August 16, 2002
12:01 PM   Subscribe

So what? Jeez, the media's all up in arms about the multiple editions of Fellowship of the Ring being released. Really, is there not enough in the world to legitimately gripe about? Are Rings fans really being ripped off? It's not like anyone's putting a gun to your head and forcing you to buy any of these discs. Isn't more choice better than less, even in the disposable DVD world?
posted by WolfDaddy (44 comments total)
No frustration here. I rented the standard version last weekend and put the extended DVD on my Xmas list.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:10 PM on August 16, 2002

Frankly, I'm suprised Tolkien's estate let them get away with it, as jealously as they've guarded his IP in the past.
posted by Cerebus at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2002

More incontrovertible proof that corporations are the root of all evil.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:18 PM on August 16, 2002

Really, is there not enough in the world to legitimately gripe about?

No. Haven't you got it yet? It's a slow news summer. We're all just waiting for October. Surprise!
posted by hob at 12:18 PM on August 16, 2002

it is frustrating. i'm compulsive and must own every single edition of each film i want.

i wonder if the people bitching about multiple editions would also be bitching if there was only one edition that they'd have to wait three or four addition months to get.
posted by tolkhan at 12:18 PM on August 16, 2002

There's no reason to complain about the two FotR releases. New Line announced both versions at the same time. There was more than enough info. available in advance for consumers to decide whether they want to buy the 2 disc set right away or wait for the 4 disc version.

The problem is with studios like Disney and Columbia who wait until after they've released the basic editions of their movies before announcing that they're also releasing a "special edition," hoping to get people to buy the same title twice. Columbia in particular has taken this to an absurd extreme. They have a number of titles that have been reissued 3-4 times within a 2 year period. (basic release, special edition, "superbit", & "superbit deulxe.")
posted by cnelson at 12:19 PM on August 16, 2002

I'm more than willing to wait for the Collectors DVD Gift Set myself. Actually, I have two on order - one for me and one for a friend for X-mas.
posted by RevGreg at 12:20 PM on August 16, 2002

Like Dune, I can't imagine owning the standard theatrical version. I've found that most adapted Science Fiction and Fantasy scripts benefit from more screen time, and not less. The extended version will do just fine for me, thank you very much.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:20 PM on August 16, 2002

if they hadn't actually told us about the addition coming out in november, yeah, that'd be pretty crappy.

if they come out with another even-more-expensive version next year ("Now with a vial of Frodo's sweat!"), that'd be pretty crappy.

but this? this is just good marketing.

on preview: what cnelson said.
posted by GeekAnimator at 12:21 PM on August 16, 2002

She says New Line should have simply waited to release the film on VHS and DVD until all the elements were in place.

So it was bad for consumers that there was a choice between a simple version now and a full version later? We would be better off with no choice?

But then again, I never understood why one would want to waste two hours of one's existence on Earth watching a movie a second or third time.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:38 PM on August 16, 2002

I'm not sure how much I like it. It would be fine if the two versions were released at the same time - why the additional wait? So that Rings maniacs have a good reason to buy both instead of only one - they want it right now.

Then again, unless you really need to own it right now, the easy answer is to rent the inferior version now, and buy the better one later. However, even that's more money than you'd pay were both available at the same time. There's some milking going on.

But then again, I never understood why one would want to waste two hours of one's existence on Earth watching a movie a second or third time.

Wow. Well, maybe this will make sense: you're way better off watching Vertigo ten times than watching ten different Pauly Shore movies.
posted by D at 12:40 PM on August 16, 2002

This is just fine by me. As someone on DVDtalk said... the casual fan can buy the 2-disc, the more-serious fan can wait for the 4-disc, and the uber-fan can buy both and have a 6-disc supreme set with 2 versions of the film and no duplicated supplements.

