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OP-ED: The ‘Into Darkness’ effect



'Star Trek Into Darkness'

This week ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ finally came home to fans in the UK on blu ray and DVD having previously been released to download via iTunes. The physical release takes place shortly in the US following the same setup of an earlier release on iTunes.

While the film itself continues to impress many critics and fans – and the polar opposite with others – there has been a huge debate spanning the length and breadth of the web this week about the bonus content shipping with the film.

I have received my steel book edition which is an Amazon exclusive in the UK which contains the following bonus features:
– Creating the Red Planet
– Attack on Starfleet
– The Klingon Home World
– The Enemy of My Enemy
– Ship to Ship
– Brawl by the Bay

If I had gone to Sainburys I could have bought the standard case edition but with a bonus DVD featuring a further 30mins of behind-the-scenes action. If I had gone to Tesco I would have had the option of further featurettes that are not on my steel book.

Not to forget that all blu ray copies come complete with an iTunes download of the film which further includes an audio commentary and digital versions of some of the featurettes held on the disc.

Why all the controversy I hear you ask? It has become abundantly clear that there is perhaps 2-3 hours of bonus features for the film available across the various different store exclusives and versions across the world. There are still unconfirmed reports of deleted scenes currently only listed on an Australia release.

This aside there is also a debate raging about the aspect ratio of the film. Many of you will have seen the film in IMAX knowing that some scenes were filmed in native IMAX ratio. Much like The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises releases fans expected a transfer of the film with an alternating aspect ratio to allow for this footage… as yet no release is carrying this version of the film. The iTunes commentary features the IMAX footage but only if you wish to deal with the commentary that is tied to it.

Let’s move on from Trek for as this is not a review of that blu ray itself, that’s to follow.

The debate that rages is as to whether studio themselves – in this case Paramount Pictures – have split all these bonus features out over so many versions in order to make the biggest amount of money possible knowing that fans will shell out for double and triple dips for the sake of all the content or whether the retailers themselves have paid out the cash in order to bag themselves exclusives to boost their own individual sales.

Retailers have the right, especially in the current financial climate, to do everything they can to boost sales so unless the times comes that physical media becomes outdated I think we’ll see this practice continue and escalate. Is it fair? Perhaps not.

Of course you could ask the question of who cares? Actually in this kind of situation the only people who are really going to be affected by this situation are the die hard fans. But then that’s always the case isn’t it? The fans that find themselves in the situation of needing to double dip are always the sci-fi, fantasy and comic book fans.

When did ‘Bridget Jones’ fans find themselves having to dip in to their pockets a second time to own more features or a relic from the films plot? Never.

Science fiction lends itself to this kinds of release because there is so much to tell about the making of these kinds of movies. Your straight up drama can get by with a few interviews and behind the scenes clips as the fans base are not often so interesting the all the goings on behind the camera but us genre fans love to see the art direction, set design etc… that goes in to making our favourite summer tentpole movies.

Many would argue that this kind of marketing leads only to further piracy with many believing the that host of extras for ‘Into Darkness’ will soon surface online in one neat downloadable package.

I believe the biggest problem is that allow the fans of this kind of genre will be incredibly vocal on the subject of their dissatisfaction they will sill spend the extra cash required to get hold of all the material they want to see. I’m happy with having the film and a few glimpses of the behind-the-scenes stuff. Yes I would love to see it all but on my kind of budget that’s just not possible. I’ll take what the studio will give me.

What does annoy me? It annoys me when in three months time Paramount announce a special collectors edition which brings all these features together but will that happen? We’ll see.

I would love to hear your opinions on this. Sound off in the comments!

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