In Case of Dual Formats: Why Even DVD-Only Customers Should Be Browsing Our Blu-Rays

“I want to see that movie, but it looks like they only have it on blu-ray.”

Is this you? Not so fast, gang!

If you don’t own a blu-ray player, maybe you (understandably) pass by those smaller blue cases throughout Beyond Video. But if so, you’re missing out on close to 1000 DVDs in our video library, especially among our New Releases.

Why? The answer is: dual-format cases.

You probably know that blu-ray players do play DVDs, but DVD players don’t play blu-rays; blu-ray is the newer and higher-definition format (although it’s been around for roughly 15 years now).

Beyond Video strives to own most popular and essential titles on both formats. When we do, in most cases that results in one rental case for the DVD, and another rental case for the blu-ray, as you see above for Memories of Murder and Daughters of the Dust, and below for Horror Noire and The Wild Goose Lake. We only put out one case per format per title; in other words, whether we have 100 copies of Memories of Murder on DVD in stock or just one available, you’ll see one DVD display case out on the floor.

Pretty simple, right? To make things even easier, we stickered all cases that represent blu-ray rentals with the “blu-ray edition” stickers you see in those pics.

As regulars have probably noticed, you don’t actually often see a blu-ray and DVD of the same title faced out side-by-side at Beyond Video like we arranged them in the pictures above.

Instead, we frequently array the smaller blu-ray case in front of the larger DVD case of the same title, especially on our New Release wall, so that we can face out more films. Again, one case for each format, and you can see the DVD’s case peeking out from behind the presumptuous little blu-rays, as below. Still pretty straightforward, right?

But then along come the dual-format releases.

Dual format” just means that the distributor sells the given movie on both the DVD and blu-ray formats, bundled together in one case. That case is almost always blu-ray sized.

Economically, that’s great for a video library like ours: for one purchase price, we get two rental copies of those films (one on DVD and on blu)! Check out a dual-format release of one of our best-renting titles, Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow.

In terms of browsing, though, these dual-format releases pose a challenge: we’ve got just one display case that looks like it’s for just the blu-ray, and need a way to tell y’all we also have the DVD.

So here’s how we handle dual-format releases. Instead of the “blu-ray edition” stickers we put on most blu-ray cases, dual-format cases have a sticker that reads “Available on both DVD and Blu-ray. Which would you like?” as you see atop the display case for First Cow, below.

A dual-format display case like the above lets our members know that we own the film on both formats, but just have the one case. The case will be out on the floor for rent if *any* copies of First Cow are available on DVD *or* blu-ray. So when you want to rent First Cow, you bring this case forward and let us know your format preference; we’ll check behind the counter to confirm we have it in stock for you. In the case of First Cow, don’t worry: we have 3 DVDs and 3 blu-rays, and it’s been out for about a year, so our supply is plentiful!

This isn’t just true on the New Release wall. A lot of boutique cinephile labels have issued dual-format releases: Criterion used to (as with our set of Persona below), as have cult-film archivists Vinegar Syndrome (Sweet Sweetback’s…), art-house and genre-film adventurists Arrow (La Grande Bouffe), and silent and film-noir specialists Flicker Alley (The Man Who Cheated Himself), to name just a few.

So you’ll find blu-ray sized dual-format titles all over the Beyond Video library, potentially opening up many hundreds of DVD titles you didn’t know were available.

And dual-format display cases are always blu-ray sized, right? WELP…

Every now and then someone will put out a dual-format set in a DVD-sized (or irregularly sized) case, just to keep us on our toes. This was the case with the very fun Go-Gos documentary, above (so nice we stickered it twice!). But this is only true of a few titles in the store, and in any case the solution is the same: slap a sticker on it.

We do our best, then, to not only make titles available on multiple formats, but keep you informed of your format options for each title. Usually if we only acquire one copy of a film, we do so on DVD, since both DVD and blu-ray players open up that content. But there are some recent releases (and lots of back-catalog reissues) these days that are only issued on blu-ray in the U.S.. We don’t have a pre-made sticker for that, so we have to settle for Eric’s borderline-illegible scrawl (and this is me trying my hardest — sorry gang! –Eric) as below for Monos and In Fabric to get the information across, so you’re not looking time and time again for a DVD that doesn’t, so far as we know, exist.

Why do distributors issue dual-format releases? Reasons vary. Some labels, we suspect, are doing so in the spirit of an archive maximizing access to their holdings; others may have been using dual-format releases to save money (less plastic and lower shipping costs if you consolidate the formats), and some may have used dual-format releases as a way to get their customers hooked on blus so they could eventually phase DVDs out.

Whatever their reason, we have a lot of ’em — and we wanted to make sure you knew you could access ’em!


your dual-format friends from Beyond

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