In an interview with The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth, The Criterion Collection's CEO Jonathan Turell says the company has not suffered as bad of a downturn in sales of classic films as other DVD distributors. “If we’re down, we’re down a very small amount," Turell told the website. "If we took the standard numbers [of dropped sales that other studios are experiencing] we’d be down more, but we’re not."
Turell also reveals why Criterion is so choosy about which titles they issue on Blu-ray, instead of offering all their releases on the format (like their terrific new disc of Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco, which I wish was available on Blu-ray).
"The cost of authoring [a Blu-ray disc] is very expensive compared to [Standard Definition], and the cost of manufacturing is multiples [compared to SD]. So if I sell a disc in SD and I sell it in BluRay I can do a much better job of paying overhead if I sell it in SD," said Turell.
At least Criterion doesn't charge extra for their Blu-rays, unlike every other studio, which mark up the disc's prices by $5-$10. Also, the picture and sound on Criterion DVDs are so expertly transferred that they often look very close to high-def, like their eye-popping release of Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, which I just watched again last week.
I've been a Criterion collector since their laserdisc days. I have fond memories of buying their fat Blade Runner laserdisc box in 1987 (which cost $100!) and spending a couple of days going through it. I'm hoping to set aside four hours this coming weekend to watch their new DVD of Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which I've never seen.