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Backed Into a Corner

15 Oct, 2009 By: John Latchem

In speaking with a well-known DVD producer the other night, I was told that the age of the DVD extra is all but over. The shame of it is that formats such as DVD and Blu-ray Disc are ideal for bonus content, which really provides added value to a movie on disc.

Wanting to cut back on producing the extras is understandable in many ways, as cash-strapped studios are hoping to improve their bottom line by cutting what they don’t see as essential expenditures. And sometimes, producing DVD extras such as behind-the-scenes documentaries and retrospectives costs a lot of money. If they don’t think the added value will translate to sales, they won’t bother. Or they don’t want to risk spending the money only to see it wasted on a rental title.

For many fans, I think, extras may be the difference between buying the movie or waiting for it on cable VOD. But instead of trumpeting the primary benefit of disc — the extra room to include good bonus material — studios seem to be bypassing this key selling point in favor of cost-cutting measures that I think ultimately might devalue their product in the long run. And this is after spending millions to get the Blu-ray format off the ground.

Without the bonus content, the studios might as well just release the movies online or through VOD. And that just opens the door for more piracy.

Then again, a lot of people I talk to don’t care about the extras. This underscores the fact that, ultimately, the primary selling point of any disc is the movie or show itself. If people don’t want to make that investment because the quality of the films isn’t as good, maybe studios need to start looking there.

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