your studios that hit Niche markets that will be pushing for this.

    What would be nice is if they would pass the cost savings on to us, but I doubt it will happen.

    As for the DVD versions, I give them to my parents. They have HDTVs and Blu-Ray players, but they are the cheap Wal-Mart televisions, and their largest is 42 inch – the others are 32s. One 32 is 720p the other is 1080i. So as such, I just gave my mom about 40 DVDs of movies she didn’t have. They don’t care about cover art – all their movies are in boxes tucked away in the entertainment center.

  6. myka

    You’ll be surprised how many people still buy DVD’s. BD is great,but DVD’s is still a universal format it will be some time before they are phased out. BD’s been around still 06’& not a lot has changed with the format change since then.

  7. Daniel Rowen

    ALL studios have started doing this, have oyu not noticed how many of the last few blu-rays you bought were Blu-ray/DVD Combo packs? I have SO many DVD’s I’ve never touched and never really wanted to buy (especially where I had a DVD already and was upgrading to a blu-ray). I think this helps them charge more and then save on shelf space

    • Josh Zyber

      The point here is that Criterion is discontinuing their DVD-only releases (except for the Eclipse line). None of the majors have done that.

  8. Ross Gauthier

    I use my DVD’s as coasters. If I spend upwards to $30 or $40 on a BD I want to watch the BD not a DVD. Cut the price and just give me what I want.

  9. Dave T

    So any future 2-disc bluray (think On the Waterfront) would need to accommodate at least 4 discs, maybe 5… Do you think this might affect Criterion’s decision on how much additional content to offer – or how nice and fat of a booklet to include? Hmmm…

  10. Jeff Shultz


    I sell my Criterion DVDs (on a website) whenever I upgrade to the Blu-ray. From my actual selling experience, Criterion has lost a lot of the demand for DVD titles. Sales of my Criterion DVD titles are much slower now than 24 months ago. I’m sure Blus dominate their sales and getting stronger all the time. If I’m correct in my observation, it makes perfect sense for them to keep the DVDs available, but only market one sku per film. I’ll just sell the DVD out of the new releases (at lower prices than before) because I’m getting both formats for the same price as I used to pay for Blu-ray only.

  11. At what point will Criterion (and others) discontinue producing dvds at all? That makes the most sense to me. There’s no excuse in this day and age to not be able to afford a Blu Ray player. Even if you still don’t quite have that big flat screen you’ve been saving for, that player will downconvert the movie to 480i/p for you!

    • William Henley

      Have you tried reading some of those menus from a Blu-Ray on an SD television? Its awful! Aliasing is horrible on text!

      Also, 4×3 content encoded on a Blu-Ray will show on an SD television pillarboxed all the way around. Really annoying.

      The downconverted video also tends to look worse than a DVD on the same set.

      So yes, Blu-Ray players will downconvert, but the quality is really lacking. This is probably because players probably use cheap hardware to downconvert, as the thought is “why would anyone spend money on Blu-Rays to watch in SD?” and is probably added to most players as an afterthought.

      I do know I have friends who have their Blu-Ray player hooked up to their HDTV with the SD connectors – for the life of us, we can’t figure out what the freak is wrong with the HDMI. I plan to get this fixed eventually, but we had set their player up for SD as she originally did just have an SD television, but I can’t figure out how to get it out of this mode. I can’t figure out how to do a factory reset on this player either. Really annoying.

  12. Jim B

    Most libraries will only purchase DVD’s. So if this is the only way Criterion can service institutional buyers I’m all for it. Most of you would be very surprised how many seniors rely exclusively on libraries for DVD’s which are still the universal format choice.

    • EM

      Near me is a great public library that unfortunately does not yet do Blu-ray but does do a nice job of stocking DVDs. I have found that this library is often quick to purchase DVDs I have suggested. However…I have found that the library does not stock DVDs that are available only via Blu-ray–DVD combo packages. I hope that Criterion’s move does not spell an end to the library’s Criterion purchases but an expansion of the library’s acquisitions. I’d love to see the library start carrying Blu; but failing that, I’d like to at least see it start carrying the DVDs from the combo titles I have sometimes desperately wanted it to acquire.

      • William Henley

        I was shocked when libraries started stocking DVDs and video games, and now E-books (although the DRM on my e-reader has never worked right – it does on the Kindle app on my phone, but the Kobo is notorious for having broken DRM – there are entire forums set up for people not able to access books they purchased, and having to rebuild the SQL database on the device). If Artsy-Fartsy films are only carried on Blu or Blu / DVD combos, I am sure they will start stocking Blu-Rays before too long.

  13. OK with me if it doesn’t mess up the packaging. What type of case will be used? Cardboard would not be acceptable. I like those clear plastic cases.