Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What happens to DVD extras if we go to downloads?

Despite my doubts about the longevity of Blu-Ray, I have been greatly enjoying the format since I upgraded on Christmas Day. (Well, except for the fact that I can't hear two of my BR's at full sound quality since my receiver doesn't support DTS, but that's another story).

One of the reasons I have been most enjoying the format is the array of extras available. Out of all the discs I have seen so far, that has never been more apparent than on Disney's Blu-Ray of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 

The non-movie disc of the set is organized as an absolutely fascinating interactive tour through Disney's Hyperion studios, where most of its work through the 1930s was made. This includes several of the revolutionary shorts made there, such as Flowers and Trees (the first Technicolor cartoon), Steamboat Willie (the first sound cartoon, and the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be released), The Old Mill (the first to make use of the multiplane camera) and one of my all-time favorite cartoons, The Skeleton Dance.  Even though that  was made 81 years ago, its ingenutiy still blows me away.

Such is the storage capacity of Blu-Ray that each and every one of these shorts (and more) is on the disc at full length. And that got me to wondering ....

I have doubted Blu-Ray would last very long as a format because sooner or later, we would be watching movies at home not through physical media, but through downloading or streaming. Witness Netflix's increasing emphasis on its Instant Viewing feature.

And yet, if that does indeed happen, what happens to Blu-Ray/DVD extras as we have come to know and love them? What about deleted scenes? What about making-of documentaries that, all told, are sometimes longer than the movies themselves? What about audio commentaries? Where is the place for them in the download world? How would downloads handle the kind of extras we have now? Could they? It would have to be a pretty complex system to include everything that's on Snow White. And I want ALL that stuff.

What worries me is that those extras would diminish, since most people buy discs to watch the movie and not the extras. Still, even the most lowbrow movies have them. Sony spent money to put a commentary on Paul Blart: Mall Cop, for pity's sake, so demand for extras must be out there somewhere.

That supposed, what happens to extras when downloading/streaming becomes the dominant movie delivery format? What do you think?


HollyGoKimsy said...

I don't think that streaming will replace the production of DVDs. I think that people still want to buy them, if for no other reason than people like collecting things, and people have been collecting copies of films forever.

That being said, the extras go nowhere. But most people don't buy the DVDs for the extras - most don't even CARE about the extras or watch them. Honestly, I don't watch them on 90% of the DVDs I own. I may in rare instances watch a commentary track but that's it. So, there's plenty of room for coexistence.

And please don't get me started on Disney extras...I think it's overkill. I also think it's ridiculous to only have certain "Platinum titles" that are available for a limited time only and then retired.

Tim said...

Holly: Disney's insistence on retiring films to the mythical "Disney Vault" is done purely to increase sales/demand for the films. This is nothing new; they've been doing it since the days of VHS tape. Fun trivia: the only Disney film to never be so retired is "Mary Poppins"; it's been available in one form or another ever since it was released.

SirCritic, I agree with you (which should not be particularly surprising, as I usually do). Whenever I have a choice when purchasing DVDs, I'll *always* choose the "Deluxe-2-Disk" edition over the one-disk bare-bones release. Extras are important to me, and I have absolutely no problem letting studios know this with my wallet.

There's also been a lot of talk from different people (Harlan Ellison springs immediately to mind) regarding whether those involved in the creative process of filmmaking should be paid for their participation in creating this "promotional" content.