Put the Special Back in Special Edition and Make the Collector’s Edition Worth Collecting

I’ve never been accused of being particularly smart with money. For the longest time I thought having an “addictive personality” was a good thing, like people really couldn’t get enough of you, which I thought was applicable, but it turns out the real definition is just as apt.

You see, I have always been a collector of things. All sorts of stuff. If I liked it, not only did I want it, but I wanted all of it. Whether it was a complete run of the original GI Joe comics (I ended up with around 130 of the 155), a complete run of The ‘NAM, vending machine toys, or movies, I had to have them. I had to own them. As a born sucker, apparently, I was the perfect target for “Collector’s Editions,” “Special Editions,” and everything else you can call a release to convince someone that it’s part of a larger whole.

Sometimes, it was worth it. Sometimes it was really worth it, like getting the Evil Dead films in Book of the Dead format. Awesome. But often, it was just a sham – and things have gotten worse. Much worse. What’s so special about these editions anyway?This all started when I was staring at the Brave Collector’s Edition Blu-ray 3 Disc Combo Pack sitting on my desk. There was a sticker on it telling me about all the discs and the exclusive short. The Pixar movie is available in three releases – the regular DVD, the Blu-ray Collector’s Edition, and the 5 Disc Collector’s 3D Collector’s Edition, in case you’re even more of a collector. So if you’ve got a Blu-ray player, you can be a collector, because that’s the only way to get the real bonus features that both the 3-Disc and 5-Disc sets have. All of them get the short and all of them have a DVD version of the film.

The big difference between the 3 and 5 Disc set? Well, obviously, one has the 3D transfer of the film, but all you’re really getting is a digital copy of the film. It is literally the 3-Disc release with the addition of a disc for the digital download and the disc for the 3D release. I would argue that, realistically, only one of these is a Collector’s Edition and you’d have to give it to the 5-Disc for the sake of it having more, but is it really that much more special?

If you reach out to pull virtually any “Special Edition” or “Collector’s Edition” off your shelf right now, you’ll likely notice that all it is is a Blu-ray with a DVD version of the film that likely also has a digital copy on it. So the Collector’s Edition just gives you more formats (one good format and two inferior ones) while the regular non-Collector’s Edition will just be a DVD. Or sometimes a DVD with the digital copy as well. So the definition of a home release Collector or Special release is… Blu-ray and DVD?

To be fair, sometimes the Blu-ray release will have some extra special features that are only available on Blu-ray, thanks to the increased capacity of the discs and the desire of studios to make people upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all that’s going on – studios giving DVD owners the shaft in hopes that they’ll upgrade to Blu-ray. I don’t have too big of a problem with that because, come on people, switch to Blu-ray already.

Nightmare Before Christmas Collector's Edition

Note the free hat.

What I do have a problem with is calling what should be a normal release the “Special Edition.” The DVD should be called the Unspecial or the Barebones or, accurately, the Rental Edition. Today, most new releases on Blu-ray will just come with the DVD in it so that people will buy Blu-ray knowing that, at some point, they’ll get a Blu-ray player, while in the mean time they can watch the film on DVD. Really, buying a DVD doesn’t make much sense at this point in time, unless saving $3-4 is really worthwhile to you.

But let’s not get distracted, damn it. As someone willing to throw my money on nice things, I want truly special editions! Not just releases that have the available features. That’s the understood minimum job of the regular release (The DVD-only release is a new kind of bitch slap for fans).

So what makes a release truly special? What is worthy of the title “Collector’s Edition?”  I don’t think it’s just another bullshit disc stuck in the box. Definitely not a fucking digital version of the film.

Serenity had a cool Collector’s Edition that came in a neat box – yes, presentation matters. Silverado came as a 2-Disc Gift Set that came in awesome packaging with a deck of playing cards. The recent Father’s Day release had Blu-rays and DVDs, sure, but also the Soundtrack and special art. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas also came in excellent 3D packaging, while 2004’s The Punisher‘s release came with new art, a cool box, and a comic book. Mystery Science Theater 3000 often comes in collectible tins and sometimes with cool figures inside.

These are real collector’s editions! Stuff you’re proud to own, or at least as proud as you can be while sinking into crushing debt.

What you might notice about a lot of these releases is that the quality special editions often came out much later than the theatrical release. Retrospectives. There would be a real release, not some Avatar or Transformers 3 style asshole release with nothing on it, but an honest-to-goodness release with special features meant to make you want to own the film, rather than rent it, and then later new stuff would be added, everything would be updated, and you’d get something awesome.

Today, Special Editions and Collector’s Editions are released side by side. One of them is a full release and the other is a kick in the teeth. That pushes me past my boiling point. Sure, it’s just being pissed about marketing, but I’ll get damned mad over whatever the hell I want.

There is just nothing special about a release that has the extras it’s supposed to. When did the standard release become special? Why is getting what we always got supposed to be somehow better than it used to be?

I want some real Special Editions. Some real Collector’s Editions. Stuff that sits on top of your DVD shelf rather than in it. Something that says “Hey, I really dig this film” not something that says “Hey I wanted to own it and I have a Blu-ray player so here I am.”

Is that so wrong? Make it worthwhile, Hollywood, and put the Special back in Special Edition.

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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