Man of Steel will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray in 11 days. And Superman being one of those entertainment properties having gazillions of around the world wanting their hero presented in something special, this Blu-ray is being offered in several different, unique editions. And for your educational pleasure, I thought I'd whip out a quick blog listing those editions for you.
There's seven in total. - UPDATED 11/3/13: Eight! Added a cool exclusive edition from Australia that I found after my original posting.
Plus one from a land across the moat.
Standard Combo Pack
3D Combo Pack
Limited Edition 3D Combo Pack Gift Set
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Amazon
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Walmart
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Target
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: WBShop.com
REGION EXCLUSIVE: Germany
And finally here's one that's available in Germany. It includes Region B discs so if you decide you want this one, you'll need to own a region-free Blu-ray Disc player to play the movie (unless you plan to use the discs as coasters).
REGION EXCLUSIVE: Australia
Added November 3, 2013.
Just found this this morning, available exclusively in the Australian market.
Australia Blu-ray Discs are also traditional Region B discs (US is Region A).
A Bonus Feature
Hope you enjoyed the recap. Do you know which one you're going to get? Or will you just stream it on Netflix?
Speaking of Netflix, I'm not a Netflix subscriber so I'm not sure if they also provide the bonus material with movies. But this new short is included when you pick up a copy of Man of Steel. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
Yesterday, Paramount formally released cover art for the home video releases of Star Trek Into Darkness combo packs. I later found artwork for the DVD cover as well, and I was struck by the fact that all three have entirely different cover designs, with none of them using any of the previously release movie posters.
Weeks before yesterday, those of us who skulk around the interwebs already knew about alternate editions available at two U.S. retailers. Walmart has a listing for an limited edition SteelBook case paired with a toy replica of the U.S.S. Vengeance, produced by Hot Wheels, and Amazon listed their exclusive 3D combo gift set that includes a high-quality replica of a Phaser weapon. Offering retailer exclusives such aren't uncommon. They're incentives hoping to lure consumers to purchase their copy from one retailers and maybe buy some other stuff while they're shopping. The same thing happened with the home video releases of the 2009 Star Trek film. Below are three of them.
If you must know, 2009's Star Trek Blu-ray is the first time I've given in to owning two versions of the same film. I picked up both the Target Enterprise case and Best Buy version to get all the metal pins. I couldn't help it. I'm a Star Trek nut!
Hunting further online, I found some more alternate editions of Star Trek Into Darkness home video releases included a few available overseas. Following is a gallery of what I've found so far. Enjoy checking these out. Fortunately for what I've found so far, I think I'll survive getting only one copy of Into Darkness this time.
Unless Best Buy, which hasn't revealed anything yet, comes up with something pretty compelling...
EXCLUSIVE EDITIONS - U.S.
EXCLUSIVE EDITIONS - INTERNATIONAL
And if you have no idea what a SteelBook is, check out one of my earlier blogs where I chatted them up!
The Muppet Christmas Carol theatrical trailer
The Muppet Christmas Carol debuts on high definition home video this coming Tuesday, and it's by far one of my favorite holiday movies and movie versions of Dickens' classic novel. There are two Blu-ray Disc editions coming out this week, the standard version and an exclusive Amazon edition that adds a DVD of the film with your purchase.
Now while doing my normal due diligence researching stuff about this new Blu-ray, I learned something new about the movie itself. I found discussion going on at the boards on Blu-ray.com that was ablaze many angry and upset posts from fans who wanted --- in fact, demanded! --- that Disney add back a scene to the movie that was cut from the film.
There was a scene cut from the film?! Apparently, there was, and it was news to me.
The scene in question involves the song "When Love Is Gone". It was included when director Brian Henson submitted his final cut of the film to Disney. But when Disney screened it, they apparently felt the scene, featuring young Ebenezer's fiancee singing a ballad as she ends their engagement, slowed the pacing of the story down quite a bit and worried that the youngest kids in the audience wouldn't enjoy it. So, Disney elected to cut it. And with the scene removed, that's how the film was shown when it first debuted in theatres at Christmas time in 1992.
