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Extras That Could Stand on Their Own

15 Sep, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf

Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research, said something that intrigued me at the recent Entertainment Media Expo in Hollywood.

“When is extra content going to become content?” he queried during a panel discussion.

The topic came up in relation to TV DVD programming, specifically reality programming, which tends to struggle at retail, especially closed-ended series like “Survivor” and other competitive reality shows.

Henry McGee, president of HBO Home Video, applauded Universal Studios Home Video's package of extras on The Apprentice Season One as one way to combat the reality-TV sales apathy and pique renewed consumer interest in the program on DVD.

Certainly, at some point, given the content is good enough, DVD added content could stand on its own as, well, DVD content. “The Lord of The Rings” extended edition documentaries come to mind — they are among the finest in the genre, regardless of how they are released.

The documentary on the Hedwig and the Angry Inch DVD is one of my favorite all-time extras. The featurettes on the Cast Away DVD fall into that category, too; the documentary following the film's screenwriter basically living out the lonely survivalist events of the Tom Hanks' character in the movie is definitely its own tale.

And, having been among the lucky few to get an extra-early peek at Kevin Burns' two-and-a-half-hour documentary “Empire of Dreams,” included on the “Star Wars” trilogy set, I recently added another to the list.

LucasFilm/Fox released an abbreviated version of this documentary to air on the A&E Network last weekend. Since then, I've talked to no less than four people who saw it and were incredibly excited about it, thinking it was a separate release they could buy somewhere. When I told them they'd see an even more in-depth version on the four-disc set coming out Sept. 21, they were even more excited.

A day may come when these types of extras are a meaty part of the DVD market. Perhaps one day, after next-generation technology takes hold, studios could repurpose some of the better added content for separate release on DVD and market it to a whole different level of consumer.

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