I hate you, Criterion Collection. Yeah, you heard me, hate you.
There. I said it and I meant it. Oh sure, Criterion is the Cadillac of the DVD industry. A film released on Criterion is always gorgeous or is at least restored to its natural luster. Audio commentary is invariably provided along with tons of special features. Criterion specializes in "important classic and contemporary films." Sounds like the devoted cinephiles dream. What's not to like?
I'll tell you what. $$$$$. That's what.
The Seven Samurai (1954) $49.95, The Lady Vanishes (1938) $31.96, Amarcord (1974) $39.95, M (1931) $39.95, a bag of popcorn $25. Okay I was kidding about the popcorn, but my point remains.
Criterion's prices are fine if you happen to own a diamond mine, but to us Ordinary Joes and Josephines, Criterion has effectively priced a lot of films out of our range. Mine anyway.
I own three Criterion films. One was given as a gift, another I purchased with a gift certificate and the third I took on a second mortgage to buy.
One of the worst things about Criterion is they have a virtual monopoly on the better foreign films. Certainly if you want anything by Bergman, Renoir or Malle, as just a few examples, you're going to be paying through the nose. (Snot a bad idea.) So they're forever putting me in the awkward position of trying to decide whether to buy a beloved film or continue enjoying three meals a day. See why I hate them? I like to eat!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you're saying: you get what you pay for. But when a 90 minute movie costs over $30 it better be able to tuck me and get a glass of water. There are limits for even those of us who spend ridiculous amounts of time and money on movies. That's just it. We already go to the theater (which now costs as much as a baseball game, which now costs as much a really nice restaurant meal which now costs as much as...oh hell, you get the picture) and buy DVDs aplenty. Who can afford to put further strains on the family budget by purchasing a $40 DVD -- with just one movie in it.
Giving credit where it is due I will say that Criterion films are great to rent as in such circumstances they are forced to stand as equals to $15 and $20 films. None of your elitist classism then, Criterion. Also they've taken to releasing some of their films under the "Essential Art House" label. I was thus able to buy Grand Illusion (1937) for under a million dollars and may consider ponying up for The 39 Steps (1935). This collection still offers the same picture quality but with nary a special feature. I guess us poor folk don't merit the extras. So thanks anyway for that, some of your films are affordable.
On their website Criterion offers the following gobbledygook answer to the question of why their DVDs cost more:Our prices reflect all the resources we put into making each release a special release. Each release has a producer who finds the best supplemental features to help further the appreciation of the film, often producing original content. The technical staff ensures that we are working with the best original source materials and digital masters by performing rigorous visual and audio restoration processes.
Please allow me to translate: we do a nice job with our films and there are enough rich b*tsrards and suckers out there that we figure that justifies our outlandish prices.