However, when the movie was first released on home video a year later - on VHS and on Laserdisc - the "When Love Is Gone" scene was added back in! Years later when it debuted on DVD, "When Love Is Gone" continued to appear in the newest release. The only difference was that while the Laserdisc presented the film in its full widescreen glory, the VHS and DVD versions presented it in (that really awful, icky, waste of space) Pan & Scan (or Fullscreen) format. So for years, fans of the film grew up enjoying The Muppet Christmas Carol with "When Love Is Gone" in the movie, just as the director intended, without realizing they were watching essentially the extended Director's Cut of the film, not the actual, original theatrical cut.
But apparently, the same will not be the case when it debuts on Blu-ray this week.
The official discussion thread for The Muppet Christmas Carol on Blu-ray.com's forum board is filled with posts from fans who are livid that the upcoming Blu-ray release will feature just the original theatrical cut, with no inclusion whatsoever of the "When Love Is Gone" scene on the Blu-ray, not even as a deleted scene. And many of those upset fans have gone so far as to post email addresses and snail mail addresses of those to contact at Disney and let know their disappointment about the omission of the scene, even tho' Disney is technically accurate when it claims to be releasing the original theatrical cut.
Now, Disney and Muppet fan that I am, I don't actually own a copy on DVD. I passed on getting any of the DVD releases because I saw that "Fullscreen" notice on the back of both titles, and I am just not a fan of the Pan & Scan format. But I have seen the film several times over the years and even own a rare original CD copy of the soundtrack. And I was looking forward to finally owning it on Blu-ray. But I'll be honest, with all the brimstone and fire being spewed at Disney from rabid, admittedly uber-geeky, diehard fans online, I've pushed the pause button on buying it right away. I wondered, "Would I prefer the extended cut on Blu-ray or would I be fine with the theatrical cut on it (for now)?"
And of course, I couldn't think it through without watching the "missing" scene in question. So here it is.
So if everything I've read so far is true, this scene will be missing when you buy the Blu-ray Disc this Tuesday. Instead, those watching the original theatrical cut will apparently reach a jarring transition as that scene is edited out, perhaps someplace after the dialogue scene between young Ebenezer and Belle outdoors at the park. But again, it is the version that Disney first released when it went out to theatres.
Like I said, I have the soundtrack, so I'm very familiar with that song, having played it more times than I've actually watched the movie. And being the collector-type guy that I am, it probably goes without saying that I'd prefer to have the scene included, as a deleted scene at the very least. At this point, I haven't yet found a review of the new release online to offer anymore insight. But rest assured I'll be looking forward to reading those reviews. And maybe you will too.
Or not! :)
P.S. - While doing research for this blog, I came across a great video explaining the difference between Widescreen and Pan & Scan or Fullscreen format. I linked to it up above, but I felt it was too good a video not to force feed to you. Even as we adopt the widescreen format flatscreen TVs, I still read about folks annoyed by the black bars on the top and bottom or sides of movies they watch on DVD or Blu-ray. Here's why that happens, and why I absolutely love widescreen and understand and accept the black bars thing. Learn and enjoy!
Thanks for the feedback and the "likes" for those of you who enjoyed last week's first installment of my articles about Blu-rays. I really enjoyed putting it together, and there'll be lots more entries like that that I think you're find helpful and interesting.
This week I didn't find any new retailer exclusives to point out. But there are a couple titles debuting on Blu-ray this coming Tuesday October 16 that some of my friends might like to know about., in particular those who are of the Disney persuasion and those who are classic Looney Tunes enthusiasts.
The Disney Blu-ray release is Pete's Dragon. I've yet to see this, and I can already hear my friends yelling at me as they read this that I "...must watch it NOW!" It's a combo pack meaning it includes both a Blu-ray Disc and a DVD, the idea being that for those who haven't yet added a Blu-ray player to their homes can conveniently begin building their Blu-ray Disc library in advance of ultimately getting one yet still watch the DVD on their current equipment.
This also brings up an interesting fact about certain combo pack titles. Sometimes, studios will release it in both the shorter Blu-ray-sized packaging and the taller DVD-sized packaging. That's the case Disney chose here with Pete's Dragon, releasing it DVD-size format as well. This lets those same folks just entering the world of Blu-ray but who really, really want to have their DVD cases on the shelf be all the same height have their wish!