I'm waiting to buy the 4-disc. I try to only get the best possible version of the movies I buy.

ps - apparently the new Reservoir Dogs SE has a TERRIBLE transfer.
posted by El_Gray at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2002

Personally, I'm waiting for the "Super-Omnibus-Mega Edition" with all three movies, making of feature, the full text of all Tolkiens works, and an alternate version with Patrick Stewart in the role of Gandalf.
posted by Jart at 12:47 PM on August 16, 2002

I confess to being a little nervous about director's-cut revisionism. That it took Jackson 11 months instead of Lucas's 20 years doesn't really change the fact that, in both cases, it was the shorter version that set the box office on fire, won scads of critical acclaim, etc. If the changes were truly insignificant, they wouldn't be making them; therefore, they much be significant, and have a significant impact on how people interpret the films.

Sure, New Line is releasing both versions now on DVD, but what about when it's time for HD DVD, or whatever the next format is? It's an example worth pointing out because that is the situation with the Star Wars films: It looks like the best home video version of the theatrical releases is going to be the laserdiscs, as Lucas only wants to deal with the special editions from here on out.

This isn't the sort of thing that keeps me up nights, but if we believe that movies are art, and have cultural significance, then it's troubling/shameful to lose the most culturally resonant versions in favor of the director's cuts. Technologically, and even from a market perspective, there's no reason there can't be both, and it's in the interests of film scholarship to have both, but ...

Aw, hell. I'm just pissed that when I can finally by the Star Wars films on DVD, I'm only going to be able to get the version that Lucas fouled up. (The theatrical cut of Episode I was never even released.)
posted by blueshammer at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2002

Actually, my theory is that they don't care if they sell many copies of the standard theatrical version - but this move DEFINATELY will increase rental revenue which also looks pretty good on the old balance sheet. If they had waited until they had cobbled together the extended version few, if any, LOTR fans would have bothered to rent - we would have bought it and been done with it. As it is, most of us rented the sucker already just to get a fix to hold us over until November, to see the Two Towers trailer and to view the behind the scenes bit concerning the next movie. It's a great way to boost rentals while still getting big sales pure genius.
posted by RevGreg at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2002

But then again, I never understood why one would want to waste two hours of one's existence on Earth watching a movie a second or third time.

Three and a half hours of one's existence, actually. Though, and no offense, that has to be one of the most optimistically pretentious things I’ve ever heard that wasn’t said by a high school guidance councilor or youth pastor. If I didn’t watch office space for a tenth time, I’d probably just end up here talking about office space.
posted by Gary at 12:54 PM on August 16, 2002 thoughts exactly Jart. (Can I get an edition with Connery as Gandalf, not Stewart? What about Anthony Hopkins as Saruman?)
posted by pjgulliver at 12:54 PM on August 16, 2002

I was all set to wait for the ultra deluxe platinum version until I just noticed at Amazon that the movie is spread over two discs. That sucks... I think I'd rather skip the extra 30 minutes than have to get up and swap dvds somewhere in the middle of the film. And where exactly will they split it? Somewhere between Rivendell and Moria?
posted by crumbly at 12:56 PM on August 16, 2002

Please...I knew about the extended DVD long before the short was out, and can't understand why people cry over this. Basically, Jackson is doing it right, which takes time, which is something consumers don't like to hear, I guess.

Personnally, I'm psyched beyond belief that the extended version is coming out as it will, with the scenes incorporated into the entire movie.

somehow, skipping from point to point in a movie to see only the deleted scenes is a little less than extraordinary to me.

I liked how the reviewer who purports to be so outraged by all these marketing gimmicks is in fact proving them right in their tactics: he describes will utmost detail what he gathers from the disc's teasers. He'll even buy the upcoming one. But advises us to rent. Jeez, that'll teach those Hollywood types...
posted by Busithoth at 1:00 PM on August 16, 2002

I just marvel that someone would waste their cash to buy a DVD of that crappy movie...
posted by owillis at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2002

but if we believe that movies are art, and have cultural significance, then it's troubling/shameful to lose the most culturally resonant versions in favor of the director's cuts

Excellent observation, blueshammer. While it's fine for Lucas to "tinker" and "update" and "enhance" his trilogy for his own enjoyment, I did not see Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope Special Director's Cut Edition 115 times in the theater. I saw Star Wars. That's it, that's the film I treasure, the one I love, the one that gives me warm, happy memories of my childhood.

