Fox to strip special features from rental DVDs

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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will now start selling two versions of its regular DVDS, one with all the standard special features we’ve come to expect, and one with just the movie and trailers to be sold to rental shops like Blockbuster. Variety explains:

The configurations vary by title. “Marley & Me,” for example, has special features on both the retail and rental DVDs. The “Marley” Blu-ray also carries bonus features, but the retail Blu-ray is a combo pack with a DVD movie and digital copy.

I hope this does not affect Netflix. I often rent a movie from them just to watch the special features.

Photo: Chris Gold NY

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28 Responses to Fox to strip special features from rental DVDs

  1. JoeKickass says:

    Congratulations FOX, now even fewer people will rent from Blockbuster and whoever else you foist these “low feature” DVDs on.

    This is why people steal your shit.

  2. Baldhead says:

    Yeah, a download is just the film, no extras. people are more likely to buy or rent because of the extras (I know many of the films I bought are because of the extras).

    Basically, it seems that once again the studios just do not understand their customers at all.

  3. Agies says:

    @13 You don’t want “superfluous crap” yet you bought the extended version. There’s a little irony in that.

  4. Garr says:

    Arikol, as a German, I feel slightly dissed ;)

    On a different point: I just clicked this because my RSS feed showed the words “fox” and “strip” in the same line…

  5. maxoid says:

    for the unskippable stuff, if you do dvd playback in VLC i do believe you can skip whatever you please. might be a couple other players that ignore control lockdowns from discs, too.

    and yeah, this plan sounds pretty dumb to me.

  6. Alan says:

    I dunno. I’d rather pay a little less retail for a DVD and not get the special features I never watch. Maybe I’m weird or something.

  7. Sounds like a conspiracy not unlike the social bookmarking scams. I hate extra features and loaded dvd’s with third party ads and marketing…errrr..

  8. Brainspore says:

    Nuts. This is just an extension of the ploy that the studios have already been using to pressure me into buying a blu-ray DVD player.

    Then again, I usually only bother with the special features on movies I like enough to buy.

  9. arikol says:

    The boardroom meeting may have gone like:

    CEO: Yes, now, we hate our customers and our business. What can we do to make our hated customers have almost no reason to watch our films legally? Uwe Boll, any ideas?

    Uwe: Yes, as you know I am hatink ze computer games, movies and ze people watching computer games and playink moviez, and am zinking zat we takink avay anyzink zat makes vatching movies legally better zan stealink zem. By doing zat ve can COLLAPSE ze market for moviez and finally get out of zis horrible business, while at ze zame time making ze horrible people sad who are likink movies.

    CEO: Wunderbar Uwe. Next we must contine work on the ray for sucking happiness from peoples souls. In conjunction with the RIAA, who fund this project with ill gotten gains from their granny lawsuit campaign, we have made considerable strides forwards. Even getting it functioning well enough to such the happiness from little kittens, making them grey, miserable and boring. We hope to begin human trials by the end of the year.

    All present: YAYYYYYYY

  10. lectroid says:

    Thankfully, as long as they are continuing to sell physical discs, whether blu-ray or standard dvd or magic-format-to-come-on-memory-card, companies like netflix (and even blockbuster) have the right of first use. Once you buy an object, you can pretty much do what you want with it. If I recall, Blockbuster tried to save itself from netflix by making exclusive deals with studios that they would be the only rental outlet for certain films. Unfortunately, as long as the studios sell a retail version of the movie through target or walmart or amazon, someone from netflix can order as many as copies as they want and then offer them up for rent like anything else.

    Studios could only make this work by significantly separating the timing of the release of each version. Hell, they already do this by issuing the DVD version, the ‘Collectors’ DVD edition, the Super-Deluxe-Extra-Secret-Directors-Cut-With-20-Minutes-Of-Footage-We-Editted-Out-In-The-First-Place-For-Good-Reason edition, ad nauseum.

    99% of the special features on discs aren’t worth the barest glance anyway. Does anyone REALLY want to see the blooper reel or the HBO promo piece for ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’?

  11. Agies says:

    When I get movies fron Netflix they are often the first disc of a two disc special edition and don’t have all the extras on the disc. The version of Tropic Thunder I got from them didn’t have the same features as the one a friend rented from a Redbox kiosk.

  12. bbonyx says:

    For those of you barking “I don’t care, I don’t watch extras anyway” you’re missing the point. Some of us do, some of us Netflix just to get the extras of movies we have already seen and liked.

    The issue is that Fox will no longer be giving *us a choice*. If you don’t watch them, having them on the disc will have no affect on you, but it will affect those of us that are interested in director commentary, production featurettes, etc.

    And if you think removing the extras is going to remove trailers from the beginning, lessen your rental rates or improve the quality of the film (because they could theoretically up the bit rate and use the extra free space for an improved transfer with less compression)… please. That isn’t going to happen. They’re just being greedy dicks.

  13. the boy says:

    20th Century Fox – “We actively hate you, and yet you still give us money. Can you blame us?”

  14. Halloween Jack says:

    Well, at least they didn’t throw in a rootkit while they were at it.

    …right?

  15. jdp says:

    This actually makes sense, if you think about it in terms of rental-video resales. A huge part of used video sales comes from the video store market (who else buys 50 copies of Daredevil?). Stripping the special features out devalues the resale copies, of which the studios see no part.

