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Another Example of Pushing Customers to Blu-Ray: Bolt Release Staggered
January 21, 2009

I knew studios were pushing the Blu-ray format hard in their product announcements, but I was surprised to see them stacking the deck when it comes to release dates.

Normally, DVDs are released for sale on Tuesdays. On March 24, Disney’s Bolt will be available in a one-disc edition at $30 or a two-disc version at $33. The second disc contains these extra features:

  • “I Thought I Lost You” music video.
  • The recording of the song.
  • “First-time directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard take fans along as they traverse the road from concept to completion.”
  • A voice cast recording session: John Travolta (Bolt), Miley Cyrus (Penny), Susie Essman (Mittens), James Lipton (Director), and Mark Walton (Rhino).
  • A featurette on “Bolt’s painterly backgrounds” and
    “the unique look of this CG movie.”
  • Deleted scenes.
  • A digital copy of the movie.

For $40, you can get the Blu-ray version … and it comes out two days early, on Sunday, March 22. It includes the following extra extras, above and beyond the DVD bonuses:

  • Bolt’s Be-Awesome Mission, an interactive game.
  • Bolt Art Gallery — early creative concepts, storyboards, character mock-ups. (Wonder if that’ll address the whitewashing of the original creator?)
  • BD-Live includes Movie Chat, Movie Mail, Movie Challenge and Movie Rewards.

Not offering customers a fair choice is one way to goose the sales figures and make the Blu-ray format look more popular, I guess.

12 Responses  
Charles RB writes:  

This sort of tactic gives me the impression Blu-Ray isn’t selling that well.

I thought the way capitalism and the free market is supposed to work is that this would _stop_ the studios pushing Blu-Ray, as the consumers aren’t buying. Apparently that’s _not_ how capitalism and the free market works when you’re a large company.

 
eczema writes:  

Marketeers call it “added value.” It’s basically like an upsale, because you’re getting the disk 2 days earlier, you get the extra features. The problem is, who really wants to go out and spend the money on a BR Player. I certainly don’t. The quality of DVD is fine in my opinion. Actually, unless it’s an old favorite that I can’t live without, I’ll just dl the damn thing, watch once and delete. Blue Ray and HD are a shame is what I’m trying to say.

 
Thom writes:  

I feel like CWR’s token Blu-Ray defender (sorry about that, Johanna :) ).

As far as the blu-ray only features, that is not an issue of choice (In the sense that Disney is not keeping them off of the standard DVD). Those are simply things blu-ray is capable of due to the formatting and amount of space on the discs. DVD is just not capable of those items.

The two days earlier thing is silly, stick to standard release dates. It’s less confusing for the public. I prefer Disney’s last idea. The Sleeping Beauty Blu-Ray came with a standard def DVD at no extra cost.

As far as the more negative comments regarding the format…I am feeling a sense of deja vu from when I worked at a video store in the early days of DVD. People complained about having DVD being pushed on them, trying to force them to adapt to new technology when they had perfectly good VHS at home. People were quite incensed at this intrusion. And back then, the idea that you would *have* to replace your VHS seemed far more likely.

And to be honest? I don’t get the aggressiveness about it. People do not seem to be content to say “not interested right now.” I am not speaking about your initial posts, Johanna. I feel you have given very balanced reasons for your concerns. But it seems like every time you have made a post about the Blu-Ray push, people leap in to declare how stupid it is anyways and they like their standard def. And that’s great. It is an incredibly new format (barely three years old). And people seem to have developed a network TV mentality. Three episodes in and it is not a huge hit? Cancel it! It isn’t like “I am taking a wait and see” attitude, which I completely understand. But the reactions seem…over the top.

 
Johanna writes:  

Hey, I appreciate the different perspective.

My antipathy towards Blu-Ray stems from it not being *significantly* different from DVD in any way that matter to consumers. The two biggest distinctions that I can name are these: 1) it’s supposedly better protected, which prevents people from using content they buy in ways they might find convenient and 2) it costs a lot more.

From my perspective, people were saying “not interested”, and as a result, the studios are stepping up their pressure to push the format harder. When people feel under pressure from lots of different forces, they may get a little more involved in something like this that they feel like they might still have a say in.

Very interesting opinions, thanks.

 
Thom writes:  

I think it is stepped up a bit, but I think part of that is the incredibly shorter attention span of the public means they can’t build up over time, like DVD got to. DVD had a real chance to “win people over.” Granted, DVD was dramatically different from VHS, whereas Blu-Ray is another disc. I think the plus to it is that Blu-Ray players are back compatible. Not like one of those “a DVD and VHS deck combined” way, but that the player can read either format, which reduces the “I have to buy my movie collection again?! What a scam” concerns some folks have had.

I am not so sure it is lack of interest as much as HD was not really on the radar until people found out that broadcast standards were changing. I was back to working at a video store last year, and a lot of customers were surprised to hear about the switch to a digital signal, and just had no real idea what “blu-ray” was.

The HD-DVD/Blu-Ray format war ended before people were fully aware it was going on. And ten or eleven years ago, Blu-Ray could have taken it’s time building an audience…but geez, people are trying to declare it a failed format in under three years. I think I would be trying to convince people to try my product extra hard if people were trying to call it DOA and I thought it was a better product. :)

I was interested by a study where people were saying they could not tell the difference between a Hi-Def pic and a standard Def pic. I can see a major difference, personally. On the other hand, music-philes swear vinyl is superior to digital audio and I can’t tell the defference in quality (except that a CD and MP3 don’t have the hiss of a record.

 
David S. writes:  

Thom wrote:

“As far as the blu-ray only features, that is not an issue of choice (In the sense that Disney is not keeping them off of the standard DVD). Those are simply things blu-ray is capable of due to the formatting and amount of space on the discs. DVD is just not capable of those items.”

Not trying to pick an argument, but that is not always the case. There is no reason why the “Bolt Art Gallery” cannot be included on the 2-disc DVD edition. Art Galleries have long been a staple of 2 disc Disney animated DVD sets.

 
Karl K writes:  

HEB released BOLT two disc DVD & one disc DVD on 3/20. It’s said to be authorized. My kids loved it.

 
Disney Continues Desperately Pushing Blu-Ray » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[...] they released the Blu-Ray version of Bolt two days early, to goose sales [...]

 
Jacob N writes:  

Blu-ray is a desperate push to overcharge the consumer one last time.
Truthfully a well done DVD look excellent on HDTV, where DVDs looked like a great improved over VHS. As well as sportin never before seen features, that revolutionized the market. All blu-ray is is another disc and not much different or better than DVD

 
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Diamond Edition » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[...] attempt to drive customers to the more expensive Blu-Ray format. Last time, with Bolt, it was only two days early, [...]

 
The Final Countdown: December 4th Edition | Culture Blues writes:  

[...] their DVDs less appealing. First, they tried releasing the Blu Ray of Bolt (I'll get my ball) two days before the DVD. Now, they’re releasing a Terminator: Salvation DVD far inferior to the Blu Ray. The DVD contains [...]

 
Disney Announces Wreck-It Ralph Available Digitally a Month Before Disc Releases » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[...] is going to be affected down the road. They did it with DVD and Blu-ray, staggering releases for Bolt and Snow White to bring out the Blu-ray first. Now, with the announcement of the home video release [...]

 
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