To know that I'll never own anything but a rapidly-decaying VHS copy of that first (and, by Lucas' lights, extremely imperfect) vision annoys the hell out of me. Art is never finished, just abandoned. Digital technology allows obsessives like Lucas to ignore that salient truism...but also prevents me from ever purchasing anything Lucas ever decides to release on DVD or data crystal or molecule rag. His loss.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:07 PM on August 16, 2002

I agree about the Star Wars DVD travesty. Then again, the director's cut of Blade Runner is far superior, and thank god it's on DVD. Then yet again, it also gets shown in theatres sometimes.
posted by bingo at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2002

the difference here is that Lucas has the idiotic philosophy that "a movie is never done." The DVD versions of the original star wars trilogy are going to be "the ultimate edition" with even more shit added than the "special editions." if lucas had his way, all existing copies of the original cuts of the first 3 movies would be destroyed.

the fellowship of the ring special edition is different - it's not revisionist history. the original theatrical cut is available and probably will always be available in some form. the special edition is fan service - it's for the people (me included) who missed some of the omissions from the book and don't mind sitting down for 4 hours and switching discs in order to see how some of those omissions are handled.

as for the star wars dvds, high quality bootlegs of the special edition edits are out there. true, they're not the ones you remember from your childhood, but at least they won't have natalie portman and jar jar binks digitally added, and you can get them now, not 5 years from now.
posted by chrisege at 1:40 PM on August 16, 2002

Man, I don't care! I'll buy them all! Hats off to Peter Bloody Jackson! Money that is going to New Zealanders! I'm all for it!
posted by animoller at 1:43 PM on August 16, 2002

I bought the 2 disc set of FoTR. I'll probably put the 4 disc set on my xmas list. Why, you may ask? For the same reason i'm glad I own the original Apocalypse Now. The redux was crap. I want to have the option of watching it the way it appeared in the theater.
posted by jbelshaw at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2002

I think I'll just keep watching my free DivX copy for now. Then I'll buy the Special Extended Edition DVD when that comes out. Seems fair to me.
posted by Rattmouth at 1:52 PM on August 16, 2002

Blueshammer: I confess to being a little nervous about director's-cut revisionism. That it took Jackson 11 months instead of Lucas's 20 years doesn't really change the fact that, in both cases, it was the shorter version that set the box office on fire...

From what I understand, the two situations are entirely different. The supplemental material being added to the FoTR DVD was always part of Jackson's vision for the film, was filmed during the original production, and was only cut due to MPAA ratings and length issues. On the other hand, Lucas' additions (like the much-reviled Greedo-shooting-first, the digitally-added creatures, etc.) seem to be afterthoughts and products of the "Woohoo! Modern technology allows me to add more flashing lights and sirens!" mindset.

LoTR also arises from an extremely well-documented set of source material written decades ago, so much of what is added will likely follow suit, whereas Star Wars was based solely on what emerged from Lucas' head...or, in some cases, his a--well, you get the point.

I'll probably buy the 4-disc set, and rent the 2-disc set in the meantime.
posted by Danelope at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2002

All right, I just got called on the carpet for not giving mad props to the person who inspired this thread.

SO, to correct that, this thread inspired by the rantings and ravings of my good friend and ex-employee Hurin at Dor-Lomin ... download his excellent Civilization II scenario Dagor Bragollach (from The Silmarillion) today!

Love you Hurin. Really, I do. Weiner.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:01 PM on August 16, 2002

jbelshaw: I just finished rewatching Redux last night. IMO, I think it's fundamentally different than the original, but good in its own right and certainly not crap (but that's neither here nor there, and I do know a number of people that loathe it).

I think the writers of the negative articles forget that it's things like this that holidays are for. And I agree with jbelshaw: sometimes you want the original, sometimes you want more (like that Escher drawing).

And Triplanetary: But then again, I never understood why one would want to waste two hours of one's existence on Earth watching a movie a second or third time.

