Dearth of classic movies on Blu-Ray

I was checking out the Blu-Ray section at my local Borders. There were about 200 titles, but outside of “The Searchers” (1956) there were no movies from before the 1970’s. In the regular DVD section, there were tons of older movies in all genres. It amazes me that you can get that movie where the Rock raises that little girl on Blu-Ray but not “Gone With The Wind” or “The Sound of Music”. Are there technical reasons more older movies aren’t out yet? Licensing issues? Lack of demand? Poor marketing?

Popular Mechanics (hardly a reliable source, but work with me), says that part of it is because film wear may be part of the problem. The abuse endured by the masters for “Gone With the Wind” may not be so apparent on VHS or DVD, but becomes more of a problem with the transition to HD, meaning more processing is required to make the older films look good.

Also, Blu-Ray is still (relatively) new. It takes time (and money) to convert old libraries to new formats. Even more to market them.

I’ll WAG that there are even more reasons why we haven’t seen older movies converted yet, if anybody else knows more about it, please share.

ETA: DVD-Video has been around and marketed since 1997. Blu-ray titles didn’t appear until 2006.

It dates to only 1992, but Ebert put Baraka on his Great Movies list and said this one alone was sufficient reason to get a Blu-Ray player. Quote: “Baraka by itself is sufficient reason to acquire a Blu-Ray player … The restored 2008 Blu-Ray is the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined.”

He’s also full of praise for the Blu-Ray version of The Godfather, Part II.

With enough praise like this, eventually it should hopefully pick up.

That’s another point I’d like to add:

Right now, there are still lots and lots and lots of people without Blu-Ray players. The publishers most likely don’t see the market large enough to support the classics, yet. Every schmuck with a PS3 buys a copy of The Dark Knight. Not too many of em are rushing out to watch Butterfly McQueen announce her ignorance regarding childbirth.

DVD players and titles were first mass marketed in 1997, but DVD rentals did not surpass VHS rentals until 2003. [cite] Considering Blu-Ray titles were first released in 2006, I’m not surprised the list of Blu-Ray titles is short.


In 1999, I’m not even sure I even knew anybody with a DVD player. Them’s was fancy.

Now that my parents have a Blu-ray player, I regularly surf to keep abreast of what’s being released. If you do a search of movies with a date range, say 1900-1975, you can see what’s out there, or impending. I already got my parents The Godfather trilogy, Casablanca, and the Third Man.

They pulled the same shit when DVDs came out. The latest box office bomb would be out on DVD, while classics (even ones in public domain) were relegated to VHS, if they were available at all.

Follywood is incredibly stupid in a lot of matters, and this is one of them. While your early adopters and gamers will eagerly rush out and get either a Blu-Ray player or PS3, your more typical consumer isn’t just going to buy the latest gizmo simply to have one. They’re going to wait some period of time before they buy an HDTV (which you have to have before a Blu-Ray player will do you any good), and they’re going to hold off on that Blu-Ray player until there’s either a large catalog of movies that they want available, or something that they just “gotta have” comes out on Blu-Ray. Given that many of these folks have actual money, and would be inclined to buy lots of older movies were they available, you’d think that Follywood would want to market to them, but you’d be wrong.

Mind you, in the case of a number of classic movies, you could keep the same packaging design (which is where the real costs for a rerelease can come in) for ages, so it wouldn’t be easily noticeable that the copy you’re holding in your hand had been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years.

This is the 70th anniversary of the original release of Gone With the Wind, so if Follywood has any sense, they’ll put a special edition out on Blu-Ray this year.

I got my DVD player in 1999 and in 2000 (I think) I got the Criterion Collection release of Seven Samurai on DVD. One of my roommates ribbed me a little for using the latest in digital video technology known for its clarity and excellent sound to watch a movie that was nearly 50 years old, not in stereo, with a picture that certainly wasn’t as crisp and clear as my Austin Powers DVD.

I admit that the first movies I got for my DVD were big action movies like Aliens, Highlander (terrible DVD transfer), and of course Austin Powers. Ok, that last one wasn’t a big action movie. I wasn’t really interested in buying a whole lot of classic films nor, did it seem to me anyway, that others were interested.

I have a Blu-Ray player that we got with a television purchased for Christmas. I still don’t have any BR disc. I’m one of those schmucks that’s more likely to purchase The Dark Knight before a classic movie. :smiley:

Relevant thread:
Baraka on Blu-ray: Looks to be mind-blowing

Thanks! Missed that thread.

Blu-Ray is an incredible movie format on a 1080p monitor. But frankly most Blu-Ray players are used by kids of all ages in PS3 machines to play games. The format may never catch on, despite having vanquished HD-DVD

Give it time. Criterionhas released the following titles on bluray:
The 400 Blows
The Third Man
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Last Emperor
Bottle Rocket
Chungking Express
El Norte
The Last Metro*

Just a random sampling from my vidstore’s bluray section includes:

The Longest Day
Bonnie and Clyde
Rio Bravo
The Searchers

Most of the James Bond titles
Life of Brian
Disney’s *Sleeping Beauty
The Godfather Trilogy
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Enter the Dragon