Warner Brothers is releasing dozens of previously unavailable movies on DVD for the first time--but you won't be able to find them at your local Wal-Mart. Variety reports that the studio's new Warner Archive program will eventually offer hundreds of old movies and TV episodes for consumers to buy for $20 per title on an on-demand basis. Selected DVDs will then be manufactured, packaged, and shipped directly to customers within a week.
The program is launching with around 150 titles that were originally released from the 1920s through the 1980s. While some of the titles may not be familiar, many are headlined by such golden-age stars as James Stewart, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and Jean Harlow. There's also a touch of '80s cheese, with such nonclassics as "Oxford Blues" (Rob Lowe) and "Wisdom" (Demi Moore and Emilio Estevez). Available titles are already on display at warnerarchive.com (though some genres and decades weren't correctly displayed while we navigated the site).
Warner is planning to add 20 titles per month (movies and TV episodes), which should give the Vault more than 300 titles by the end of 2009. As Variety points out, the Warner catalog has more than 6,800 movies, but only 1,200 of those have been released on DVD so far--so there's a deep field of available content from which to draw.
The demand for classic and cult movies on DVD is certainly there, so I'm glad to see Warner making these movies available at a reasonable price. I just wish it would also make them available as rentals through video-on-demand services such as Amazon or Netflix. I've always wanted to see Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rain People," for instance--I just wish that I could rent a one-time viewing for $4 instead of buying it for $20.
What do you think?