The Future of DVD & Blu-Ray Packaging: Part-1

19 Sep

5th article in our 7- week series on Film Studios Marketing Tactics

Much like its uncle and aunt, the Movie Marquee and Poster, the Optical disc package or DVD is a modern day promotional vehicle for the contemporary feature film.  Yet with the use of video on demand, streaming media, and other forms of media designed for home reception on the horizon and future, we have to wonder whether the speed of technological change will significantly curtail the lifespan of this form of promotional packaging?  Placing one more nail in the Red Box or neighborhood video store coffin, if the media is delivered over the internet (to your home) you have much less need of packaging for a nonexistent disk.  So while this marketing media continues to retain its urgency, let’s explore its reliable communicative features and influential marketing strengths.

When talking about Optical Disc packaging it differs from the movie marquee and poster, in that Optical Disc packaging is still primarily post mortem promotions.  The Marquee and Poster fulfill their greatest promotional service BEFORE a movie is distributed.  Unless a video was developed for the straight to video market, Optical Disc packaging was designed to attract audience members after the theatrical run.  We will talk more about this afterward.  Where are you most likeky to see the CD, DVD, or (BD) Blu-ray optical disk displayed: in your local library, in the neighborhood video store, in the resale racks of pawn shops, at community thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets and in private homes [1].

 DVD display shelves

HISTORY: Attempting to not go too far-a-field, we should discuss how the need for these covers came to be necessary in the firstplace. So lets’s make a detour into another entertainment world disk delivering media; the popular music world.  When record albums were like photo albums, record disks were bound in imageless sheets that made no decorative attempt at attract customers. Around 1939 to 1940 Columbia records had their graphics department, Alex Steinweiss create cover art for the record sleeves to persuade customers to stop and review the record.

 Steinweiss album from the 1940’s

Because cover art persuaded buying far more aggressively than records with out it the album cover was born.  Below please listen to greater elaboration on the topic.

OPTICAL DISK MEDIA IN THE LATE 2OTH CENTURY: The genesis of the optical compact disk is a complicated one that owes it’s popularity to technological innovation as well as the entertainment industry’s typically persuasive and seductive materials.   Within their PC update column this is how Peter Stanski of describes the move from VHS tapes to the new optical disc media.

“In 1980 Sony and Philips set the standard for the digital audio (DA) compact disc format. In 1982, the first Sony CD player called the CD-101 was released with Billy Joel’s 52nd Street being the first musical production. With the success of CDs the first portable car players became available in 1984. Then, in 1985, the automatic CD changer with a carousel appeared on the market. In the 1990s, the industry began to adopt various storage standards to unify the plethora of hybrid CD formats perfected by third-party developers. These commonly agreed-upon formats were published in a set of coloured-cover books, becoming commonly known by their de facto names as the coloured-book standards. Today many formats are available for various applications such as computer data storage (CD-ROM), imaging (PhotoCD), interactive multimedia (CDi), multi-session data and audio (mixed mode 1 & 2), with the most common of these being the digital audio (DA) format [3].”

Distinguishing between the different optical drives does an exceptional job of clarifying how the different drives are useful.

“Optical drives retrieve and/or store data on optical discs like CDs, DVDs, and BDs (Blu-ray discs) which hold much more information than classic portable media options like the floppy disk [3]”

The site also clarifies the different file types and formats:

“Most optical drives can play and/or record onto a large number of different disc formats.

Popular optical drive formats include CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-R DL, DVD+R DL, BD-R, and BD-RE [4].”

That would complete a technological summation of how the Optical disk drive became the dominant vehicle of distributing feature film entertainment.

Yet there’s another aspect of the optical disk package that is equally important: fan and consumer reception. Despite the changes in technology, optical disk packaging and the way it functions is hard to reject. David Chen of the blog “More than fine” reached a high level of Internet fame with his 2007 article “Why Do Great Movies Get Awful DVD Cover Art [5]?”

Please review the many displays that make an argument to prove poster art is better than the art of DVD covers.  Also please distinguish where and why you agree or disagree with his assessments.

  Poster                               DVD Cover

1. Blood Diamond

 Poster                                 DVD Cover

2. Casino Royale


 Poster                                 DVD Cover

3. Children of Men


 Poster                                   DVD Cover

4. Infernal Affairs

  Poster                                     DVD Cover

5. The Last King of Scotland


Poster                                    DVD Cover

6. The Departed


 Poster                                   DVD Cover

7. The Fountain


Poster                                DVD Cover

7. The Prestige

Poster                                DVD Cover

8. The Rocketeer

Also see:  What’s the Future for Film Adaptations in Hollywood?

