A Double-Dipping Rant – By The Rogues

This month’s Rogues Rant deals with a well known phenomena
known generally as "double-dipping." This is when a company releases a
film on a plain vanilla DVD, and then months later suddenly comes out
with a "Special Edition" with all sorts of great extra features after
everyone has already bought the original stripped down release.

Brian Morton: This
is exactly the reason I don’t buy as many DVD’s as I probably would. I
know the second I buy any movie, that in a month or two there’ll follow
the super-special-extended-unrated-bonus edition, and it drives me
insane! For example, I’d love to own a copy of the movie Office Space,
but the only version available right now is the movie only. Now I know
that the second I head out to buy it, they’ll announce the special
edition with tons of extras that I’ll want too, so I’ll now own two
copies. Then, sometime next year, there’s be the uncut-director’s
edition with stuff not on either of the first two, so now I’ll own
three copies of the same movie! How many times do they think I’m dumb
enough to buy the same thing over and over? And I know I’m getting
extra features that I didn’t have before, but the movie is still the
same! This would be like me releasing a novel and then in a year,
releasing it again and adding an extra chapter at the end, then another
year later, I’ll re-release it with my notes attached so people can see
what I was thinking when I wrote it and then a final release where I
don’t use an editor, I’ll just release it as I originally wrote it,
grammar errors and all! It’s just ridiculous to think that eventually
I’ll have a room where I can claim to own over ten million DVDs, and
when asked to be specific, I’ll only actually own twelve movies!

Duane Martin:
There are countless examples of this. Some of the most notable are the
Lord of the Rings films where the theatrical version came out, and then
like, eight or more months later, they’d come out with a full on
extended version, which is the version we should have seen in the first
place. Pulp Fiction and The Fifth Element were both screaming for
special editions when they were released, but all we got was a plan
vanilla version of each. Now ages later, they magically pull a special
edition of each out and say, "Here, you got the original, now come
spend more money on this one!" They just recently came out with a
special edition of one of the Next Generation Star Trek movies too.
Insurrection I believe. Anyway, I’m sick of this. Basically they’re
ripping off the movie buying public, and then they have the nerve to
whine about people downloading their movies online. Well maybe if
they’d charge an affordable price for their releases and release the
special editions right off the bat, more people would buy them and not
spend all the time it takes to download them. Anyway, all this practice
does is make people hate the movie industry all that much more, and
certainly less likely to buy standard releases of films until they wait
and see if a special edition is coming along down the road.

Danny Runion: The
bottom line is movies are made to make money. VHS movies were
originally released at high prices and earned their price back through
rentals. DVD movies are rented, but the technology behind them allows
for all kind of special features to be included unlike having to fast
forward until after the VHS movie for the alternate ending. That allows
for people who want to hear commentary tracks, featurettes, and all
those other features to be included. DVDs aren’t priced for rentals but
for consumers to buy.

Many of the older DVDs at least had
widescreen and full screen versions on them if nothing else. Nowadays,
you have to particularly look to see if it is widescreen or not. In
fact, many of the bare bone movies will get special edition years later
after most people have already hunted the movie down. Does anyone
really care to hunt down the special edition of Shawshank Redemption after the barebones version has been out since DVDs were released?

Most
people aren’t going to double dip by buying extra editions. Are that
many people going to be all that fired up to replace the DVD of movie
they spent 15 or 20 bucks on for a special edition that is at 40
dollars or even just another 15 or 20 dollars? Why get the same movie
again even with different features if you can get an entirely different
movie instead? The vastly superior super-duper-extra editions are for
the hardcore fans. However, how many people have listened to all the
different commentary tracks for the deluxe versions of Lord of the Rings
trilogy? At least, the plain editions are out and shouldn’t vanish to
be replaced with altered versions like another famous trilogy.

With
the numerous ways of promoting movies with annoying pop-ups on websites
and with product placements like the extremely gratuitous I-Pod in Blade Trinity,
I may dislike the various other versions of a movie being released as a
whole. However, as consumers, we can vote with our dollars by ignoring
the extremely-super-duper-ultra-mega edition of the movie. For the most
part, I ignore the super-duper special editions. Only once, I broke
down and "double dip" by getting the special edition after getting the
standard version earlier. As a whole, I just can’t see really see how
whatever they could release later would make me want to spend more
money on the same movie.

