logan j. fowler explains why Hollywood studios need to give movie renters a break …
When I buy a DVD, I obviously purchase it for the adoration of the film itself. However, the special features always make me curious, because as a movie lover, I want to know what makes the film tick. The behind the scenes looks, the commentaries, the storyboards, deleted scenes, bloopers, and the like all increase the value of the DVD.
So imagine you want to rent a film, really enjoy it, and want to see how it all came together. Well, hit the pause button. Very recently, it was announced that Hollywood studios are stripping rental DVDs of their features, as they believe it will prohibit said renter from “buying the DVD.”
Well, I call baloney. First of all, those who KNOW they are going to buy the DVD will, including the sections of top box-office grossing, financially supporting, or gift-buying variety. You know your kid loved Toy Story 3? No matter the special features, it will be purchased. Your friend loved Cyrus? Well, what a great Christmas gift! Examples aside, Hollywood places too much emphasis on restricting DVD properties from the renters, who really is their main outlet for buying MORE DVDs.
What I mean is, the people who KNOW they are going to buy the DVDs are default buyers, where as the once who are on the fence need further persuasion to buy a DVD. When they are done with the film, where is the next place to go? The special features, of course. If you do not provide this to the viewer, how can they really know if they are getting their money’s worth if they buy the DVD? Wouldn’t “trying it out” be more of a cause for them to shell out the money in the future?
Think of major “borrowing” systems we have. Gamefly.com offers a video game rental service, and you can play the WHOLE game. It’s not an extended demo. Are video game companies worried their game won’t get bought? In the economy today, forms of entertainment are expensive for some people. Being able to try it out might make them feel more comfortable, and if they really enjoy it, it will be a future purchase. Video games cost more than a DVD (it’s an increase of 30 to 40 dollars in most cases), but if there is no red light on playing a whole game for a monthly fee, there is no reason why Hollywood shouldn’t offer the same courtesy on DVD’s special features.
Another example is the library. Yes, you may ask, who reads books with paper in them anymore? With all the kindles and books on tape/CD/iPods, paperback and hardbound books may be going the way of the dinosaur. However, how can you beat borrowing a book for FREE? And reading it from cover to cover, if the frame of time allowed for borrowing allows you to finish it. Are book companies calling foul and only offering brief chapters and partial segments for the customer to read? No. You can read the whole thing. For FREE.
Netflix, the company who mails DVDs to your dwelling and allows all the online streaming you want in your plan, is facing severe customer complaint if they don’t fight this policy of no special features. The DVD is not a VHS tape; it provides more entertainment beyond the film. If Hollywood really wants their customers to buy a movie, provide the renter with the whole package. After all, the studios are the ones who are gaining money everyday based on their product. Allow the renter to know that their hard earned money is paying for 100 percent of the product, just so they can see if it’s worth more of their hard earned money to add it to their library.
DVDs are not theater experiences. The format exists to go beyond the movie and see how it was made or how the actors voiced it or whatever. In any case, Hollywood needs to lighten up and let the renting customer experience the DVD as it was meant to be viewed. No restrictions, no holding back, no red lights.
I hope that Hollywood studios come to their senses in this situation. Their restrictions of the quantity of material on the DVD may in fact turn against them.