Please join us for a discussion Thursday 9/20/2012@7pmE/12UTC


Essential references:

[1] Shelving Image from:





50 Responses to “The Future of DVD & Blu-Ray Packaging: Part-1”

  1. Open Book September 20, 2012 at 10:09 AM #

    Great article CR. I agree with David Chen the film posters are better than the DVD covers. Why? The posters are more conceptual and interactive. It’s creating an ambiance and mood thats attractive. Also, they are often subtle about the actors accomplishments and into selling the story and character. For example with the DVD’s covers u provided in your article they are selling the actors. For the film poster its relying on getting audiences interested in the character or narrative. I love the Blood Diamond and Casino Royale film posters both are very effective and engaging. BD rely heavily on the title with one image to sell the film. No need for Leo Dicaprios face because his name is well known. Casino Royale is all about selling character and ambiance. Anyway, poster art is way more sophisticated then DVD covers IMO.

    • littlebells September 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM #

      I completely agree with this, OB. When I was comparing the two, selling the “actors” and not the film was very, very apparent.

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 1:07 PM #

      Thanks for reminding me. I really wanted to thank David Chen for his article it was invaluable in helping me to make many of my choices. I can certainly see why it was as popular as it was on Also reading his article will help you distinguish his opinions from my own. In fact this is how you can get there to see the article yourself.


      • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 1:08 PM #

        Thanks so much for the compliment.

        I wanted to make sure you understood, regarding the poster and DVD cover selections, I made very few. In fact because David Chen did such an excellent job finding and displaying the material you see I purely collected the content he chose.
        I’m sure you realize this but one of Chen’s criticism’s was the way actor’s influence the emphasis on themselves in film media. I’m sure you have heard this criticism before it’s the “I can’t stand the way, spoiled and selfish actors………….”. A comment that Chen made similar to this was:

        “Unfortunately, many studios seem to slap whatever heads and/or names they can find onto the cover in the hopes that passersby at Walmart will get excited at seeing some actress’ face and immediately want to buy their latest film (this DVD malady is sometimes referred to as “floating head syndrome”).

        This is especially infurating when the movie poster art was totally fine to begin with.”
        I don’t think this is fair attitude because it was proven eons ago that actor identification drives movie sales. Whether “spoiled” or “selfish” {my words} these film collaborators may be, they deserve their respect for making a film more successful. Here unfortunately I do not agree with Chen.

        As an aside (that does little prove my point) sometimes movie posters are as obsessed with actors as the presented DVD covers. Most Tom Cruise and Clint Eastwood movies focus on the actors face to the exception of story and character also.

        Tom Cruise:

        Clint Eastwood:…0.0…1c.1.pFOOCNRJ9oE

  2. Open Book September 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM #


    Do u think film posters will evolve into wallpapers (for computer screens) to be used as a branding tool regardless if theaters no longer use them to sell a movie?

    • parisienne September 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM #


      I think they will go toward some type of PC/Tablet marketing. They are doing that now. For example, Sweet Bird of Youth is playing in Chicago. I first heard the radio ad but now I’m seeing ads for it all over the PC. So they are starting with stage plays and will move on to other films/plays.

      Facebook constantly has ads for BD2. Its not really an ad for BD2 thoough its for XFINITY. You know, the “Like” us if you love BD2. there are others that say “Like” us if you love Robert Pattinson’s films. There’s also one for Vampire Bella. Notice nothing for “Like” Us if you love Kristen Stewart’s films, only if you love Vampire Bella. Wonder why that is………………………

      • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 1:18 PM #


        That was a really great question and statement. I have an answer for that and I will offer it at the discussion (tonight).

      • Open Book September 20, 2012 at 6:18 PM #


        ITA about film posters becoming PC/Tablet advertising in the future, I have something to add to your other comment on BD2 in another comment.

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 1:11 PM #


      To be honest with you, the site and the last discussion for “The Movie Poster: The Most Iconic Promotional Tool-Part 1” that we had about posters helped me to understand that posters are an integral part of the movie selling tradition and contemporary marketing also. I certainly hope they do not disappear.
      Contrary to questions I had early in writing that article, I can’t imagine posters ever disappearing. Hope I did not mislead you.

  3. parisienne September 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM #

    Hi Everyone,

    CR, great article. Do you feel that any type of marketing whether it be poster or otherwise will be obsolete in the future because of home video services like VOD? Soon, people aren’t going to have to go to theaters at all to see films. They can stream them directly into their homes.

