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Why DVD Bonus Features Are Going to Get Worse
April 26, 2012

Mark Evanier sheds some uncomfortable light on what it’s like to be asked to be part of a DVD bonus feature. Too often, valuable sources like him are asked (even expected) to participate without compensation, regardless of the effect on their schedule. Many times, they aren’t even given a copy of the resulting DVD.

More and more, I don’t buy DVDs unless they provide substantial bonuses. (Especially when it comes to classic films, which I can otherwise record from TCM.) I want studios to create and include that material to make it worthwhile for me to own that movie, and I want them to fairly compensate the talent who contributes to that bonus material. If not, everyone loses out. The customer doesn’t get the benefit of added information from sources with substantial knowledge. The studio doesn’t sell as many discs as they could have. What we often end up with are lame examples of company executives telling us things we already know.

Unfortunately, given the way corporations think, I predict that, if valuable sources refuse to participate, the studios will simply quit doing bonus material and then continue complaining that home media sales are declining. Few companies these days are willing to give away a penny to make an extra dollar, although that’s the sensible strategy. As Evanier sums up,

You don’t have to make a buck off everything you do. But there are some things in this world that are done for a profit and by not insisting on a share, all you’re doing is charity work for Disney. Or Time-Warner. Or some other financial force of nature.

Scott is right. Those of us who were privileged to work with guys like Bill and Joe and Bob and Tex and men like Jack Kirby… we have an obligation to share what we heard and observed. That’s one reason I have this blog and do other things like articles and convention panels, gratis. But I have to remember not to be so quick to do it for free for people who are going to turn around and sell it… because that’s not a commitment to history. That’s a commitment to being a chump.

Similar Posts: What a Digital Comic Retailer Should Be § Disney/Marvel Acquisition Webcast Notes § Boom! Sellout Streak Continues § Movie Business Decides to Protect Profits by Inconveniencing Customers Further § Marvel Announces Plans for Four Series on Netflix

7 Responses  
Charles Knight writes:  

This is not new, Harlan Ellison describes this very process when working with Warner bros years ago:

 
Mentor's Camper writes:  

I cant see studios not paying actors for their participation in dvd commentary. Kind of surprising that field experts or historians or what have you wouldn’t also be paid. I just assumed that it was all covered under marketing costs for the film.

 
Thad writes:  

I recently read Hear the Roar by David Crichton, a book about the history of Thundercats.

I was already pretty nonplussed by the slapdash Thundercats DVD’s, and Crichton’s book made me even more unhappy about it — as it turns out, Lynne Lypton (Cheetara) has in her possession several video recordings of their studio sessions, including the recording of the last episode.

Never mind the crummy transfer, the out-of-sequence ordering of Lion-O’s Anointment, the use of the trimmed-down TV version of Exodus, and even the complete absence of background music on The Unholy Alliance — the biggest oversight on the Thundercats DVD’s is that nobody included any of that footage as a special feature.

 
Ralf Haring writes:  

Lavish special edition DVDs are a joy (some that spring to mind are Lord of the Rings, the Alien movies, Blade Runner, Hot Fuzz), but I think the days of high quality special features have passed. It was a novelty to have such things during the time when DVDs were replacing VHS. I think many people bought them with the intention of watching them, but never actually getting around to it.

For my part, I have no interest in bare-bones DVDs or cookie-cutter special features, even of movies that I thought were superb. There are quite a few movies from the DVD heyday of the past decade where I am patiently awaiting a “good” release.

 
DVD & Blu-ray Bonus — Going, going…gone? writes:  

[...] cinephiles at http://www.dvdsworthwatching.com see it the same way: More and more, I don’t buy DVDs unless they provide substantial bonuses. …I want studios to …bstantial knowledge. The studio doesn’t sell as many discs as they could [...]

 
Do Consumers Still Value Bonus on DVD & Blu-ray? writes:  

[…] cinephiles at http://www.dvdsworthwatching.com see it the same way: More and more, I don’t buy DVDs unless they provide substantial bonuses. …I want studios to …bstantial knowledge. The studio doesn’t sell as many discs as they could […]

 
Distributors: Skip ‘bonus’ at your peril! writes:  

[…] cinephiles at http://www.dvdsworthwatching.com see it the same way: More and more, I don’t buy DVDs unless they provide substantial bonuses. …I want studios to …bstantial knowledge. The studio doesn’t sell as many discs as they could […]

 
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