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David Poland

By David Poland

Potter DVD Freeze

When I read about the removal of Potter DVDs from shelves on Jan 1, my first thought wasn’t Disney, but rebranding with improved price points. I think they’re just clearing inventory. As you can see below, WB themselves are now selling Blu-ray for $9 a pop for the first 7 films. They are pushing out a big $35 package with a book and other toys for the last film, which hits shelves next week and will be looking to be a hot holiday gift.

But my expectation after the removed product will be a relaunch of Potter as the first fully integrated all-platform franchise release. I wouldn’t expect the relaunch to take more than a few months. Buy it for, say, $25, and get Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet. You can have Harry with you anywhere at anytime. Download it to your portable player if you like… or stream it… or watch it on your TV. Your call. Own the whole series of 8 movies for $150 and you’re set to have Potter for life.

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7 Responses to “Potter DVD Freeze”

  1. Mike says:

    I think pricing like that will only drive piracy or more likely, the software for people to rip their own blu-rays. Think what a difference it made when iTunes showed up and even your parents could figure out how to rip a cd. Why pay $10-$15 extra for essentially a service charge when you already feel like you’re buying the film on disc? I think there’ll be an argument that the price should go down for streaming (no physical material to produce), not way up. It’s the same argument that helped fuel the hatred for the music industry.

  2. David Poland says:

    So what number would be fair, Mike?

  3. Mike says:

    I don’t really know – actually, I think it’s too early for studios to think they can get very far offering streaming on individual titles. Apple is still rolling out their iCloud and Amazon is still working on their cloud. The smart thing for both is they’ll be subscription packages that will continue to roll in money month to month or year to year.

    Maybe Warners should be looking at this as an opportunity to roll out their own streaming service. If $25 is too expensive per title, how about $10 per bluray and the first month of Warners version of Netflix for free?

  4. David Poland says:

    That number would suggest that there is no future for copyrighted materials being sold.

    The blu-ray number has already shrunk by 40% or so. $10 DVDs is what destroyed the DVD business in the first place.

    Truth is, I think the long-term reality is a bit like you frame it. $10 a month or $15 a month for access to all WB content everywhere every format. But that is a major paradigm shift to subscription models and you can’t really do it part way.

  5. Mike says:

    I think that’s a good question, though: Is there a future in copyrighted material being sold if there is no more physical media? Who would buy a streaming copy of Potter if they get it as part of their cable-like streaming? Or would it be like Apple’s iCloud, where you’re only streaming the individual titles you buy through the Warner-version of iTunes? I think if a studio commits to that, they can’t also commit to a Netflix-like streaming service. As you said, they can’t do it part way.

    But that begets more questions. Where is there more money to be made – one time sales or subscription? Could a studio replace their DVD income with a streaming subscription if the subscribers know they’ll get every movie a studio puts out at the beginning of the DVD window? Would that kill rental or make it a more popular alternative?

    I can see why the studios are taking their sweet time getting into the streaming business, but they’re also letting Apple and Amazon – two companies a lot bigger and harder to push around than Netflix – stake out the early territory.

  6. LexG says:

    They have most of them in the Vons DVD bin in SD for 5.99 each.

    They also have one copy of Harriet the Spy left.

  7. MarkVH says:

    That’s the whole issue, though, isn’t it Mike (and DP)? What’s going to create a more sustainable source of revenue for the studios – charging somebody like Netflix (or Amazon/Hulu/Apple/take-your-pick) through the nose to stream your content, or selling it to consumers directly and letting them watch it across devices (via Ultraviolet)? Is there room for both? And understanding the path that DVD took, are the studios even thinking about sustainability of revenue or how to maximize short-term profits?

    The studios seem to be committed to Ultraviolet as a way to extend the life of the DVD market, but it seems to me that to truly commit to it, they have to make a decision one way or the other on streaming via the available solutions. This is why it seems like the Netflix-for-crappy-reality-TV seems to make sense (though it seems a shitty proposition for growth potential), as people don’t really seem interested owning that content. But for movies – especially premium, new release movies – it feels like offering this via streaming or On-Demand is going to kill your potential UV/Blu revenue. It’s like they want the highs of both the VHS rental model AND the DVD sell-thru model, without realizing that at some point they’ll have to make a choice between them.

    So many questions. All I know is that I have about 1,200 DVDs and about 100 Blus (and yes Lex, it’s been years since I watched some of them, leaving me to wonder what it was all for), and at some point I’m assuming there’s going to be a legal way for me to rip them into digital. There’d better be.

    All fascinating stuff.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

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My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon