Hollywood is a business. A big business. A ten billion dollar box office per year kind of business. While that is an impressive number, you also have to remember that I said “box office,” which is ignoring the home video market. If you include direct sales only, that’s another $5 billion. I swore that I would never do math again after college, so I’m not going to bother with rentals and licenses and all that shit. Suffice it to say, Hollywood is a big business.
And they want to be bigger, like all businesses. Enter the shady world of rehashing. The repeated raping of your wallet. There was a time when it was as simple as releasing a Special Edition or Collector’s Edition of a movie. Now, films have two theatrical releases, get remastered in 3D and sent to theaters, and are then released on three to four separate DVD releases.
As a super-fan, I’m excited to get Collector’s Editions – I’ll even double dip now and then, but the process has gone too far and offers too little.The word rehash has a very specific definition: to bring forth again in another form without significant alteration. By definition, you could have a standard DVD release and a Collector’s Edition and it wouldn’t be a rehash. A Criterion Collection is not a rehash of a previous release because a lot of stuff is added. That’s one way to make money, but the profit margin just isn’t big enough. You see, to provide another edition of a movie that actually adds something, it takes money and work and work takes more money. It’s expensive to create a lot of extra special features, so it’s easier if you just don’t have to do that.
Now, Hollywood isn’t lazy, so they’re willing to do that work, but they’d like to get paid for it twice. An increasingly common and increasingly bullshitesque technique is to release a movie to home video with nothing on the discs, and then release the actual version you’d want to own later, hoping that you buy both. The two most recognizable examples of this are currently Avatar, which released nothing-added discs “to meet the urgent demand” of people to see it again, and then later released a bigger Collector’s Edition, and Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, which did the same thing. Technically neither of these is a rehash, but both are fucking stupid. I actually pre-ordered Transformers 3, but luckily it was brought to my attention that the disc was bare, so I cancelled my order in time. Lame shit.
When you want to talk rehashes, you simply can’t ignore The Evil Dead franchise. There are several different DVD releases of each movie in the trilogy and several different Blu-rays and each one with the most minimal amount of changes – basically put a new cover on it, release it again, and watch the suckers buy it. Kind of a bitch move.
But the absolute worst, in my opinion, is something like a backsliding rehash. A re-release of a movie to home video that actually is worse than the one that came before it. A release that actually loses special features, or that presents them in a worse way.
Unfortunately, beautiful Blu-ray has opened up a wonderful world of profit that must be exploited. If you’ve ever switched back and forth between watching DVDs and Blu-rays, the difference is staggering and extremely noticeable, provided you have an HDTV. So people want to upgrade their favorite movies to Blu-ray. To meet this demand, Hollywood is more than happy to transfer the films to HD, but they’re not so keen on spending the time and money to send over the extras.
So now, when you upgrade your film to Blu-ray, you can potentially lose a lot of features. I have owned two DVD copies of John Carpenter’s The Thing because I absolutely fucking love that movie, but I resisted purchasing it on Blu-ray for (literally) years because virtually all of the special features were gone, replaced with the useless built-in Blu-ray features like U-Control Picture in Picture and the riveting U-Control Tutorial.
This is worse than a rehash. I finally broke down and buy The Thing on Blu-ray after a coworker told me the quality of the picture was exceptional, but I can’t get rid of the DVD copy, because it has all the special features on it. So now I’m stuck with two discs, one for the picture quality on the movie and one for the extras I want to see. A true first world problem if ever there were one.
It comes down on us as consumers to make the choices between what we buy and what we don’t. We have to pay attention and make sure we’re not falling prey to rehashes, double dips, and bare bones releases. That’s true – but it’s bullshit that Hollywood is nickel and diming us, considering how much of our money we’re already giving them. We demand full, worthwhile releases of our favorite films, so why doesn’t Hollywood supply them? Personally, anytime I come across a blatant cash-grabbing rehash or an abysmal, bare re-release, I go past my boiling point.