Is Price Still a Blu Barrier?

Last week, just days before Black Friday, I received a letter from a reader lamenting the high prices of Blu-ray Discs. He quoted prices from a retailer of $35 for the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood, and $32 for The Hangover. Curious fellow I am I hit Amazon and found that Robin Hood, a relatively new release, is $23 for a set including the movie on Blu-ray, DVD, and a mobile friendly Digital Copy. The Hangover was $15 for the standard Blu-ray and $24 for the Extreme Edition, which includes an extra disc and a book and other accoutrements. When I noted this to the reader, along with the fact that my, local grocery store is now carrying Blu-ray catalog titles for $9.99 he shot back some more outrage that the Avatar Extended Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, which was released on 11/16, was $22-$25, even on Amazon. This is three-disc set, which I just reviewed for our February print issue, includes three full cuts of the movie, and two full Blu-ray Discs full of hours of really incredible extras, including a terrific full length documentary. This strikes me as an extraordinarily good value, but I thought I’d ask you. Are Blu-ray software prices still to high? Do you think price is why some people are looking to move to Netflix, Apple TV and other streaming services or is that merely convenience driven? Or have the movie studios simply devalued their content after years of bargain bin pricing on DVDs?

Cal's picture

I don't think the price is that unreasonable. Before blu-ray we were paying the same price for new release DVD's, so what's the difference? If the movie is a block buster, most stores will sell it at a "sale" price for the first couple of days after it's release, and then up the price afterward. So if you really want it, buy it the day it's released. There are always lots of copies. I've also discovered a great way to increase my blu-ray library is to buy previously viewed movies from my local video rental store. Blu-ray's don't scratch as easily as DVD's, and I can can get 2 used movies for the price of 1 new one. I don't get it right away, but I don't mind waiting a few months to save some money.

David Vaughn's picture

I think the biggest hurdle Blu-ray is facing is the majority of consumers won't double-dip with a catalog Blu-ray if they already own it on DVD. Furthermore, I know a ton of people who have quit buying discs because they have hundreds of them already and they realize they rarely watch the majority of their collection and are being more selective in what they purchase. With the advent of the streaming options it gives them more reason not to buy a disc since they have easy access to it via streaming (even with the drop in quality).

John In Missouri's picture

I think the BD prices are absurd. And not just BD. Regular DVDs have gone up way more than inflation can justify. Two years ago before Circuit City went under, they routinely had new DVDs for $12 or $13, as did Walmart, on the week of release. They never had sales on BD the first week but other stores did. Usually the price for BD at other stores was $20, but went up to $26, or more, the following week. Last year at this time I definitley remember buying some new releases of BDs for $14 or $15. This year it is more like $20 on sale. Nobody will ever convince me that it cost more to make a BD than it does a DVD. Adding extra junk to a disc is a lame attempt to say the disc is worth more. I would just as soon have only the movie and nothing else on the disc. As soon as the credits start to roll, I hit stop, as do my friends. It is true that some older BDs are selling for as little as $8, but these are usually disc that are a lot older. Renting is not always an option.

Ed's picture

While some retailers do have some pretty high prices on Blu-Ray (and DVD) there are plenty of online options to get your favorite movie a lot cheaper. Yes, WalMart did have some pretty low prices last year, and yes their prices are alot higher this year, their profits were slipping some as mentioned in a financial article earlier this summer, so they raise prices to offset this. Well guess what, I buy my movies online this year, especially when WalMart was $12 higher on Back to the Future and also on Avatar SE. We just check online before we go to town, then if the local retailer is too high, then they dont get the business or any profits at all.If we think prices are high on movies now, I will point out that just 15 years ago, in the height of the laser disk era we paid on average $40 to $60 for a movie and often $100 for special editions.

