Monday, January 2, 2012

No Frills

I am one of those people who does watch the DVD extras in addition to the movie. Sometimes, I'll watch them immediately after the movie, and sometimes I like to wait a day or two. When I finally tracked down a copy of The Set-Up (1949), I watched the movie twice in a row - the second time with the commentary by the director Robert Wise and Martin Scorsese, but that's only something I do rarely. I also don't watch all of the extras all of the time. It kind of depends on the movie or who is in it.
In an Eddie Murphy film, I'm looking for blooper outtakes and a possible glimpse of some acknowledgement that his career has gone off the tracks.
In a Quentin Tarantino movie, I'm looking for the man himself to talk at length about his original concept for the film . . . or about cottage cheese . . . I don't really care . . . that guy is nuts.
In a Reese Witherspoon movie, I'm looking for a deleted swimsuit or negligee-pillow-fight-scene.
In a George Clooney movie, I'm looking for bloopers and, well, deleted negligee-pillow-fight-scene.
Anyway . . .
I'm sure that many of you have noticed that many rental DVDs now come with only the movie and no extras whatsoever. This is an attempt by the movie studios to get consumers to buy the version that will have the bloopers, featurettes, deleted scenes, music video montage scenes, and in-depth interviews with the caterers.
Okay, I guess that makes sense. Why wouldn't I pay $20 for the full version DVD of X-Men: First Class after renting it for $1 from Redbox.
Oh, right: because it's $20. And I've already seen it. And now I'm pissed because I'm sure there's a clip of James MacAvoy forgetting his line and saying, "Oh, bollocks! Guess I'm not all that bloody psychic after all!" and Fox is too stingy to let me see it for the cost of the rental.
I played Magneto in a movie and all I got was this stupid -
hey, where's my shirt?
I'm sure it's hilarious, and I'll bet it has Michael Fassbender cracking up and giggling like Anderson Cooper, and I'm missing it! Well, I'll just have to fork over the $20 and add X-Men: First Class to my home collection. I'm sure I'll watch it plenty of times to justify the additional expense. It won't be like that copy of Spider-Man 3 that's still inside the wrapper inside its cardboard jacket. (A dance number, Sam Raimi? Really? How do you explain that? Oh, probably in the extras I haven't watched.)
The thing is: what if the blooper reel is lame? What if it's five minutes of Oliver Platt getting tongue-tied saying "Sebastian Shaw." (Okay, bad example, because that would be awesome, but you get the idea.) What if the only featurette on Jennifer Lawrence's make-up process for Mystique is of a bunch of talking heads describing the application procedure. (I don't think that a little sideboob is too much to ask for $20. Fine, it can be Kevin Bacon's. I'm really not picky.) You see, if I won't gamble on spending $20 for the movie without having seen it, why think that I will gamble on the extras?
If I decide that I want to have a copy of that movie on my shelf, it will be because I liked it enough that I will watch it multiple times, not because the extras might be worthwhile. Yes, good extras could be a factor in my making a purchase, but they'd have to be really good. We're talking sideboob, giggling Fassbender, and somebody has to hit Hugh Jackman in the nuts. Here's my credit card, but, oh wait -
I don't know that those things are in the extras, do I?
Here's the thing I don't get, Hollywood:
DVDs with extras have been available for rental for quite a while now. You could rent DVDs at the supermarket, at Blockbuster stores and all of their now out-of-business chain competitors, and at little mom-and-pop or artsy rental stores. Blockbuster shut most of them down, and now Netflix, Redbox, and on-demand pay-per-view have shut most of the Blockbuster stores down, but those of us who were renting before are still renting now. If we're buying fewer DVDs now, do you really think it's because we already got to watch the extras with our rental?
Yes, DVD sales are down, but Blu-Ray sales are up - big time. Of course, there's probably no connection there.

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