Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Death of DVD

Tim Cavanaugh bemoans the inevitable demise of DVD:

Where is the DVD, or the VHS, or even the laserdisc, of the 1932 version of Madame Butterfly with Cary Grant as Pinkerton, Sylvia Sidney as Cho-Cho San, and a script by Joseph Moncure March? A world without a home video version of Ernst Lubitsch's last film, the sterling Jennifer Jones girl-plumber dramedy Cluny Brown, is what Krusty the Clown meant when he said "survivors would envy the dead." The beauty of DVD was that it coincided with and helped inspire vast institutional support for exploiting back catalogues. Gone were the shitty prints and full-screen atrocities of the VHS era; in came the vogue for complete collections, crisp transfers, and rediscovered sleepers. But the job is not yet done, and I suspect the market for DVD will run out before the back catalogues do.

What Mr. Cavanaugh is missing is that the new technology will be cheaper for studios since they will not have to pick up the production costs of physical media and run the risk of product sitting on a shelf someplace.  The low/no-cost  inventories will make it easier for studios to justify digitizing old movies that very few people want to see because there is almost no real risk.  Fans of obscure vintage movies (and likely the classic made for TV movies as well) should welcome the medialess revolution.

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