Sean's picture

I honestly believe that Blu Ray prices are still too high. I love the format, and have at least more than 25 titles in my collection. However I usually end up buying them when they've been released months after it's initial Blu Ray release. I remember the mall store known as Suncoast back when they were around with their prices being $19.99 max for new releases. $12-$14 was the min for a new release. While I still occasionally buy a Blu Ray within a week of it's release because I really loved the film in theaters and am trying to get the best for my home theater. I usually end up going to eBay and purchasing it from there at a fraction of what was being sold by retailers. The Expendables was a recent release which I really wanted, but am opting to wait till the price lowers. $19.99 sounds like a great deal, but movies are coming out on a weekly basis, usually 2 at a time, that are worth owning... and I'm not going to pay $160 a month for movies. And now BD-3D is being sold for $27.99! Sounds

Frank's picture

What's really way too highly priced is BOD DVD-Rs. 24.95 for a DVD-R! That's more than most blu-rays.

Claude's picture

You can definitely find good prices on BDs if you do some internet searching. Are the prices too high? Some are too high, while others are priced well. Unless it's a super blockbuster, I will rarely pay over $20 for a new release these days.Places like Walmart and Target are offering many more in-store sales of discs that are $15 or lower which is a good sign. I realize that there is less profit in a $10 - $15 disc, but if the manufacturers could hit this price point on initial release, they would more than make that up in increased sales. As to has it's place, but it's no substitute for blu-ray picture and sound quality.

Jonathan's picture

VHS tapes used to be $100 for a new release. I think it was the video release of Batman for $20 that changed all that. Studios saw how many they could sell and followed suit. Laserdiscs (and I have many) sold for over $40.One would buy only movies they really liked. (Mike Nelson's ode to lasers was dead on). DVDs were upwards of $30 for new releases. Over the years they went down. If you wait until Black Friday every year you can get them for as low as $2. Blu-rays have followed DVDs pricing trend only much faster plus many of them come with DVD and digital copies. I picked up A Christmas Carol 3D 4-pack for the same price as a single blu-ray copy. Found it on sale, had a Disney coupon, spent $24 and have 4 for the car, one for home, one for mobile device, & one if I upgrade to 3D. Blu-ray has shown its value quicker than all previous formats. Already, after only three or four years the players are $60 and movies $8. How much cheaper do you want it? The first DVD player was $1000 (Sony)

Edmund Martinez's picture

Dont forget the pricey BD players. Thats all I got to say.

Bill's picture

I own two BR players and about 30 titles. I have to agree with the poster who said people are looking at thier vast DVD collections (mine stands at 2000+) and quickly realize that they only watch most titles once or twice. I recently have started to pick up DVDs for some older titles as they are at closeout prices. Who can go wrong with a new disc for 2 or 3 bucks? I basicly gave up new release DVD buying a few years back when I figured out it was easier to get them free from the library. I only buy BRs because the novelty of the pic and sound are still new. But, I still have gotten quite selective, I will rarley replace old DVDs unless it is one of my most favorite movies and the quality is much improved. I feel we need to get the BR players quickly down to DVD level, I know 100 bucks is nothing now, but we want Joe Sixpack intrested. Also, we need to drop movies down to 4 or 5 bucks to purchase. If we do it soon enough, then we can get people hooked on discs vs downloads. Need to do that very soon.

Shane's picture

I must be really old-fashioned. I think of $9.99 as really cheap for a good movie. Cheaper than one ticket to see a movie in a decent theater. Looking at Amazon's list of Blu-rays under $10, I see great movies with great BD transfers like Dr Strangelove for $8.99, the Reader for $6.99 and many many others. I'm blown away by that.

Bill Sobel's picture

I look at things a little differently. I love movies, and buy DVD and BD to watch the movie. It is very rare for me to watch any of the additional material that comes with most disks. With that in mind, I would like to see a Movie only version at a significantly reduced price.

