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This is why we can’t have nice things, physical media lovers

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by Matt Singer



At The Digital Bits, editor Bill Hunt writes about an alarming innovation in the world of Blu-rays. The standard disc for Star Trek Into Darkness includes seven featurettes about the making of the film, but if you want the full breadth of extras that Paramount produced, you won’t find them there, or in any one place. Instead, they’ve spread around the supplements, including a J.J. Abrams commentary track, to numerous retailer exclusive editions. Target got a few on a bonus disc, Best Buy got a couple others, and iTunes got the exclusive on the Abrams commentary. To buy those three editions alone would set you back $70.

Hunt says Paramount’s plan is a major problem:

“Now… I’m sure this plan looked great from a studio marketing standpoint. ‘Let’s do something exciting to make our retail partners feel special.’ But how about doing something to make your customers feel special? Look, I get the occasional exclusive Bonus Disc on catalog titles. But taking fully half or more of the special features created for a major Blu-ray release and casting them to the winds as retailer exclusives, thus forcing your customers to go on an expensive scavenger hunt–if they even know about the exclusives at all–is, I’m sorry, absolutely outrageous.


Spreading incentives around to different retailers is already widespread in the world of videogames (where pre-orders sales are boosted through the use of exclusive character skins and bonus missions), and it’s been used occasionally in the past for movies as well; a few years ago, I spent a couple of weeks visiting every Best Buy in my area searching for a copy of their exclusive “Rich Mahogany Edition” of Anchorman, which included a second disc, a pack of trading cards, and a Ron Burgundy journal you couldn’t get anywhere else at the time. The practice of producing multiple editions of movies for DVD or Blu-ray isn’t new; forcing customers to “double dip” by releasing a bare-bones disc first and a supplements -aden “special edition” later has been the norm for years.

We should never forget that DVDs and Blu-rays, like all aspects of the movie business, are just that: a business. After years of extreme profitability, the physical media market has shrunk. The money lost by customers fleeing to streaming media, online rentals, and video on demand has to be recouped somewhere. Theoretically, that’s fine.

What makes this Star Trek Into Darkness example so bad is that it combines all the studio’s worst money-making schemes into a perfect storm of consumer exploitation; multiple retailer exclusives and double (or triple or quadruple) dipping, all on expensive discs with suggested retail prices of $20 or more. Plus they did it for a Star Trek movie, a product aimed at a fanbase so insanely devoted they’re likely to actually shell out for multiple versions of the movie just to own them all.

Decisions like this one may boost sales in the short term, but they will almost certainly hasten the long-term abandonment of physical media in favor of cloud-based services. If the crew of the Enterprise think they’re trekking into darkness now, just imagine how bleak things will get when customers get so sick of these sorts of treasure hunts that they stop buying Blu-rays completely.

Source

This is pretty ridic.

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