What bothers me is getting a movie
that has special features and it being released again with different
special features like alternate endings and that version is better and
cheaper than the one I bought. In fact, a lot of people will stall off
on getting newly released DVDs if they know the director’s cut will be
coming out in a couple more months. The special editions normally are
the R or unrated versions to atone for being originally released in
theaters as PG-13. How many different cuts are easily available on DVD
for Daredevil, Chronicles of Riddick, and Aliens VS Predator?

Jonathon Pernisek: When it was revealed Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill
volumes would be released on DVD without any extras to speak of so
Special Editions could be released sometime in the future, fans were
decidedly livid. I’m quite surprised a studio would be so honest in its
double-dipping nature, outwardly admitting they were going to put out
bare-bones editions to make more money. Oh sure, they claim the
separate releases are meant to serve both the casual and hardcore fan
bases of Tarantino, but unless you’re a regular Internet surveyor you
would not be aware of these plans and thus would find yourself cheated
whenever the beefier edition appeared in stores.

Now personally,
I’m not as bothered by the double dip practices of studios as other
movie collectors because I usually give DVD extras little notice. As
long as the movie features a commentary, then it can be assumed my
needs are handled. However, for the rest of the film community these
extras are very entertaining, so their frustration is highly
understandable. No one wants to feel as if they made a mistake in a DVD
purchase, and by double-dipping the studios have basically tricked
their customers into buying the lesser product. Luckily many DVD
aficionados have become fully aware of their underhanded practices,
opting not to buy certain movies with the assumption that a better
version will come along within a few months.

There is a tendency
with some studios to not only double-dip but triple and even
quadruple-dip, and this is the habit I cannot stand. Spider-Man
alone has been released four times, starting with the traditional DVDs
and concluding with a Limited Edition Collector’s Gift Set, 3-Disc
Deluxe, and a Superbit Collection disc. Men in Black has been cloned four times, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day
has both an Ultimate and Extreme version (the latter rendering the
former completely redundant), proving just how far marketing is willing
to go in order to obtain another buck.

Studios are also getting
more creative with their double-dips, giving them clever titles to make
them seem more exciting than the boring versions you might have at
home. The Fast and the Furious: Widescreen Tricked Out Edition, American Psycho: Uncut Killer Collector’s Edition, The Transporter: Special Delivery Edition, and Catwoman: Nine Lives Special 9-Disc Edition
are just a few examples of this silly trend. Oh, and just for the
record, if they ever do come out with a nine-disc version of the Halle
Berry train wreck, I would so put up the change.

Double-dips are
sadly not going to go away any time soon, so I highly suggest people
just save their money and wait these studio heads out. If you look at
the list of special features on a DVD and are just not satisfied, do
some research, see if a better version is coming, and be patient. But
if you’re like me and have only a passing interest in the extras, you
might be just as better off buying the film upon its initial release.
It’s your money, so be educated and think about where it goes.

Jordan Garren:
"Dear lord, do I have to buy that movie again?!" That’s the question I
and other DVD collector’s ask on a monthly basis because certain
companies release two or more different
collector’s/ultimate/X-treme/Limited/special editions of the same film.
I’ve fallen into this trap so many times and find myself upgrading to a
new DVD edition of some of my favorite movies, simply because of a new
digital transfer or new extras, etc. Personally I think it’s a terrible
idea to continue to "double-dip" DVD releases because it’s creating a
lot of apathy in a once thriving market. If you’re going to go all out
for a movie on DVD and give it the royal treatment, then make the
consumer wait for the product they deserve and will ultimately
purchase. Don’t rush out a bare bones DVD and then release a two or
three-disc set a month later: It’s absolutely annoying!

Now no
one likes double-dipping as far as I know (if you do, you’re either a
millionaire or a madman!), and not all consumers are aware of this evil
plot to steal their money. Therefore, I’ve decided to blatantly accuse
certain DVD companies of this heinous crime against DVD lovers
everywhere. The main offender (in my opinion) is Anchor Bay: I really
hate to say anything about a company that’s done so much for the cult
movie crowd over the last decade or so, but you guys really have to
stop releasing the same movies over and over again. (Additionally, I
hope this doesn’t hurt future relations between myself and anyone
employed by Anchor Bay.) Here’s a tally of their more popular "dipper"
DVD titles: George A. Romero’s, "Dawn of the Dead," (At least three DVD editions of this title have been released by Anchor Bay.) "Evil Dead" (yet again, three editions), "Evil Dead II" (a whopping four seperate editions), and most notoriously of all, "Army of Darkness." (Five, count ’em, five
editions in the digital format!). Also guilty (but on a much lesser
degree) is MGM, who is now owned by the evil Sony corporation.

