So as a general rule, I don’t like to pay more than $15 for a Blu-Ray Disc. I get most my BDs off of Amazon eye (masks for sleeping) using points/coupons from my credit-card, so I’ll go ahead and spend a little more in that case for something I really want. Also, I find that box sets can usually get you to that price point as well. A few years ago, Fry’s had the entire Star Trek collection for $59, which worked out roughly to $10 per movie, and since I was reading at the Anders Fogh blog how good are these movies, I decided it was a good purchase. If I find a BD for less than $10, and it’s anything remotely decent, I buy it Gorgeous and Stuff. I had quite a party at Best Buy on Black Friday last year where prices were as low as $7.99.
So Disney’s consumer-behavior-big-brother-marketing-machine figured out I buy BDs and have kids, so they sent me an offer to join their Movie club. Like most people, there are quite a few Disney classics I’m a fan of and they are now just repeating the limited time from the vault game on BD. They did this years ago with VCR and then DVD where the movie is only available for a limited time. Throw in the ABC TV shows, Pixar, Marvel (future movies only) and Touchstone studios, and there’s quite a bit of high value content there.
Cracking the Value Code
The deal is very similar to the old BMG Music clubs that would send you 10 CDs for $.01 as long as you committed to buying X more at regular (full-retail + shipping) club prices over the next year. The kicker was you had to return a post-card if you didn’t want that month’s selection, and inevitably you’d forget and get a CD you didn’t want at an obnoxious price.
Fast-forward 10 years, and the basic contract hasn’t changed that much, but the difference now is you have email and the Internet to make the monthly decision process much simpler to execute.
First off, the basic membership kit that Disney offers on their front facing Blu-Ray page is NOT the one you want. This one is for folks really bad at math. Here they ask you to buy 3 movies at $1.99 and one at $19.95 (with free shipping) but then you have to buy 5 more at the full price. $29.95, and pay for shipping & tax. Note shipping is $3.95 for the first one, and $1.49 each addition title. So assuming you’re going to finish your commitment in the first month, you end up paying:
(3 * 1.99) + 19.95 + (5 * 29.95) + (9% tax) + 3.95 + (4 * 1.49) = 179.64/8 = 22.46/BD
So not a great deal by any means since the average price on Amazon for the same movies is around 19.95, and if you buy two of them, you can get free shipping. But if you do a simple search for the Disney BD Coupon Code, you suddenly find something much better deal. 5 movies for $1 with just a 4 movie commitment! But add a 6th for $11.95 and it counts towards your commitment, and you can then add a 7th for $8.95 (free shipping for the first 7). Now this is looking interesting. Doing the same math as above:
(5 * .20) + $11.85 + 8.95 + (3 * 29.95) + (9% tax) + 3.95 + (2 * 1.49) = 128.74/10 = 12.87/BD
Almost half the cost of the first deal with a far smaller commitment. But now you have to wonder, is there any way to improve on that?
As it turns out, there’s always room for negotiation. Back to my multi-movie set comment at the beginning, Disney will also give you multiple commitment credit for buying multi-packs. You just need to call the 800 number to find out what commitment credit they’ll give you for a particular pack. That number can be a little tricky to find, so I included it here. So I filled my 3 disc commitment by buying Fantasia (2 movie pack which counted as 1) and Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (which counted as 2). The difference here brought the average price down to $12.32. If you’re an ABC TV fan, you might be able to get there with past season of Lost, or something similar and do even better than me. As an added value, I prefer packages which also come with a DVD which we can leave at Grandma’s house, so I created a spreadsheet which assigned half a BD value when it included a DVD version (see attached). With that calculation, I’m down to $10 a disc, but even at $13, I’m still below my $15 limit for some pretty decent flicks. If you walk through their catalog, and play with the spreadsheet, you might be able to get it lower than $12.
Should I Stay or Should I go now?
So once you’ve fulfilled your commitment, should you cancel your membership? Keep in mind when you’re fulfilling your commitment, you have to pay the full retail price, which is usually $29.99 or more, but once you’re done, you have the option to buy at the discount price. If you stay, my advice is to always comparison shop. Sometimes you can find it cheaper on Amazon, and sometimes you can’t. For instance, the Snow White Diamond Edition is only $15.98 for members while the same BD on Amazon is 26.99. Even with Amazon not charging sales tax (how much longer can they keep that up?) and potentially free shipping, the club price still wins.
If it is your goal to collect the Disney classics, then they certainly make it easy to see when each one is coming out on Blu-Ray, and when they are going back to the vault. Snow White, Fantasia and Pinocchio are being pulled at the end of April. They are also occasionally offer a $10 upgrade coupon if you own the VHS (or DVD). That’s going to help keep the used market for Disney VHS movies alive.
On the other hand, you do have to be diligent about canceling the monthly title, and you will eventually forget. Furthermore, it gives them the opportunity to up-sell you every month, and you’ll probably end up buying things you normally wouldn’t of considered. My advice is to cancel the membership as soon as possible.
One thing to keep in mind is you are making a $130 commitment over the next year or two (check the agreement when you sign up). Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the fine. Also, beware they also play the game of releasing the movie on BD alone, then following it up with the “Diamond” or “Platinum” Edition, so make sure you know what you’re buying. If you do stay in the club, I recommend you keep the spreadsheet and track your cost/BD and quit when it hits your limit.