Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Wrap up & editorial

This is the new idea that I have to try to do something different with this blog, an original essay each Friday. The topic will be either related to the week's news, or it might be completely random. I don't know, or really have any idea at all. I just wanted to try to bring more content to the blog that isn't just news items.

So this week I want to share a few thoughts on the pricing of Christian movies. These days, most new release DVD movies will debut at about $20, with some big-box stores having specials to lower the cost as loss leaders. After a few months the price drops to $15, and it usually stays there for a while. If the film has been out for a long time and sales are slipping then it will often drop to $10 or so. I often have the bitter feeling of lost money when I walk into Best Buy or Circuit City and see a movie I paid $20+ for on release in their $10 bin. But I suppose I got my value by having it then, being able to watch it when I chose.

Some film studios eschew this format in order to retain a perception of value in their titles. Disney's animation titles are the best example, and if you ever see them for less than full retail count yourself lucky. The maintenance of higher prices is done for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps the marquee Disney films from ever being thought of as cheap, the idea being that if something is expensive than it must have some sort of intrinsic value. This is true for their fabled "vault" films, as well as the Pixar titles that are perpetually available. The other reason is the reason why they get away with it; there is always a market for Disney films. As long as people have children, there will be new audiences for Disney films. A film like The Matrix will eventually reach a point where most of the people who might want to buy will own it. A Disney film has new customers being made in maternity wards every moment of every day.

Christian films have a similar pricing scheme, but different reasons. You will very rarely find a Christian film at below full retail price of $15-$20, unless it is a really old catalog title being re-released on DVD from VHS. Some of the film's we've reviewed, like the excellent Power Play, are like that, most likely because they are over 10 years old and have already re-most of their costs in home video sales. Newer films, especially any made after the advent of DVD, are still higher in couped cost. Even some older films, like the End Times set that we mentioned earlier, are released at high prices. Why? In this case I think(bear in mind I have no way of knowing), that the smaller market dictates higher prices. That End Times set won't be showing up on the shelves of CostCo or Wal-Mart, and most likely only a handful will ever be made when compared to a Hollywood release. The smaller number drives up the per unit cost of producing the DVDs, which drives up the cost. Also, these are older films that will generally only appeal to a certain type of audience that is likely pre-disposed to purchasing them, not unlike the Disney films.

The whole problem with this is introducing new audiences to the films, no matter if the audiences are Christian or non-Christian. Especially an older set such as this End Times set, which features much lower production values than many new Christian films. I can't imagine anyone seeking out this set other than someone looking for a nostalgia fix of 80s Christian films that they sat through in youth group meetings. On the other hand, Christians like a good bargain as much as anyone, and a set of adventuresome films from a bygone era might attract impulse buyers if it was listed at a lower price. Sales of books like Left Behind indicate that there is a huge market for Christian post-apocalyptic fiction, and these films would appeal to someone who has seen Tribulation Force 3 times and can't wait for the next sequel. But at $62? or even a single film for $15? Never going to happen. I'm sure that these aren't that cheap to produce, but I have a hard time believing that the producers can't get a deal where a $8 DVD wouldn't break even. And for $8, I'll try almost anything that even remotely appeals to me.

I'm sure I'm not alone.

Weekly Wrap Up:

Monday, 9 June: We talked about The Master Plan, a pseudo-Christian film that could have some interesting perspectives on faith.

Tuseday, 10 June: Some info on the really good looking Wait Your Turn.

Wednesday, 11 June: My vote for worst DVD deal of the year, aside from a box set of M. Night Shamylian movies, the $62 End Times DVD set.

Thursday, 12 June: A news item on Matchmaker Mary, a new film that is being distributed by Pure Flix, the makers(or at least distributers) of The Wager.


Awakenpictures said...

Welcome back,

This is a good discussion about how the market prices itself in Christian and studio film releases. As for Christian films, I remember listening to a great CD by Rich Christiano about distribution and financing of Christian films that a lot of these old Christian films actually are big sellers. But they are big sellers in a different way than studio films are. They make money over time... not all at once. He said "they are like dividends" they continue to make money as time goes on.

Tiredofsteam said...

$69 for a bunch of lame dvds is a down right STEAL! In for 500000...