The new Looney Tunes release is the second three-disc collection of Warner Bros.' classic cartoon shorts (It has the red box cover design shown above). Volume One (with silver and blue package design) was released last November in two editions, a standard three-disc set (center image above) and a "Limited and Numbered Edition" in a box containing bonus swag goodies (beauty shot above right).
Beyond that, I wondered what other Blu news I could talk about today. Then an idea finally came to me last week as I was reading through discussion threads at Blu-ray.com's forum boards. Someone had posted information about a recent Blu-ray release that influenced my decision to buy it, even tho' I'd already known about the release months ago and decided to pass on it. The new info, especially in the way it was shared, made me second-guess my original decision. It was also then that I realized that that experience would be a great chance to show you a tool that Blu-ray enthusiasts use today, something I'm sure many of you didn't know about. It involves making videos and posting them on YouTube.
Unboxing videos are made by online news sites and Blu-ray enthusiasts all over the world. What they do is shoot video while opening a fresh, new Blu-ray Disc release that they've just received. Sometimes goofy, always geeky, and often done by amateurs aspiring to make a reputation for themselves among niche YT viewers, they're meant to not only share the enthusiasm they have for their latest and greatest addition but also provide some insight to fellow fans about new and distinctive releases who might be wondering how a particular title is packaged or what exactly is included inside. The video below is a brief (which is rare that it's so brief!) example of a typical unboxing.
Pretty basic, but because this was a non-standard type of packaging, fairly informative too. If you were on the fence about what you were getting when you looked at the non-standard, bulky, oversized Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray set, and the beauty shot of it shown at left didn't really answer all your questions about it, this video becomes very helpful.
Now, what about a different type of Blu-ray release. Say, one of those big huge box sets, like the ones Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has done for Gone with the Wind or 20th Century Fox for The Sound of Music? You can find beauty shots of their contents also, but like in above video wouldn't it be more helpful if someone opened it up for you to show you how it looks inside and see them holding all of the swag items in their hands? That post I mentioned earlier featured an unboxing video of a box set and after watching it, I immediately became more enamored of it.
And what was that set? It was Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Collection. But not the standard release that can be purchased anywhere. It was an exclusive box set, a retailer exclusive actually, available only from Amazon UK.
That's the Amazon on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the United Kingdom, in an entirely different continent. An international retailer exclusive!
The ABCs of Blu
Now here's something about buying Blu-rays and DVDs from another country. They don't automatically play in PS3s and other Blu-ray players made for the good ol' U S of A. The international home video industry follows region coding standards, a practice started years ago with DVDs and continued with the introduction of Blu-ray Discs. It has to do partly with licensing rights. Rights for different regions of the world may not necessarily be owned by the same distributor. And to keep folks honest, video players around the world are manufactured differently enough to allow Blu-rays and DVDs for one region to play only in players built for, say, Region A but not for players built for Region B or Region C. In fact, for Blu-ray Discs, there are only three region codes and they are Regions A, B, and C. For you regular international travelers, it's just like you having to buy a completely new thingamabob because the plug for your original thingamabob that you can use here in the US won't work in those European electrical outlets. They simply don't play nice with each other at all.
So, back to the Indiana Jones set and Amazon UK. I could buy the standard collection here in the US and have no doubt whatsoever that I can play the discs and watch them just fine. But theirs is a limited edition version with really cool swag included, not available from any other retailer except Amazon UK. Here is that unboxing video I watched. And it's pretty tempting to own...if only I knew it would play in my PS3.
Cool, huh? Especially that diary!
To the left is the beauty shot I found earlier this year of the set. I knew about the set's existence early enough. But my inclination at that time to not get it was swayed not just by the possible region code conflict, but also from someone's comment on the forum boards that for the extra money, we're just getting a lot of extra paper. Made sense. And that helped convince me at the time to keep my money in my credit card.
Then, last week I watched the above video and I was screwed.
Or maybe not! Perhaps it being released in the UK, it might strictly be a Region B disc, and not play on US's Region A players, ending further buying consideration permanently. I did some checking, and at first Blu-ray.com's listing for it identified it as "Region B (untested for A,C)". "Untested" refers to the fact that there are some Blu-ray titles that are manufactured to play in all regions; they're Region Free. So now, there was a possibility that the version from the UK might play in my PS3.
