Criterion Collection

Trends can’t always be trusted. Take the subject of my latest article for The Spectator – DVDs. All of the trend-lines show that DVDs are on the way out, to be replaced by downloads and streaming. And yet, thanks to the efforts of wonderful distributors such as Arrow, Eureka and Second Run, they’re on the way in-in-in to my over-stuffed folders of discs. As I write in the article:

Strangely, the decline of physical media is helping to sustain these distributors. There was a time — sometimes referred to as ‘the Golden Age of DVD’ by weirdos like me, who have collected thousands of discs — when the big studios brought their archives to home-video wholesale. Universal Pictures released dozens of old science-fiction movies, right down to Monsters on the Campus (1958) and The Leech Woman (1960). Warner Bros. printed box set after box set of films noirs. Fox went all out on Charlie Chan. But then the economics changed. The studios are now concentrating on digital, and leaving their archives to the specialist DVD publishers.

A case in point is Arrow Video’s forthcoming edition of The Thing (1982). Several years ago, Universal wouldn’t have dared to loosen its grip on one of John Carpenter’s most popular films. Now it is allowing a boutique British label to release a new restoration on Blu-ray, and collectors are shivering with anticipation. Arrow is known for the care that it puts into its releases. Its edition of The Thing is overflowing with behind-the-scenes material and has sublimely illustrated packaging. There’s a sense of luxury about it, as though the Golden Age has become the Platinum Age.

All proceeds from the article will go towards funding my habit.

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