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I don't know why silent films keep getting transferred in HD, but released on DVD. If you aren't doing a lot of digital restoration, the cost isn't that different to release a blu-ray. Maybe the people putting out these DVDs are comfortable mastering for DVD and haven't done the research on authoring for blu-ray yet.
I wonder if maybe they know, or believe, that their most likely audience/customers haven't moved up to Blu-ray so that DVD's are a better bet for sales.
If you are replicating and not duplicating (-/+r) the cost is much, much higher for BluRay. Additionally, with replication the min order is 1000 units, and niche-market silents are not going to do that kind of sales. The up-front costs of replicating 1000 blurays far outweighs potential royalties in most cases. I have found the same to be true with DVDs; the one DVD that I replicated (min order 500 units) has yet to sell 250 units over 3 years. And yes, a lot of people still do not own BR players; cost of making both BR and DVD in a release is also prohibitive. For a release of a non-Keaton niche silent on BR, a limited edition Bluray-R run may be worth considering, but it still means add'l work and upfront costs.
I'm finding with a lot of my non-silent movie hobbies (Rifftrax, anime etc.) that it's really difficult to get Blu Rays made if you aren't going to sell a million copies. Sadly the BD market isn't what the DVD market was back 15 years ago and never will be again. I'd love more Blu Ray options but the sad thing is, for most of this stuff DVD is decent enough. Of course, I only have a 32" TV (which is much smaller than what seems to be standard) so I'm not examining every pixel.
well, on the subject of the actual contents, I have to say that Dorian Gray is an interesting movie (if, sadly, missing the opening section) and certainly worth the price of admission alone. Ned Thanhouser was kind enough to let me see it a few years ago when I was doing some research, and it's great to have one of the seven or more silent Dorian Gray films finally out there. Another is supposed to exist in private hands from what I remember, but whether that is true or not I guess we shall probably never know.
Can't you sell a thousand copies of this disc if you market it well? The DVD market is dying. I won't buy anything that is mastered in HD but released on DVD myself. I suspect I'm not alone in that. If you truly can't sell a thousand copies of treasures from the Library of Congress in great HD transfers on blu-ray, what hope is there?