I guess I shouldn't have reread Catch-22 either, should I? Or relistened to Beethoven's Eroica? Art exists to be reexperienced, and with each new experience, it can bring new thought and insight to our lives. Or make us laugh a hell of a lot more... where's that Office Space tape I left around here...
posted by The Michael The at 2:08 PM on August 16, 2002

I don't understand what all the whining is about. I'm a little upset that the extras for the small edition are not included in the big edition, but then, I have yet to see a DVD extra worth watching.

Me, I'm going to wait for an uber-edition collector's set of the entire movie (actually, the marketing gimmick I'm pissed off the most about in the LOTR movie is their slow release schedule). If I ever get the urge to watch it in the meantime I can always go rent the DVD (and rip it, bwahaha).
posted by azazello at 2:15 PM on August 16, 2002

Do and really count as "the media?"
posted by uftheory at 2:15 PM on August 16, 2002

I don't mind as long as there's advanced notice so fans can choose. Hey, I'd rather have Special Editions with lots of extras, than JUST the movie itself... and being able to choose (based on their price) certainly is nice.

I got burned by "Boogie Nights" -- which had at least three releases, one "special edition" and one "platinum series" (?) edition -- with an entirely DIFFERENT director's commentary.

I also got burned by "Almost Famous." It came out on DVD, then a few months later, came out again with a "Bootleg Director's Cut." With no advance warning or rebate for those that bought the first one.
posted by Fofer at 2:18 PM on August 16, 2002

OK, crap is the wrong word, but the added material fundamentally changes the tone of the movie.
posted by jbelshaw at 2:25 PM on August 16, 2002

(Council of Elrond)

Elrond: "I thought it wise to include in our discussion Mr. Edward G. Robinson, Mr. Robinson? (applause)

EGR: "thank you ah, elrond, i want to ah, say it is wonderful to be in rivendell and i ah understand you have a problem"

Elrond: Yes Mr. Robinson, Sauron, the dark lord is marshalling an evil force to destroy all of middle earth and but needs this ring to acheive it. The wizard Sauraman has joined forces with Sauron which makes our allies few.

EGR: I see what you mean. This is what you do shee, you get this ring to a place of destruction,a blast furnace, an atom bomb, launch it into space...and i wanna see this sauraman, no ones gonna muscle in on my friends shee. Right, now you guys take these young fellas here where they need to go and dont mess up (squints eyes) i dont want to have to come after you guys. and shay lemme a crack at that ring....

Sam:(removes EGR mask) "its gollum mr. frodo, a foolin us into thinkin he's Mr. Robinson"
posted by clavdivs at 4:30 PM on August 16, 2002

Jbelshaw: Agreed.

clavdivs: Classic. I will never be able to watch that movie again without replaying this scene in my head and laughing very hard.
posted by The Michael The at 6:17 PM on August 16, 2002

Why are they complaining about LotR:FotR all of a sudden? Where were these people when they released Pearl Harbor for the third time?
posted by cnx at 8:06 PM on August 16, 2002

I also got burned by "Almost Famous." It came out on DVD, then a few months later, came out again with a "Bootleg Director's Cut." With no advance warning or rebate for those that bought the first one.

Fofer: Actually, there was plenty of warning. It was announced that there would be a commentary and extended cut on the DVD... the release date neared, and Crowe hadn't had time yet to prepare these things... so the 'Untitled' version was planned and made known. (Admittedly, that 2nd version arrived sooner than I expected it to.)

...but I read DVD news sites like they're paying me for it, so I understand the frustration of the average person who does not know these things.

