Back in the DVD days, export business of American product was a big business in Europe. People looking to avoid high prices, PAL speedup, ugly ratings logos, and long theatrical windows bought US product by the score back in the Old World. With Blu-ray, catalog sales in the US are good, but not great, but according to some new reports they’re flying off the shelves in the UK and Europe. So why are they so different?
Well for starters, they’re typically 30-50% cheaper than they are in the US, in a country with 1/5th the population where the cost of living is around 50% MORE.
“Well, there must be something wrong/inferior about them, right?” Not so far, in fact it’s typically identical product between the two countries, with the exception of some cosmetic packaging differences
The Lethal Weapon Collection, a title that just finally came out in the US last week after a year of availability overseas, is currently $60 on Amazon.com, while the UK price, shipped to my door, comes in at just over $30 (and has been as cheap as $25)(UPDATE: Sales have it at $22 shipped currently, just over 1/3 the US price). The Alien Anthology from Fox was over $30 cheaper on release day, again shipped to my door from 3000 miles away. Planet of the Apes ($25.47 in normal keepcase, $70.49 in the book that doesn’t fit on the shelf with the horrible rubber hubs), Superman ($39.11UK/$79.99US), again and again, the UK prices are so low that you can often get two for the US prices of one.
Now, I respect the rights of businesses to set their own prices, and understand that things need to be adjusted depending on market, but if Blu-ray is booming in the UK with 30% lower prices to great success, it seems to me that perhaps the doom of catalog is a self-fulfilling prophecy in the United States, and getting the prices on these major catalog gems down to the same prices the British are paying is not only fairer, but if Blu catalog success is stagnating here, why not try what seems to be working in the worldwide bad economy, and that is more reasonable, but still likely profitable pricing that encourage people to upgrade and transition to the platform, and continue to reap good revenues on combo packs of new releases, where sales are healthy and the real money seems to be anyway?