Now there are Blu-ray players that actually play BDs from all regions. They play Region A discs, Region B and Region C. My PS3 is not one of them. But there was bound to be someone on Blu-ray.com's forum boards who not only has an all regions Blu-ray player but would go ahead and test it for the rest of us wanting to know and share their results. (One of the reasons why I love visiting the forum boards!) In fact, I added a post myself to ask someone to do that. I went to sleep, and the next morning, I saw the following posted by "srinivas1015" as a direct reply to mine.
I just tested my UK set. It's Region Free. I set my PowerDVD software to region A and it played the disc perfectly. I also tested it in my Region C Playstation 3 and there was no problem.
Great googly moogly! I went to Amazon UK's listing for it and coincidentally their info was updated now stating it as ""Region Free" there too.
I did some quick exchange rate conversions online and to make matter worse - or I guess, better - it turned out that even with international shipping, the Amazon UK set was about the same price as buying the US version here - usually priced around $79.99 - with sales tax added.
So the fact is I'm eighty bucks poorer now. The set is already on its way via DHL and due to arrive to me before the end of the month. But I guess for all the digging around I did related to this holy grail-like quest to find my answers about a famous archeologist's records, I tell myself it was meant to be. But along the way, I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to unboxing videos and region codes. And if you feel like exploring on your own, there are many more unboxing videos to be found on YouTube.
As a postscript, I end this article with the only other Amazon UK exclusive collector's set in my collection. I bought it when it was released in 2010. That time, it was the metal OUTATIME license plate that I couldn't live without. And was I glad it was Region Free too!
Until next time...
Today begins a new series I'll be writing from time to time highlighting new and unique Blu-rays releases, in today's case, retailer exclusives.
This series was inspired last week after creating and sharing the info sheet you see on the left. I did for my Disney friends, particularly those tending to aspiring Disney princesses. These Blu-ray titles come in special storybook packaging, meaning the case itself is a Disney read-along storybook, but each would only be available from one retailer. So I shared the infographic to make sure my friends were aware of their options in case they'd prefer these versions to add to their Disney video collection over the standard versions would could be bought from any store or online retailer. Friends voiced their appreciation, some telling me they added the dates on their calendars to make sure they wouldn't miss them.
Then, I realized I could do this for other future retailer exclusives that come out on Blu-ray. I look up this stuff for myself anyway, so why not share it? It would be a great regular feature to write about. So here goes!
But first, a bit of background.
How I Got Blu
I started buying Blu-ray Discs in 2008. That was the year I took the big financial plunge and invested in both a new 37" Samsung HDTV and a PlayStation 3 (PS3). I remember vividly the Christmas season before while out shopping at Best Buy for presents seeing one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies playing on several HDTVs on display inside the store. Those flatscreen demos did their job. They got me intrigued and finally hooked on the notion of upgrading my home entertainment experience from age-old standard definition to high definition. Several weeks of online research uncovering the difference between 420p, 1080i and 1080p (including many visits and much debt owed to Blu-ray.com's FAQ page) plus a call into Chase Visa to request a reduction of my annual percentage rate to further encourage me to charge more $$$ on my Disney Visa (a reduction Chase granted!) paved the way to this silly little habit I now embrace: building my Blu-ray collection.
What To Blu
My first Blu-ray Disc
Now geared up for high def at home, I continued my search on the web for more movies to watch on Blu-ray. Remember, this was the infancy period of Blu-ray. And Blu-ray Disc had just then only won the war it fought against another high definition format, HD-DVD. Studios had been releasing titles on one, the other, or both formats, and for such a risky investment until a clear winner was declared, the number of films that were released on either format then were just drops in the bucket compared to the number of titles released today, when consumers have learned much more about Blu-ray, become comfortable with all the inherent techno-babble, and the cost of HDTV coming down.
