Should special features once prevalent on DVD’s be relegated solely to Blu-ray releases going forward? If Warner Home Video has their way that just may be the case.
One of the more anticipated (yet unavailable) films of recent years has been Michael Dougherty’s Halloween-themed anthology Trick ‘r Treat. After a premiere screening in December 2007 the movie was shelved by Warner Bros. for no good reason, only to see additional festival screenings last year. Finally bowing to strong pressure from fans demanding to see the film, WB recently announced a short theatrical run for the film this fall as well as an October DVD/Blu-ray release. Dougherty spoke with Fangoria and revealed some interesting news regarding that release.
There will be a standard-edition DVD which will pretty much just have the movie, and then the Blu-ray disc will have all the special features, ’cause that’s the way things are moving these days. There will be a documentary, the animated short film, SEASON’S GREETINGS, that kind of inspired the feature, deleted scenes, outtakes, all sorts of fun. And there will be a few different audio commentaries that are still in the works; I don’t know exactly who’ll be on them yet, but definitely me and hopefully some of the cast.”
Sounds like a great list of special features… but why the hell will they only be available on the Blu-ray?
Dougherty’s one-line argument that “that’s the way things are moving these days” is more than a little premature. According to the latest figures from Blu-ray.com, standard DVD still makes up over 88% of disc sales on a weekly basis. Total revenue does show an increase in Blu-ray sales and a decrease in DVD, but it’s a slow process. Don’t get me wrong, Blu-ray players are moving at a faster pace into people’s homes than DVD originally did. The most recent numbers I can find (EngadgetHD) show over 2.5 million Blu-ray players sold as of January of this year, and that’s in addition to over 8 million Playstation 3’s. By comparison, there were over 133 million DVD players sold as of 2007. (Digital Bits)
None of these stats justify short-changing DVD consumers who have yet (or have no plans) to upgrade to Blu-ray. So what other arguments are there?
Cost for one… special features cost the studios and/or labels extra money to create. Paying talent to record commentaries, hiring a production company to produce a making-of or behind the scenes featurette, etc all cost. That investment gets a better return rate on Blu-ray since the discs are priced roughly 30% more than DVD.
Practical use is another… the simple fact is that most consumers don’t watch a disc’s special features. Since Blu-ray is viewed as the format choice of true film aficionados why not reserve the extras for the people who’ll more likely be watching them?
Incentive is probably the biggest argument… if certain features are only available on Blu-ray will it force more consumers to take the plunge into the new format? Trick ‘r Treat may not be enough to move substantial numbers into Blu-ray, but what if Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen offers additional robot-on-robot action (or a Megan Fox shower scene) on the Blu-ray release only? What if Zac Snyder’s insightful Watchmen commentary is only available on Blu-ray? What if some releases start appearing only on Blu-ray foregoing the DVD all together?
Blu-ray discs already have some exclusive content, but should they receive all of it? If this becomes standard practice will it push you faster toward upgrading? Share your thoughts below!
Have you upgraded? Will you upgrade because of this? Do special features even matter to you?