Warner Brothers has around 6,800 movies in their vault, but only 1,200 or so have seen the DVD shelves. Yesterday, the studio announced plans to change that through WarnerArchive.com.
The new site is an on-demand manufacturing operation which allows customers to purchase long tail titles for $19.95; they will be shipped in a shrink-wrapped case with cover art within five days of purchase.
Not all of the titles are available now, however. It’ll be a slow rollout. Warner Bros Home Entertainment has released 150 titles so far and intends to add “20 classic films and TV episodes each month” with over 300 titles expected by year’s end. As you can imagine this will endeavor will take several years, unless they ramp up availability.
Variety says that likely upcoming TV titles could include Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Bourbon Street Beat, Bronco, Lawman and Hawaiian Eye. The site even hosts polls, asking customers which films they would like to see added to the Warner Archive collection next.
The problem is that none of the movies in Warner Brothers vault are that well known. This may be worth it for diehard fans of particular movies, but I can’t say spending $20 blind would make sense to the average consumer.
Warner Brothers would have been better off making these movies available for digital download at $5 a pop. If the price is right, then they might see a tidy profit for the shear quantity of movies. But as is, I don’t see the market.
Or, create a digital movie channel, like Hulu, and make the movies available for free with ad support and links to buy the movie right at the site.