I ended up visiting two websites a lot during this time, High-Def Digest and Blu-ray.com. Their most important assets were the Blu-ray Disc reviews, and I pored through them often. First I looked for films out on Blu-ray that I was familiar with or had seen. For the few titles out on Blu-ray that I owned on DVD and was willing to upgrade, I traded in my old DVDs at my local FYE for store credit to offset some of the costs to buy them on Blu-ray now. (By the way, this habit of upgrading your DVD copies to Blu-ray is known among Blu-ray enthusiasts as "double-dipping", and we put it out there just to say we're both stupid but passionate about the need to re-buy the better version of something we love. Wait until I post a blog about my years buying and re-buying Star Trek on home video - Sheesh!)
But except for Disney films, which supported the Blu-ray Disc format during the HD format war and thus released a fair amount of their titles on Blu to help the cause, there wasn't a lot of my favorite films out yet on Blu-ray that first year, particularly my genre and geek favorites like Star Trek (Paramount chose to debut the original TV series on HD-DVD first; it didn't come out on Blu-ray until a couple years after) or Star Wars. So I looked at other titles that were fairly unknown or previously unseen by me, those which rated very high by reviewers in their video or picture quality (PQ), because frankly high definition video was the eye candy that I fell in love with. And that is when I learned of the term "blind buy".
Blind Blu Buying
My first Blu-ray digibook
I started looking through what folks talked about on Blu-ray.com's discussion boards. There, I found many others new to Blu-ray diving in to watch whatever movies was out on Blu-ray at the time and posting their armchair reviews about their PQ. I obviously felt a kinship with these other people who've embraced Blu-ray, so I was very interested in what they shared on the boards.
Those who took a chance to watch a movie without ever having seen it before coined the phrase blind buy, that they would blindly select a movie to buy and watch it with the hope that it would turn out to be a good choice, telling on the boards what they thought about the Blu-ray either way. To fill my appetite to regularly use my new PS3 and watch new stuff in HD on my new HDTV that first year I owned it, I ended up doing the same thing, blind buying Blu-ray movies. Some of those early purchases included films and documentaries I'd never seen before like Baraka, How the West Was Won, Band of Brothers, and the documentary series Planet Earth. Because of the feedback from the boards and reviews from the home pages, I chose these almost purely because of the high praise their PQ received. Turned out that I loved these choices, and I was more than pleased to discover that not only was their PQ excellent, but their content overwhelmingly entertaining too!
Limited Blus: The Retailer Exclusives
My first SteelBook case
Now I learned other Blu-ray Disc details during my time as a Blu-ray collector, including the main reason that's inspired this particular premiere blog entry.
As the popularity of Blu-ray Disc grew, some U.S. retailers were given the opportunity by studios to offer unique, limited edition versions of more popular titles and make them available only through their chains. These retailers were mainly Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon and for a time FYE aka Sam Goody aka Suncoast Motion Picture Company. And as a collector who enjoys unique packaging and bonus material, I discovered I needed to pay really close attention to what "retailer exclusives" might be offered in addition to the standard versions that every store in the country would sell, because I just might prefer getting one of these retailer exclusives that include an extra bonus disc of material or include a unique action figure or coming a neat new packaging appropriate to the movie than just a plain ol' plastic Blu-ray case. Just like the Disney storybook packaging I discussed at the top of this article.
So whenever there's a new title coming out that I "must buy", I make sure to do some due diligence and see whether any of the store chains listed above are offering their own exclusive. This week, there happens to be a number of retailer exclusives coming out for one popular family film debuting on Blu-ray that may also be worthwhile choices for some early bird Christmas shopping. What a perfect opportunity to showcase retailer exclusives for you!
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial debuts on Blu-ray Disc & DVD on October 9, 2012
Standard edition Combo Pack
E.T. is debuting on Blu-ray Disc this week. Now to be candid, I own E.T. on DVD and I don't really go back and re-watch it very often, altho' there were a few of times I pulled it out because I was assigned an E.T.-related design job. But in looking over what retailer exclusives there were for this title, I was surprised to find as many as I did. And I have to admit a couple naturally caught my eye.
Amazon's exclusive features a replica of the spaceship from the movie. Press a button on the side and not only does the top split open to reveal where your Blu-ray Discs are located, but a ramp in the bottom half slowly opens to reveal E.T. standing on it. Plus it actually lights up and even plays John Williams' "Flying" theme from the movie. Here's a video of it in action. But if you want to get it, I think it might already be sold out.