MGM
has had the largest selection of catalog (i.e. old) titles in the
country (and quite possibly the world) and has double-dipped on several
titles ("The Howling," "Escape From New York," and the "Rocky" films,
just to name a few.). The difference here is that MGM has cleaned up
the audio and video transfers, given us a lot of extras, and kept the
films at an affordable price, so it doesn’t hurt as much when you
double-dip from them. Lastly, I’m going to attack Sony (again) because
their Columbia/Tri-Star branch (now dubbed as Sony Pictures) has been
starting to double-dip as well. While strolling through Wal-Mart a week
ago, I saw new editions of several DVDs I had already purchased years
ago, including an all new "Extended Cut" of "Tears of the Sun" with
nearly twenty-minutes of new footage! So an additional twenty minutes
of human genocide can now be yours for the low price of $19.84 plus
tax!) I could go on and on all day double-dipped DVDs (and I could go
on and on even longer about my ill will toward the Sony Corporation),
but I think I’ll end the rant here.

The only way
"double-dipping" will stop is if we, the mighty consumers, stop eating
up the new editions of the movies we already own. It’ll never happen of
course, but it’s nice to pretend that we the people have the power to
halt greedy executives from taking advantage of us. Unfortunately, when
something old is put in a new and shiny box, we rush out and buy it
anyway, even if we know we’re getting shafted. Just another day in the
life of the American consumer I guess. Ok, that’s really the end of
this rant, I better stop before I get into trouble. (Are you curious
about my seemingly complete and utter hatred of the
multimedia/technology giant that is Sony? Well you’re going to stay
curious until a Rogue Rant about "company’s we hate" is published; then
I’ll fully come clean. Until then, stop buying the same movie twice! Especially from Sony and its subsidiaries! DIE SONY DIE!!!!!!)

Mark Hite:
The repulsive trend known as “double dipping” in the DVD industry is a
complete travesty for consumers everywhere. A movie is a movie no
matter how much you polish it up and add fancy things to it. The movie
industry is just taking advantage of people suckered in who will
actually pay for this garbage.

To begin, deleted scenes were
deleted for a reason. That reason is they usually have no place in the
movie period. I have yet to see any deleted clip that wowed me into
thinking a movie is any less without it. Adding more of these little
snippets is a fine way to make viewers think they are missing
something. This way they can add in the tag line “like you’ve never
seen it before”.

Secondly, putting in new commentary from the
cast and crew doesn’t make things more interesting either. Sure its
cool to hear from the director what was going on in the shot but now
its actors, music composers, etc. I am surprised they don’t add in the
guy who cleaned the toilets on the set and his thoughts of the scenes.

Thirdly,
adding some kind of trinket into a special edition box set isn’t going
to make me whip out my wallet any time soon. What honestly am I going
to do with a mini version of Minas Tirith or a pewter statue of
Spiderman? Its just more stuff to add to my shelf of items that
currently is collecting dust. This current marketing strategy of DVDs
is no different than the marketing of CDs. It is amazing how many times
one can release the White Album or Houses Of The Holy with new "hi-fi
audio". Stop the madness; Stairway To Heaven is Stairway To Heaven no
matter how you cut it. As for movies Darth Vader will always be Luke’s
father, Frodo will always end up destroying the one ring, and Ah-nold
will always end up killing everything around him. Don’t let your
intelligence be insulted, stay away from special editions. Putting a
dress on something doesn’t always make it look prettier.

Charles E. Pratt Jr: My main rant about studios double dipping
is that they could at least have the decency to release the "new and
improved" supplemental materials on a standalone disc so that those
that already have the barebones edition could decide if they wanted to
shell out a few more bucks to get the rest of it at a discount price.

Another practice that annoys me is when studios include the "extras"
within the movie itself and then try to market it like two minutes of
extra footage makes it a whole different movie well worth
re-buying.  That two minutes belongs in the extras bin along with
deleted scenes, commentary, and outtakes.

I’m also weary of directors going back and revisiting their earlier
works that stand as classics JUST AS THEY WERE! George Lucas really got
the ball rolling with his retouched  Special Editions and
Spielberg wasn’t far behind with Close Encounters and the pointless
retouches of ET: The Extraterrestrial.

Anymore, when a hot title comes out I think twice about buying it and I
read all of the dvd sites to see if a future release may contain the
goodies I’m craving.   If dvd titles are in a sales slump
it’s the studio’s fault for trying to feed us the same titles over and
over.