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MOD (Manufactured on Demand) Moves into Blu-Rays

MOD (Manufactured on Demand) Moves into Blu-Rays

Hollywood is always looking for new ways and new places to sell its movies.  In 1982, Paramount’s Barry Diller, one of the smartest men ever to run a Hollywood studio, told me that the decisions he and the other studio heads were then making about new technologies – basic cable, pay-cable, satellite television. Pay-Per-View, videocassettes and videodiscs – “will dictate the makeup of this industry 20 years from now.”

Most of those technologies had a good ride, but, 30 years later, a digital world has swept many of them away.  DVDs and then Blu-rays replaced videocassettes and videodiscs, and DVD sales have plummeted as people download and stream digital content online. The same people are pulling the plug on their expensive cable and satellite contracts, angry that they have to swallow – and pay for – dozens of channels they don’t want in order to get the channels they do watch.

And several studios, led by Warner Bros., have found a consumer-friendly way to earn some extra money from the thousands of old films, television programs and mini-series in their archives.  MOD (Manufactured on Demand) lets customers order a single DVD or 20 different DVDs that are burned especially for them, many them remastered.

Warners tiptoed into MOD in March, 2009. Three years later the studio has 1500 films and television programs available, many of them never released on DVD or VHS because too few people would have bought them to make it financially worthwhile.

Now Warners has taken the next MOD step.  For this holiday season, Warner Bros. offered its first two MOD films on Blu-ray – “Deathtrap” (1982) a cat-and-mouse mystery starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve, and the 1962 musical, “Gypsy” with Rosalind Russell as Mama Rose and Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee.

Starting next February, Warners intends to make one or two more of the old films in its library available on Blu-ray MOD each month.  First up in 2013 are the Coen brothers’ satire of big business, “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994) starring Paul Newman and Tim Robbins, and Peter Weir’s “Fearless (1993) with Jeff Bridges as the survivor of a plane crash.  Both movies were box office failures with “Hudsucker” grossing $2.8 million  and “Fearless” grossing $6.9 million  but should sell on demand to followers of the directors or stars.

In the spring of 2011, Sony became a WB partner, with 150 Sony “Screen Classics by Request” titles, many of them westerns, available through the Warner Archive Collection, while Universal moved into MOD in 2010 with Amazon.

Among the films that the Warner website is currently featuring from its scores of pre-1986 MGM films are the steamy pre-Code 1932 movie “Red Dust” pairing Jean Harlow and Clark Gable and “The Canterville Ghost” (1944) starring Charles Laughton and Margaret O’Brien.  The studio’s own stars — Bette Davis as a schoolteacher in “The Corn is Green” (1945) and Humphrey Bogart as a carnival owner in “The Wagons Roll at Night” (1941) — are available for $18.95 each.

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Wondering why Raintree could not make the blu ray collection. In 1988-89 a new 70mm print was struck for special events. The Laser Disc was the best venue available at the time, but several major movies were being struck from new Todd Ao prints in full roadshow presentation. Oklahoma, South Pacific were these movies were filmed twice 1 for 70 MM Todd Ao where the 70 prints carried filmed in Todd Ao in credits. Raintree was the same way the complete roadshow presentation in full mag tracks. I have one of those Raintree roadshow collector prints. If the master was cut for high res video where is it? I collector print is far superior to anything I have seen aired on TCM. I also have the roadshow prints of Diary of Ann Frank and Where eagles Dare, which is very rare. The Overture and ent’rance to Ann Frank were one of Alfred Newman’s best scores and to have preserved the full Mag TRACKS. Its a miracle that the Cinerama 3 strip movies are being preserved. Cinerama could be done today using prints filmed in Super Panavision 70mm , then split the prints for digital XD ( example ) then using 3 digital projectors on a 146 degree curved screen with NO DISTORTION. IMAX or the XD,s or ETX screens today our true showman ship, but will never have the grandeur of the deep curved screens that can be easily and economically accomplished. The floor to ceiling concept is a laugh considering that we look at a huge white border top and bottom because 95% of all features played in these theaters are in Cinemascope. Sone circuits cut side to bolster the heighth. The XD screens here have at least a 16 18 foot curve but in 1:85 to 1 you loose the immersion of Cinerama ir Todd AO. Curved screens don’t cost anymore that flat. I have built theaters for 35 years and I thank God I never had
shoebox theater with 30 foot screens. In Dallas TX Cinemarks home, they several GIANT SCREEN theaters 80 to 95 feet plus curve on the 1:85 to 1 XD. But in one auditorium of a complex that house a giant XD house yet the 2nd Giant house received a new Giant Todd AO screen with 130 degree curve and full masked screen. Any widescreen presentation in this theater takes you back to real showmAN SHIP. Regal has a 10 plex with 2 auditoriums with giant 85 foot screens on a curve but not as deep. Theatre was built before the Digital clean curves could be utilized. The screens fully masked and top masking on all these screens are permanent the masking works on the sides. These pictures are far superior to the glowing white or silver top and bottom. The industry is changing again like in the 50’s were TV was the issue. Now I agree with Tarentino that showmanship and these chiat screens our the salvation. Watch his new Super Panavision 70MM roadshow and FULL cinerama with 3 seamless digital projection and 7 union men to show it. Use wahr we have to generate cash profits for theaters who spend the big formats and charge for it, the film companies don’t need a dime for the theaters format. God Knows they won’t pay for it. Enough of my insight of the future of the movie industry as it headed, we must adapt. But roadshow video masters were cut for raintree and was to be preserved as the film bio with this roadshow copy. In 1989 Raintree roadshow collector print was $90 today $800 for strikes one at a time from the 70MM master. The studios can do it cheaper. It cost millions to save My Fair Lady for 70MM video special release. God knows what has happened to all the Todd Ao prints of Cleopatra. The scope and panorama of 10’s of 1000’s of extras only Todd AO which was similar to ultra Panavision 70MM for the curved screens. I watched a cinerama transfer, now preserved until theaters can reach 12K projection. Its up to the dreamers today to save our dream creations of the past and improve them.


WARNERS: WHERE OH WHERE IS THE DVD/BLU-RAY OF RAINTREE COUNTY?? For some reason this title has been completely ignored by Warners – could someone PLEASE reply??


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