SteelBook cases are made of metal with plastic trays fitted inside to hold the discs. They're very popular with collectors, but it's a popularity I don't share. SteelBook is a patented design too, and collectors know that. There've been knockoffs produced that aren't true SteelBooks but similar-looking metal media cases. But the difference only matters to SteelBook fans. Most likely, you don't care a hill of beans or Blus about it either! But if you want your E.T. Blu-ray to come inside an authentic SteelBook case, Target is the only place for you to go.
Best Buy's retailer exclusive of E.T. comes inside a digibook. A digibook is essentially a hardcover book, and the Blu-ray Discs are contained inside, either located on plastic trays mounted on either or both of the front and back inside covers or within specially-designed, reinforced pages. Being a book, a digibook naturally provides the opportunity to include 20-40 or more pages of content with the purchase of your Blu-ray that you nornally couldn't get with just buying it inside a standard plastic Blu-ray case, which might come with an insert if you're lucky. However, some Blu-ray enthusiasts criticize digibooks for being a tad taller than those standard plastic Blu-ray cases, effectively ruining that perfect, even height you achieve when you stand a digibook among your neat row of plastic Blu-ray cases on your shelf. Whatever.
The last retailer exclusive I found for E.T. comes from Walmart. In promotional jargon, it's what's called an "in-pack" because the premium item, in this case a plush toy of E.T., is packed inside of a larger box holding the standard Blu-ray release.
Prometheus also debuts on Blu-ray Disc & DVD on October 9, 2012
In additional to E.T., there is another high-prolife title debuting on Blu-ray this week. It's Ridley Scott's summer faux-prequel to his 1979 sci-fi classic Alien, Prometheus.
The only retailer exclusive I found for it will be at Target. It will include a "photo booklet," essentially a softcover pamphlet, that will be packaged with the standard Blu-ray Case packaging of the film. The material presented in the photo booklet is taken from an amazing book called Prometheus: The Art of the Film. I first flipped through this book at the San Diego Comic-Con this past summer, and it not only has gorgeous art and photographs surrounding the making of Prometheus, but also a lot of notes and concepts by Scott that further explain what he might have meant in the movie that he didn't necessarily explain in the movie.
Naturally, all of these retailer exclusives are limited to what quantities each chain elected to produce. Most times, they sell out in the first week or two. Other times, you might still find them even a month later (which likely means the chain ordered way too many). It depends. There are also options to preorder online and have it shipped to your home or perhaps arrange to pick it up in person from a store location near you. I usually elect to go out and get the bloody thing in my greedy little hands on the first day of sale (which 99 times out of a 100 is on a Tuesday for DVD and Blu-ray titles). It also allows me to look through the copies out on the shelves to pick one that looks the best. This is especially important to me in cases like if it includes a slipcover sleeve (I want one that ain't dinged up!) or a premium toy figurine inside (I want the one that's painted perfectly!). It's the anal-retentive collector in me, and I make absolutely no apologies for it.
Most titles' prices may be discounted significantly the week they go on sale. This is as much to stimulate sales as better a studio's chances of getting to say a week later that "Our (insert movie title here) was the number one selling title last week!" But who cares about that. For any title, a good sale price on week one makes for a good idea to get the best price at all when buying it when it first comes out.
Also note that all of these editions including the standard edition includes the movie on both a Blu-ray Disc and a DVD. So if you don't own a Blu-ray player yet, the studios thought of you (to buy their movies) as well.
This time around, my votes goes to the Best Buy digibook for E.T. and picking up Prometheus at Target. I love digibooks and even generic booklets, way more than SteelBooks and plush toys. And while as a product designer, it would've been great to own the Amazon exclusive, I think that one's simply out of my budget right now even if Amazon would let me place an order for it. Of course, I could always order it from Amazon UK. And theirs includes the digibook that I love. In additional, Amazon UK even has a plussed out retailer exclusive for Prometheus as well. But let's save talking about international Blu-rays for a later time, shall we?
Thanks for reading. I hope you found this helpful. Definitely more news about future Blu-ray retailer exclusives to come!
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!