Extras on the decline?
Over the last few months, we've noticed a worrying trend that appears to started to accelerate. It all started with Fox slowly replacing their two-disc special editions with cut down single disc releases - now, this is all well and good and was well publicised at the time and made the discs more appealling to the average punter who just wanted good presentation of the film without all the usual extra baggage that accompanies it.
However, of late we've become aware of MGM and their similar replacement of two-disc releases with cut down versions in the US. Of course this often makes little difference to UK customers anyway as MGM titles are frequently missing extras that were present on their Region 1 counterparts. The big problem is the way in which it appears MGM have gone about this - there's been no big publicity, and instead these titles have appeared on the quiet and, more worryingly, without fail these new releases feature the same SKU identifiers as the previous packed two-disc sets. Therefore, most on-line retailers haven't picked up that the discs have changed and people are beginning to receive films, such as the Stargate Special Edition, that aren't what were advertised. This isn't good news and is likely to cause retailers and consumers no end of trouble over the coming months as both try to work out which discs have been replaced, and also where to get hold of the special editions if they are still available.
In the UK, it's even more apparent that extras and disc specifications for a number of back-catalogue MGM releases are taking a back-seat to getting the films out onto the shelves. The most recent and obvious example is the upcoming releases of a number of Bergman titles including Passion of Anna and Hour of the Wolf. Neither of the Region 2/4 releases feature any extra features while the Region 1 edition of Passion of Anna includes an original story reading, commentary, featurette, interviews, photo gallery and a trailer and Hour of the Wolf includes a commentary, featurette, interviews, photo galleries and a trailer.
It unfortunately becoming common for most Region 2/4 MGM back catalogue titles to be supplied without any of the additional content present on the Region 1.