Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced plans to begin releasing “Manufactured on Demand” Blu-ray discs as part of its new “Choice Collection.” The first wave is due to become available on September 6, with more promised through 2017.
Manufactured on Demand movie discs first began appearing in 2009 when Warner Bros. established its DVD-based “Warner Archive Collection.” These were oddball and cult classic films that didn’t have enough mass-market appeal to ensure sales of discs pressed and distributed in large batches. The Collection proved to be popular, and the company has released well north of 1,000 titles. Warner’s success led others to follow, and we’ve since seen MOD releases from Sony, 20th Century Fox, Disney, and Universal.
Manufactured on Demand discs typically ship with artwork and familiar packaging, and can be distributed direct-to-retail or directly to consumers. The biggest benefit being that retailers do not need to carry onsite stock or place minimum order sizes, while giving collectors and enthusiasts access to titles that otherwise would never see the light of day (or have foreign distribution only).
There are some downsides. First and foremost, some MOD titles aren’t released on stamped discs, but rather a DVD-R or BD-R disc. This calls into question disc reliability and longevity, as recordable discs are manufactured differently and have proven to be less reliable over time. Also, not every Blu-ray player is capable of playing recordable discs. Most modern players with current firmware installed should have no issue with playback. But older players without current support and some non-dedicated players (such as Microsoft’s Xbox One) may not support playback.
Video transfer quality also might be less than ideal if the source material isn’t remastered (note, there’s no indication that Sony isn’t taking steps to deliver quality images). Enthusiasts will also likely find MOD discs to lack trailers, subtitles, on-disc commentary, and other popular extras. There are exceptions, of course.
Sony’s initial Choice Collection releases include The Karate Kid Part III (1989), The Next Karate Kid (1994), Body Double (1984), Marie Antoinette (2006), and The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005). Sony says the discs will contain full-HD images and lossless audio. Initial pricing of The Karate Kid Part III and The Next Karate Kid is $26.99 per film.
Look for Sony’s Choice Collection on Amazon and other online retailers.
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment