On the excellent movie site ‘The Dissolve’ I was recently reading an article that observed that the advent of multiple ‘special edition’ Blu-Ray versions of blockbuster films doesn’t have the impact of fans of the film buying all the versions; instead it has the opposite effect of making people wait to purchase until the inevitable ‘ultimate edition’ comes out with all the features on the previous editions.
But for mine a more interesting issue came up while reading the comments section of the article – namely, that special features on DVD/Blu-Rays in any format have largely become an irrelevance to me.
I found this realisation surprising because when I first started buying DVD’s a decade ago, the most exciting aspect about them were the special features you couldn’t get on VHS – especially director/cast commentaries.
Initially I had a preference for DVD’s with such special features as a ‘bare-bones’ DVD would seem like a waste of money. But now I realise that such special features aren’t that important to me anymore in such a purchase. Why is this?
I think one reason is that – especially with the fact that TV series became arguably more important to DVDs than movies – that content was king. If you could all 150 episodes of a favourite TV series in a box set for a reasonable price (something not possible with VHS), that was enough. If it didn’t have any featurettes on the series or cast commentaries, that was only a minor disappointment as the content of the shows itself is what mattered.
Another factor is the gradual decline in price of DVDs & Blu-Rays (in Australia at least) which means the majority of consumers are much more accepting of buying a ‘bare bones’ DVD for $10 instead of the $25-30 dollars it might’ve been 5 years ago.
Also there’s the time factor. Especially with the proliferation of complete TV series available for purchase, after watching 60 hours of a TV series are you going to bother rewatching 6 hours of what you just watched just to listen to a cast commentary? Put simply, there really isn’t the time to utilise such special features properly.
Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy cast/director commentaries on occasion and it can be interesting seeing deleted scenes of a movie. But – something I wouldn’t have believed 5-10 years ago – I don’t think such features are that big a deal anymore.