    For example, I saw Bel Ami on VOD. I paid 10.00 for a 48 hr window but only watched it once. Thing is, I didn’t have to find a theater, waste the gas and I paid only slightly more than what one would pay for a ticket anyway.

    How do you think film promotions will be marketed toward VOD in the future?

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 7:15 PM #


      That’s an excellent question and statement; give me a moment to answer you.

      • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 7:25 PM #

        “Soon, people aren’t going to have to go to theaters at all to see films. They can stream them directly into their homes.”


        I fear you may be exactly right. Yet I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you whether audiences will give up the far more social viewing experience of going to the theatre to see movies.

        Some enjoy the being part of a consensus that is laughing, awed by a shocking moment, or frightened (as a group) by a ghoulish experience.

        How will VOD be marketed to audience who want more privacy or isolation I am not sure. Yet I hope we can learn about what we might be losing before and if that day comes.

        • littlebells September 20, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

          I still love getting dressed up (yeah, I’m from THAT generation. hahaha!) and going to the movies. I don’t know if theaters will go away because how many teenagers want to take their date to a movie in their family room with mom and dad? Plus I’m not spending money on a projector to blow up the film image to fill my wall space. I’m already particular as it is when it comes to spending money on a film, so I don’t mind shelling out my ridiculous movie fee to see a film.

          • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

            “I don’t know if theaters will go away because how many teenagers want to take their date to a movie in their family room with mom and dad?”


            • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

              “I’m already particular as it is when it comes to spending money on a film, so I don’t mind shelling out my ridiculous movie fee to see a film.”

              I think we are in agreement. 🙂

  4. Open Book September 20, 2012 at 7:02 PM #


    I”m sad I can’t be here for the discussion tonight I really love this topic. None the less I have a few things to add. David Chen mentions the floating head syndrome on DVD covers, which is another term for seeing the head of an actor or actress instead of nice cover art that’s featured on posters. The truth is a lot more thought goes into creating film posters because it has to do so much. For example it has to introduce audiences to either the story, actor and be engaging enough to make u see the film.

    A good example of a nice three-dimensional cover art was for the film Cosmopolis. The art is telling a story. I really love the pink typography used for the title. It reminds me of the neon lights u find at a adult nightclub. So it automatically let’s u know this film might be a bit explicit. Then New York in the background and this guy in a limo deep in thought, now, before u analyze what he’s wearing there’s a cold blue lighting begging u to ask what the hell is happening? The guy looks successful what is he thinking? I could go on and on. But I’m just using Cosmopolis as an example because it’s more recent and we’ve seen the poster. All I’m saying the cover art should have visual layers that creates its own narrative yet hint what the story is about.

  5. Open Book September 20, 2012 at 7:08 PM #


    U said: “There’s also one for Vampire Bella. Notice nothing for “Like” Us if you love Kristen Stewart’s films, only if you love Vampire Bella. Wonder why that is………………………”

    Well u are what u eat? U eat too much junk food then u eventually get sick. People are attracted to healthy things IMO. It’s really say’s something that people are more attracted to vampires then Kristen.

  6. Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 7:11 PM #

    Welcome new and returning visitors.

  7. littlebells September 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM #

    Hi everyone!

    I have noticed lots of ads on the internet. Internet ads are NOW our future because it seems everyone is on a laptop, iphone, ipad, etc…Honestly I don’t pay much attention to the posters in theater lobbies. Actually, tbh, the internet ads are annoying. There is already too much aesthetic stimulus. However, I get how it is beneficial. I guess…:)

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

      Hi LB.

      • littlebells September 20, 2012 at 7:37 PM #

        Hi CR and Ozzie!

        • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 7:54 PM #

          Hi LB!

          I agree with the internet promotion gaining popularity especially over the last few years. It seemed like every site was on had a movie background, banners or boxes down the side etc. Fortunately, I’ve just up my internet security and I see none of it now! It’s so nice not to see them, plus my computer isn’t freezing or running as slow as it used to be!

          • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM #


            Glad to hear you have fewer technical problems.

            Actually I have two part two articles to do about (Posters and DVD covers). When I am done with those I’ll see whether I can do an article on internet or web advertising for feature film.

            • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 8:34 PM #

              Oooow, that will be fun! 🙂

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

      “There is already too much aesthetic stimulus. However, I get how it is beneficial. I guess…:)”


      OMG, thousands of graphic designers, photographers and illustrators are dropping dead into their graves.

      • littlebells September 20, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

        Haha! I know. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate their hard work because i have no talent in that area whatsoever. Sometimes there is too much going on and less can be more.

        • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 8:21 PM #

          Hmmmmm, O.K. Maybe their falling twitching into their graves; maybe they are not dead yet.

