Ever since I picked up my first DVD player way back in 2000, I’ve had a bit of an obsession with special features on those discs. Why? Because the show bits and pieces of what happens behind-the-screens. You’ve also got interviews with the cast and crew that shows a little bit more insight into the making of a film. One of the most interesting special features that was introduced on DVD’s was the full-feature commentary. This usually involves the director and maybe some cast and crew members getting together and discussing the scene as it happens. Obviously, you’ve also got your standard trailers and previews. Most DVDs had quite a bit of features on those discs. Some of those discs also had extended cuts of the film that were never previously released. The best example of special features is the Alien Quadrilogy which was released back in 2003. It was a 9-disc set. Each film not only had it’s own disc, but each of those discs housed two versions of the film. That was not all. Each film also got a second disc that had extensive behind-the-scenes footage. The final disc in the set housed all the trailers and promotional materials and stuff that was seen on older Laserdisc copies. The Alien Quadrilogy ended up being one of the best examples of a DVD Boxed Set.
Between 2006 and 2009, we saw two high-definition formats competing for the market: HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray ultimately won out in the end, but the idea for these new discs was to give people a sharper picture of movies at 1080p, if you had the HDTV for it. A single Blu-Ray disco could contain up to 50 gigabytes of information, which allowed for much sharper picture, but also better audio quality. The special features were also carried over from DVDs. Blu-Rays are now pretty much the standard when it comes to home video entertainment. However, at some point over the past 7 or 8 years, I’ve seen movie studios try different ways to market their Blu-Ray releases. Paramount got a serious amount of backlash, because their home video release of Star Trek Into Darkness, had special features spread across different releases. The special features you got, depended entirely on which store you got the movie from. It pissed off a lot of people. Thankfully, that didn’t last very long. But something has been happening, and it’s something that I really don’t like: Online-only special features. I bring this up, because I recently bought The Fate of the Furious on Blu-Ray a couple of days ago. I found the movie to be very entertaining, and mostly worth the purchase price. However, on the Blu-Ray sleeve as well as on the back of the case itself, it’s mentioned there is a code to watch the extended version of the film online. Why the fuck wasn’t the extended version included on the disc? Now, I understand that people are moving towards digital means of watching movies, which includes streaming. Amazon does it, Netflix does it, and you’ve got services like Vudu that also provide the same service. I get it, and I use it from time to time, but I’m an old fashioned kind of guy when it comes to home video. I prefer having a hard copy.
Now, to be fair to Fate, if you bought the film on disc, you don’t have to pay extra for the extended version. But you DO have to sign up for a digital service. Again, it’s not necessarily something that you have to pay for, unless you’re buying or renting movies through that service. If you have a code, you get a free digital copy. In case you lose your disc or something happens, you still have a copy of the film. THAT was a smart move. What pisses me off about some of these special features, is that some of them are exclusive only to certain platforms. For example, some features you can’t get unless you have an account through iTunes. Who is the fucking idiot that came up with that game-plan? The problem with exclusive features or movies, is that some people who don’t want to use those services are left out in the cold. Some of these movie studios, be it Universal, Fox or Paramount, have a preferred digital platform. Okay, fine. If you want to use that platform, knock yourself out, but at least have the same special feature set on the platform be the same that is on the physical disc. THAT would make more sense to me. This exclusivity bullshit is pissing me off though, and having certain special features, like an extended cut of a film, be online-only just serves to push people away. That’s not how you make money.