Phil F's picture

If you use the Firefox browser, be sure to download the Add-On called "Priceblink"!!!!It has saved me hundreds in buying Blu rays.When you are on a site looking at the one you are interested in, it automatically pops a bar up at the top and says "You can save x percentage or x dollars if you buy here" and gives you a drop down box that lists the prices of MANY different places and tells the shipping.Plus - I don't always mind if a blu ray is used, as long as the seller lists it in "like new" condition, has a good rating, and stands behind their claim. I have come across some really good deals this way and almost cringe when I see a poor guy spending 35$ at Barnes and Noble for a disc who NO ONE else sells for that price.What are they thinking selling something for 15 to 20 dollars more than even the highest of places?!No wonder I read an article that they were having troubles. I'm just NOT looking forward to having to replace these with ULTRA high def!!! Lik

Vance's picture

I think the greed of major studios is in part responsible for the slow death of physical media.True technology plays a large part; but it's the early adapter high prices that create a mental barrier in people's minds early on that tends to stick.I love the collect blu rays, but I also like pricing to be fair. My answer is to simply WAIT until the movies I want are discounted to a price I can live with. Especially if it's a double or triple dip.It does feel a little depressing to have bought a film on vhs, dvd and blu. Customer loyalty simply isn't appreciated.

Bob Harvie's picture

I go to the cinema with my wife and kids. Here in Australia that'll cost around $60-70, plus the drive there, parking, pop corn, etc. We buy a Blu-Ray disc for around $20-25 and watch it when we like, how we like. Blu-ray is damn good value. Truth be told for the most part, i.e. for 90% of our movie watching experience at home, DVD is more than worth the price of admission - now that is an interesting question?

Mark's picture

Think about music, CD's were cheaper to make that casettes, yet the CD's were more expensive. Well, it's not like the music business screwed their customers and forced them to seek out alternatives right? Nobody downloads music for free, right? The movie business would have learned from that if it had happened! There is no excuse for Bluray to cost more than DVD. They just want the money. Movies are filmed in higher definition than BR, it is converted just like DVD. I was going to buy 3 movies the other day and realised that it was going to be $75 (canadian), so I put them back. Perhaps once North American internet speeds catch up with Europe and Asia the movie companies will come to their senses. I do not mind paying a fair price, but I don't need to be ripped off either.

Jeff D's picture

Shane, I tend to agree with you, if anyone is paying 32 to 35 dollars for a BD, they're not shopping! I also tend to agree with Bill, however there still are a few BD disc's that I prefer to own in the first week. Your right again Shane, I find that a little online shopping does wonders, granted your not going to find first runs one week out for less than ten dollars, if you want to wait a month,the prices are going to be higher. Almost every manufacturer, with the exception of auto makers, tends to offer an introductory price break. As Bill and I, concur,we have extensive DVD libraries, I refuse to double DVD disc's with BD's. My current BD player upconverts to nearly 1080P, granted there is a diff what with Dolby True HD and Dts HD Master Audio, but I can live with it, we lived for years with lossy audio. I guess, all I'm really saying, do a little shopping around, if the only stores you frequent are big box, your going to lose in the long run. Nuff Said.

Vincent's picture

I think Bluray prices are for the most part fair. I gladly pay $20 for a bluray, dvd, and digital copy of a new movie anyday. Thanks you walmart!

Frank's picture

And I'd gladly pay even less for no dvd and no digital copy. Part of the extra price many pay for a couple of discs that few use.

Jonathan's picture

Pricey Blu-ray players???My first dvd player $400 marked (1997), my second $800 (1998, Pioneer Elite, still works like a charm)...My first blu-ray player $209(2008), my second $159 (two weeks ago). Blu-ray prices dropped faster than any previous format.

Bryant Trew's picture

I concur that there are plenty DVDs that I haven't watched more than once. Still, it's great to go back to movies you've had for 5-10 years after you've forgotten a lot about them. But on the whole, I think that $20 for a higher resolution disc is way too much, especially when it can be destroyed just as easily as a regular DVD. And why is there no reward for double/triple dippers? Give me a credit for the titles I want to upgrade to Blueray. For example, walk into a store with your old DVD and trade it in for the Bluray for $5-$7. That might get me buying.