  8. ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

    Hi all!

    Cool article CR! I had never really thought about the packaging before and I agree that the posters are better then the DVD covers.

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!!!!!

      • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

        Hi CR! 🙂

  9. littlebells September 20, 2012 at 8:28 PM #


    Have dvd covers/movie posters always been different or is this more recent?

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 8:59 PM #


      They have always been different because they have very different jobs. Until recently one spoke to pedestrians. The other sits on a shelf frequently with only the spine showing.

      • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 9:08 PM #

        Is only showing the spine in a store or where ever else a common thing in the U.S.?

        • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM #

          Yes, in some stores and library’s.

          • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 9:34 PM #

            Ah, thanks. That clears the little bit of confusion I had! I don’t know about libraries (got used to having to buy my books due to a rubbish library) but popular DVD’s here are shown cover forward and stacked that way. It’s completely like that at my local supermarket even the older films. Others that specialise which have a wider range in music, dvd, video games etc, are the same with new films but the older films are shown with the spine forward.

  10. ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 8:42 PM #

    Why don’t they put the poster image on the DVD cover? I would! It makes sense to me to put the poster that had drawn viewers to the film in the first place on the DVD cover. But I’m not the expert so I know nothing, lol!

    • Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 9:09 PM #


      You may not be an expert but that’s a nobel prize winning question!!!!!! You bulletproof internet genius!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Here’s a shot at an answer:

      Look at the posters. You can probably barely read the type now. Large posters are designed for the wall. DVD covers are designed for your hand.

      They typically have to redesign poster images because they will not work (read) at at such a small size.

      Chen seems to believe that posters and DVD covers are the same or have the same job.

      Get ready, I’m going to send you a gazillion internet points.

      • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 9:36 PM #

        LOL! I well I thought it was a stupid question! Thanks for explaining, it makes sense now!

  11. Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 8:51 PM #

    Here’s my take on David Chen’s assessments:

    1. This one I could go either way on. Snarky subjective showdowns are Internet gold but does it matter if one thousand like and one thousand hate. Sounds like a draw to me.

    Yet the DVD cover does do more to tell you who actually appears in the movie. I certainly would not go or pay for a drippy diamond (metaphorical or not).

    2. I like both of these equally.

    3. I dislike both of these equally. I saw the movie that I agree was really compelling. Unlike the “Cosmopolis” poster neither of these images tell you anything about the film. Essentially the movie was about heroes who were trying to protect the last child bearing pregnant woman left in the world. Basically the human race is dependent on her to deliver for another wise dying population.

    4. Sorry never saw this movie so it is hard to tell. The Asian type suggests that this may be a film foreign to the US. With a name like Chen maybe he saw it and can testify to what the movie is about. All I can tell is the man with the tie seems to be in the worst danger because the women (in the poster) with the gun may be threatening him too.

    5. I could either way with this set. Yes the poster is imposing. Idi Amin was on evil dictator. Strangely neither document features James MacAvoy who was the narrator for this biopic. Obviously I saw this film also.

    6. I think these two are equally good. Mark Walberg must have had a horrible agent because he is mentioned in text but is not presented in either of the documents presented. I saw this film also. ODDLY CHEN NEVER DISCUSSES THE BACK, SPINE, OR THE ACTUAL DVD DISK IMAGE. UNLIKE THE POSTER, THESE SIDES ARE PART OF THE DVD PRESENTATION ALSO. Maybe Walberg and MacAvoy are presented there.

    7. Sorry this is a nice image but it’s really hard to tell whose starring in this movie from the Poster. I’d say he’s completely wrong on this one.

    8. I think the poster is cool yet. Yet I appreciate the DVD cover telling me Scarlet Johanson is in the movie also. Some members of the audience like to be reassured that actresses are in the movie.

    9. I think these two are pretty equal. And I love the art deco design effects in the poster.

  12. Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

    Hopefully when I get around to writing part 2 I hope to discuss all of the advertising fronts of the DVD cover again: the front, back, spine, and the actual interior DVD disk image. IMHO I think the DVD cover has a much harder job to pull off than the poster. Yet I respect them differently yet equally.

    • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 9:37 PM #

      Cool, I’ll look forward to this!

  13. Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM #

    Sorry it’s past my bedtime. Thanks everyone for coming.
    Bye Littlebells, & Ozzie. Talk to you later OB.

    • ozzie20 September 20, 2012 at 9:41 PM #

      Night all from me too! I’ve had fun tonight! 🙂

  14. Comic Relief September 20, 2012 at 9:49 PM #


    Glad you thought so. I’m really going to leave this time. Bye everyone.

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