  16. arikol says:

    Also devalues the video rental market, making them lose business and having less reason to buy 50 copies of Daredevil.

    When 20th has gotten customers away from video rental those customers are not likely to purchase. They wanted easy access. So they go to their favourite torrent tracker.

    This is, as I explained above, called self hatred. Hating your own business so much that you look at short term gains and ignore that you may be killing your whole industry in the longterm.

  17. RikF says:

    Well, no new 20th C Fox disks on my Netflix queue then

  18. zuzu says:

    I hope this does not affect Netflix. I often rent a movie from them just to watch the special features.

    Precisely, because loss of special features makes rentals more attractive than downloading how exactly?

    Hating your own business so much that you look at short term gains and ignore that you may be killing your whole industry in the longterm.

    Aren’t the RIAA and MPAA already dead industries in the long-term?

    Maybe this is just the Vandals sacking Rome and wondering that the toilets are for.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “This is actually less annoying than the way they currently cripple rental dvds, which is to put tons of unskippable ads at the beginning, way more than retail dvds have.”

    Um, you think the unskippable ads are going to disappear?

    You’ve got a lot to learn…

  20. btb says:

    This is actually less annoying than the way they currently cripple rental dvds, which is to put tons of unskippable ads at the beginning, way more than retail dvds have.

  21. pduggie says:

    Also, some of us use netflix because you can take a long time to get around to watching the extras. When I rent from a local place, I rarely want to spend the immediate time watching the extras, but I might like to play it again with commentary a few days later.

    netflix gives me no late fees.

  22. dculberson says:

    Agies, it does sound ironic, but I sympathize and am in the exact same situation. I want to watch the whole movie, including extra story line bits, but I might watch a small selection of the special features once. Maybe. Most of the LOTR extras, excellent as they may be, are unwatched by me at least. There’s too much!

  23. bokodasu says:

    Yeah, that’s pretty dumb. I buy… basically zero DVDs a year. But I rent 2-10 per month. That’s not going to change because they’re no longer giving me the extras; it just means I’ll find the extras somewhere online. If I care. (Which I generally don’t, but you never know.)

    As for unskippable commercials – I’ve been known to plug my portable DVD player into my TV because it can magically skip them. (It also plays burned DVDs, which my “real” DVD player won’t.) For DVDs for my daughter, I used to put the DVD in the regular player, wait 10 minutes, THEN turn on the TV and let her watch. Disney has discovered this ploy and put the unskippable commercials *after* a menu choice (but before the main menu), so I’ve gone to the portable player again.

  24. Daneel says:

    I’m with Alan.

    I never watch the special features, all I want is the best quality version of the film going, so a vanilla version that has all the superfluous crap cut out at an accordingly cheaper rate to reflect that, I’m all for it.

    Case in point: LoTR – I have the extended versions of all 3 films with the DTS soundtrack, but I’ve never so much as taken the appendix discs out of the box. Just not interested. Don’t like all the stupid animated menus either, just play the goddamn film.

    Really, really hate unskippable ads though – I don’t steal DVDs but nothing makes me want to more than that “you wouldn’t steal a car” thing you get in the UK. I’ve just bought the effing DVD, don’t you dare accuse me of being a thief. Net result is I’ll just mute the TV and go off and do something else for 10 minutes. Complete waste of everyone’s time.

  25. pjk says:

    I usually find that extra footage was cut from the main film for a reason… so, meh. Taking out the DVD extras is like selling a loaf of bread without the heels.

  26. RevEng says:

    @#13: Ironically, the only people who see those “don’t steal” ads are the people who have genuine copies. Anybody with half a brain will rip out those unskippable ads when they copy it. Once again, the industry proves that it’s willing to cut off its nose to spite its face.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps it is a misplaced concern for the ‘media player digital version’ that might be bundled on the DVDs (but which still has to be ‘authorized’ to play on those iPhones iPods and whatnots.) Is that being cheated any easier than ripping DVDs might be?

    Maybe it is the rental firms concerned about the “Special Features” disc being confused and rented shipped out or returned instead of the “Main Feature”.

    But I think it is merely just a way to try to bring the product down below a ten dollar price point for sell through. The stuff aint moving at higher prices .

    That goes for Blu-Ray as well. BluRay titles need to be under 20 bucks, Standard DVD under 10.

  28. RevEng says:

    It seems to me that everyone agrees that the unskippable ads are more than just a minor annoyance. To me, it’s like a slap in the face. I paid $30 for a DVD; I shouldn’t be forced to sit through 10 minutes of advertising before I can watch it. In fact, one of the great advantages of DVDs is the ability to quickly skip sections — so they went out of their way to disable skipping!

    The choice of ads just adds fuel to the fire. I can understand them wanting to inform me of other up-and-coming movies, but cell phones and cars? This isn’t a matter of selling more of their own stuff; they are clearly getting paid to force those commercials on me. Then you toss in the “don’t steal” lectures (which I can’t skip, because I legally paid for this shit) and that’s when I’m glad programs like AnyDVD allow us to ignore the DMCA and rip out that crap.

    Foisting these undesirable “features” onto those who legally acquire their goods just gives further incentive to pirate.

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