News Home RSS Feed

Friday, October 2, 2009

Paramount Experiments with Two-Tiered Pricing on Upcoming DVD Releases

Paramount Home Entertainment has introduced a two-tiered pricing model on select titles.  Paramount is releasing some small box office as well as straight-to-DVD titles as rental versions.  After unveiling the rental editions, Paramount will then release retail versions for the consumer marketplace.

The differences between retail and rental editions vary per title.  While all rental versions are higher-priced and have earlier release dates than retail editions, some rental versions lack any bonus or special features.  Additionally, ratings can differ between both editions.  In some cases, Paramount releases Blu-ray editions for retail purchase on the same day as the rental edition.

Video Business notes that Paramount individually evaluates their titles and implements this pricing and releasing strategy on a case-by-case basis¹. Furthermore, as Paramount experiments with two-tiered pricing and releasing, other studios might test similar strategies as well.  For instance, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment tried this strategy with one title, The Maiden Heist, a $20,000 box office title starring Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken.  When any studio experiments with this strategy, we’ll be sure to keep our customers informed.

Paramount first began this two-tiered pricing model on the small box office feature film, Dance Flick.  On September 8th, 2009, Paramount released the Blu-ray edition and rental edition of Dance Flick.  The rental edition did not include director commentary or bonus features.  Intended for video rental, this higher-priced edition was not available for purchase in retail stores and had a limited availability.  Roughly six weeks later, the retail DVD edition of this title—which features extras and commentary and is unrated—will hit retailers’ shelves on October 6, 2009.

In the future, Paramount will release a handful of other feature films using this staggered-release, two-tiered pricing model.  Please reference the chart below for the titles Paramount is releasing under this strategy; (this chart also features Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s one title).

Stock Numbers
Street Dates
Key Differences
Dance Flick
Rental: PAR352604D
Rental: $32.99
Rental: 09/08/2009
Retail edition is unrated and has bonus features. Blu-ray edition releases with Rental edition.
Retail: PAR352604RD
Retail: $19.99
Retail: 10/06/2009
Imagine That
Rental: PAR7906806D
Rental: $32.99
Rental: 10/06/2009
Both versions feature the theatrical edit of the film. Blu-ray edition releases with Rental edition.
Retail: PAR7906806RD
Retail: $19.99
Retail: 11/24/2009
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Rental: PAR7906726D
Rental: $28.49
Rental: 11/10/2009
No corresponding Blu-ray release. 
Retail: PAR7906726RD
Retail: $17.24
Retail: 12/15/2009
The Marc Pease
Rental: PAR7906104D
Rental: $26.99
Rental: 11/03/2009
Straight-to-DVD title. No corresponding Blu-ray release. 
Retail: PAR7906104RD
Retail: $14.99
Retail: 12/08/2009
Wrong Turn at Tahoe
Rental: PAR7906708D
Rental: $26.99
Rental: 11/17/2009
Straight-to-DVD title. No corresponding Blu-ray release.  Retail edition will include a “making-of” bonus feature.
Retail: PAR7906708RD
Retail: $14.99
Retail: 01/05/2010
Rental: PAR7907485D
Rental: $32.99
Rental: 11/24/2009
Straight-to-DVD title. No corresponding Blu-ray release. 
Retail: PAR7907458RD
Retail: $19.99
Retail: 12/22/2009
The Maiden Heist
(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Rental: COL30915D
Rental: $34.99
Rental: 10/27/2009
Straight-to-DVD title. No corresponding Blu-ray release. Both versions have special features.
Retail: COL30913D
Retail: $16.99
Retail: 11/24/2009

Considering how this pricing and releasing experimentation affects our customers, we’d like to highlight a few points:

Customer Choice
While most customers prefer to obtain the limited-quantity, earlier-released rental version, others may wish to wait and receive the lower-priced retail version.  No matter what route customers go, we offer both retail and rental editions of any title affected by Paramount’s two-tiered model.

Cataloging (MARC) Issue 
Because these titles are different versions, rental and retail editions carry different stock numbers, ISBNs, and OCLC numbers.  For questions regarding cataloging one or both versions, please contact our MARC Records department at 1.800.875.2785.

Limited Availability for Rental Edition
Quantities are limited for Paramount’s rental editions.  Therefore, customers interested in this version need to pre-order titles as early as possible.  After street date, there’s no guarantee that orders placed for rental editions will be filled.

The Difference on Web, Customized Standing Orders, and Catalogs
We will list both versions of any title affected by Paramount’s two-tiered pricing model in our catalogs (see snapshot below), and customers can view both editions on our website.  However, because rental editions hit the market first, our customized standing orders feature this version.

If you have any questions regarding Paramount’s two-tiered pricing model and/or the content of retail and rental editions, please post them here as comments or contact our Customer Service Department at 1.800.875.2785.


  1. I saw the higher price for Imagine That a little while ago, and thought it might be the rental edition. Nice job of explaining a semi confusing topic. Thanks,

  2. Frankly, we don't like either alternative. Our customers like the added special features, but we don't want them waiting another 6 weeks. We certainly don't like paying more and getting less for a rental version.
    We are wondering what other public libraries are going to do.
    --Tom Causey
    Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library
    Tampa, Fl.

  3. This is profoundly disturbing. My library ordered the rental version of a film, and it is now unavailable. The only version that is available is the retail version, which is both a different cut and rating of the film. We can't order extra copies or replacements if we need them. So, if we don't order enough rental versions up front, does that mean that our patrons are forever denied access to this film from the library?

  4. Tom brings up the quintessential conundrum with this whole Paramount situation, and he poses an interesting question: What are other public libraries doing? We've noticed that most customers are purchasing the rental editions of these titles, because they want the product available to their patrons at the earliest possible date. And while rental editions usually lack the DVD bonus features, the experience of watching the film remains the same.

    Regarding the comment posted anonymously, it's unfortunate that Paramount offers only a limited amount of copies of their rental editions. However, if and when a library ever needs additional DVDs or replacements for their rental editions, we offer the retail editions as a substitution. And while some retail editions (e.g., Dance Flick) occasionally feature different edits of the film (making it unrated), the industry witnesses this regularly with re-releases and new editions of titles on DVD.

    What do others think?

  5. We don't purchase the unrated versions of DVDs, so this is an issue for us. I will always purchase the retail edition over the rental edition unless there is a difference in the rating.

    I did have a question...the different release dates are the same in the non-library world correct? Blockbuster/other rental places will get the rental edition on the rental release date, and the retail edition will be available for purchase everywhere else on the retail release date?

  6. Yes, these Paramount release dates are universal.
    Thanks for the excellent question.


We'd love to hear what you think! Just be sure to leave your name and email address or your username, so we can respond appropriately.