DVD Success 101 ^ There is an alternative to this and it is not a pretty one. In my recent 2001 DVD Year In Review I came down particularly hard on “The Mummy Returns,” a lackluster Universal release that featured nothing but Electronic Press Kits and their subsidiaries (i.e., interviews and behind the scenes footage that wasn’t included in the “official” EPK). Besides the commentary, the disc is one big commercial for itself and “The Scorpion King”. Does this mean DVD may turn into yet another corporate outlet for constant promotion and sponsorship? If a Gap ad turns up on a disc in 2002, I will be the only one not surprised.
It’s a clear fact that a film lives on video. After a theatrical run, where else are you going to see these movies? Unless you live in a large metropolitan era prone to film festivals, the best outlet to see a movie will be on VHS or DVD. This means that a DVD should be not only a digital facsimile of the film, but somewhat of a historical document as well. Producers such as The Criterion Collection and Anchor Bay are perfect examples of companies treating films with the respect and recognition they deserve. Their supplements aren’t commercially based, and if promotional items are included they are there for historical reasons only. This new system, these new rules, regulations, and fees, they take films and try to monopolize on them. Commercialize the history of a film for a few lousy bucks.
This is a clear warning that if the trend continues, writers, directors, and actors will get more and more tight-lipped and money-grubbing. Studios might stop bothering with Special Editions at all. It’ll be VHS all over again with rental pricing and substandard features. The studios who do take the time to produce solid discs will force Special Edition DVDs back into the laserdisc price range, anywhere from $70-$200.
It’s scary to think that such lackluster DVDs such as “The Mummy Returns” or “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” will soon be the norm. Studios are waking up to the fact that most consumers are blinded by the term “Special Edition” and will buy anything touted as such. “The Grinch” lacked a commentary and featured very few supplements but became a huge best seller. The Criterion Collection’s version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” on the other hand, is a fantastic release but since it doesn’t have the advertising budget, or public interest in such an “old” film, it won’t get a percentage of the sales “The Grinch” enjoyed.
It’s a simple formula. The films that get the biggest promotion will find their way to sales. This is what the executives like, and want, to hear. Call it a “Special Edition,” slap a few EPK-like supplements on there, cross-promote with your next summer blockbuster of course, and you have yourselves a best seller. Call it DVD Success 101.
Get the rest of the story in the next part of THE DEATH OF THE SPECIAL EDITION DVD>>>