The age of the aficionado
I held out on buying a DVD player for the first five years of its existence. After all those years of investing in VHS, it was really annoying having to replace all that material. Like a fool, I thought, “how could it be that much better?”
Five years ago, I finally caved in and got one. My bank account hasn’t been the same since. I didn’t just replace those favorites I had on video, I went all out. Like so many people I’ve seen, I became obsessed with cultivating the ultimate DVD collection. I had to possess key examples of every era, of every genre. I wanted to people to come into my apartment, spot it and say, “wow, that guy knows movies!”
My intentions weren’t purely egotistical though, I swear. What really got me with DVDs was the presentation. I’d always appreciated it when videos would have extra content. When I sunk my teeth into my first special edition DVD, I was in heaven. It’s these bonus features that made me look at DVDs not just in terms of the main film but as more of an encyclopedia on the subject. In this sense, I truly felt like I was building a library.
Initially, I thought that special editions wouldn’t really catch on. Maybe the film buffs would buy into it but surely the average consumer would prefer the simple bare bones release due to price. Was I wrong. Over the years, it seems like the no-extras, single disc DVD is becoming more and more obsolete. Cashing in on the obsessions of other library builders like myself, studios are putting more and more money into providing ultimate DVD packages. At least in terms of home entertainment, I think we can be very happy with this trend because DVD releases are being catered to a more sophisticated audience.
Just the fact that certain films are being released is evidence enough that something positive is occurring. Back in say 2000, the chances of more than just the most popular Golden Age films were pretty slim. Check out the shelves at your local retailer nowadays and the effort of Warner Brothers on their boxed sets alone is enough to give you hope that even your most obscure favorite will one day see the light.
So, has the audience changed, the studios changed, or a few special editions sold a lot of copies and studios decided the higher-priced releases would yield more cash? With multiple releases and the ever-growing technology, the studios are certainly learning that they can charge you even more to be a true completist. If the average film fan has changed though, will this eventually affect releases in theaters as well?
(Thanks to C.P.Storm for providing the photo.)
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