Bryant Trew's picture

When I add up the cost of my Alien Laserdiscs and DVD sets (2), why would I spend $140 ($69 discount) on the Bluray anthology? I can understand a movie theatre charging us $10 as you are sitting in their theatre, using their equipment and taking up their time. At home these discs are played in my home, on my theatre and on my time. I can get multiple viewings of a movie by going back to the video store at $3 a pop. So when you really think about it, renting the disc removes the risk of owning a disc that may get wrecked (investment cost is zero). The ownership charge, in real terms, therefore is purely the ability to watch the movie exactly when you want to. ...Oops, that sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it? I have two Apple TVs, and for the vast majority of movies, the picture quality is more than I need. Why then are you charging me such a high premium, when I am bearing the risk of the investment, the bulk of the cost of using the disc, and saving the manufacturer the cost of e-distribution?

Darcy's picture

Sure, there are some deals to be had on BD if one looks for them, but for the most part, if you visit Target, FYE or Best Buy, many if not most BD's are still over $20. General public sees this and says wow, prices are way too high. That is cannot expect rapid adoption of the technology at those price levels.

Bobby's picture

I agree that BD's are still relatively expensive, but you are paying for a new technology and a wealth of additional features. Furthermore, there's something to be said about the burn some consumers experienced when HD DVD died and BR won out. Consumers are now "double-dipping" to get their favorite movies on BD's (which they already owned on a previous format) and spending money on new TVs to get the best possible picture/sound. All of this is costly in light of the times. That's why VOD from your cable provider, YouTube and Hulu continues to succeed because they're available for relatively cheap (or free) instantly. Consumers who had the disposible income to collect movies, did so and with the struggles of the economy, only the true collector has been left standing.

Shane's picture

Bryant- yours is a most interesting comment, and one that gets to the heart of what kind of movie freak and enthusiast I and people like me are. I too owned the Alien movies on Laserdisc and then DVD, and now Blu-ray. To me, for movies I love, when a major high-def restoration comes around I can't wait to plunk my money down. It's like my birthday came early. And FYI, it costs the studios hundreds of thousands of dollars per movie to restore and re-release titles on Blu-ray. If people don't care anymore and watch cheap streams, I'm concerned that we might not see cinema's treasures in the best possible way any longer.

Bryant Trew's picture

Shane,I've invested about $40k in my system alone, and I've spent thousands on discs over the years. I simply love movies, and the reality for me is that the resolution and sound quality of the media has a very small weighting in my overall enjoyment of a film's content. Most of the movies I own are still extremely enjoyable even when watched on my bedroom LCD. Bluray doesn't enhance the acting, directing or storyline, but the discs are priced and marketed as if it is an otherworldly experience from DVD - it's not IMHO.Especially with how much better DVD looks on my Oppo Bluray, Bluray discs have not become a necessity. I have no real reason to double or triple dip, because the quality is so high on my 60" Kuro/Meridian/PSB/Parasound system. The difference between my existing Aliens DVD Remasters and the Bluray collection simply will not be great enough for me to justify that kind of payout. And if you can't convince someone like me to spend $20 on Bluray, you can f

Derek's picture

2 bucks per BD

Allan wilmath's picture

Yes, 30 dollars for a movie is too much. If studios wanted to actually sell movies to working people, they would price them 20 bucks for a new release, and 15 after a year or two. The bluray players with streaming are kind of a nail in the coffin of disk based media.Dinosaurs are know for being really large with a small brain. The record industry killed cd by pricing themselves out of business, the Movie industry thinks that was so much fun, they are following the same script. Ten bucks for a cd, twenty for a movie, they woulda' sold a ton of cd's, and they could sell a ton of movies: but, they won't.