Heck, since there's got to be some interest in avoiding this problem, note this list of likely future re-releases.
posted by El_Gray at 8:20 PM on August 16, 2002

AFAIK, Apocalypse Now Redux just adds footage and doesn't delete any from the original version. So I waited for that DVD instead of getting the original. Now I can add in the "new" stuff I like (the 2nd encounter with the bunnies) and ditch the stuff that I don't think works (the plantation.) Thank goodness Coppola didn't pull a Lucas and all of a sudden make the helicopters at the beginning play the Archies instead of Wagner.
posted by Vidiot at 9:21 PM on August 16, 2002

Oh, the world is rich in opportunities for DVD rage. Personally, I'm more enraged that the Evangelion movies, Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion are being released as non-anamorphic letterbox. Non-anamorphic? In 2002? What were they thinking[interrobang]
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:36 PM on August 16, 2002

Not only did they let us know in advance that there would be an extended version of the DVD, the current non-extended DVD actually has a preview of the extended version. It says this clearly on the back cover of the DVD. Ergo, they are not tricking consumers at all. The dude at Blockbuster even told me "there's going to be an extended release in November..."

This isn't the sort of thing that keeps me up nights, but if we believe that movies are art, and have cultural significance, then it's troubling/shameful to lose the most culturally resonant versions in favor of the director's cuts.

There is evidence to suggest that Shakespeare rewrote many of his plays.

Furthermore, in live theater, director's are encouraged to reinterpret written work. Indeed, any time a different set of actors perform Hamlet, you are getting a different vision of the play. Indeed, who knows how close the production is to Shakespeare's original intent?

Shakespeare survives because his work is great. Lucas looks like a moron because he has turned into a hack. Where Peter Jackson falls in the Shakespeare-Lucas Continuum remains to be seen.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:12 PM on August 16, 2002

Ever since they first announced the multiple version releases of the FoTR, I've been saying what azazello said: I'm gonna wait for the super-ultra-mega collector's set which is bound to come out after the third film is released -- Christmas 2004? But with all the DRM noise coming out of Hollywood, I'm worried about what I'll actually be able to DO with that set if I wait to buy it. How many times will I be able to watch it before I'm locked out? How many hours of trailers will I be forced to endure when my fast-forwarding button is locked out?

I'm starting to think I better buy it now, while it's still (relatively) open. And maybe I better pick up a spare DVD player while I'm at it.
posted by eptitude at 4:49 AM on August 17, 2002

Count me among those who bought the currently available version - but only so I'd have something to watch while I wait for the "full" version in November.

Unlike Lucas, I believe Jackson's additional material is actually germane to the story - Lucas added cheesy special effects, Jackson's restoring elements and scenes from well known, well loved source material. I think this is particularly true for the more literal minded amongst us who were saddened by a theatrical cut that did not include, among other things reported as filmed, visiting overnight with Elves on the way from Hobbiton to Bree and the presentation of gifts from Galadriel to the Fellowship (none of the gifts are without importance, but at least one of them is absolutely critical to the story later on).
posted by JollyWanker at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2002

Well, the issue of accessibility comes into play here, and I’m sure you’ll all find it fascinating. Until very recently (<autobloggatio>with Austin Powers</autobloggatio>), New Line Cinema had not released a first-run movie with MoPix captions and descriptions. Not even LotR, which earned US$66 million in the U.S. alone in its first weekend, roughly 2,800 times what it would have cost to caption and describe the movie for theatres.

DVDs will have Line 21 captions in NTSC markets (Region 1 and Japanese Region 2) and some kind of possibly-crappy DVD “subtitles” in various regions. Let’s consider that problem solved (even though the Canadian captions and subtitles might be different and worse again in ways you could not imagine). But now we’re facing three different pressings of two editions of LotR (the boxed set is the collector’s edition with added bookends, apparently), both editions being multi-disc issues. The bit budget (number of bits available on the DVD) should be quite sufficient to include audio-description track.

But it didn’t happen in the currently-available DVD set (which would have made it only the tenth Region 1 DVD with description), and it is not looking good for the four-disc set, where many bit-budget sacrifices can indeed be made on the main movie disc. (They could even add audiovisual menus, à la The Grinch and a couple of PBS DVDs.)

If a movie this popular and profitable cannot be made fully accessible, even in the 21st century, we have a problem.
posted by joeclark at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2002

Just another reminder of why I am no longer a materialist.
posted by mischief at 10:13 AM on August 17, 2002

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