This week's retailer exclusives gives me a great opportunity to talk about SteelBooks (SB) and my own SteelBook collection and the little bit of drama (for Bond Blu-ray enthusiasts anyway) that surrounded the original debut of Secret Agent 007 onto high definition.
Quantum of Blu
I've mentioned before that I'm not an enthusiastic SB fan. But just for the sake of having some examples of them in my Blu-ray collection (which ultimately came in handy during some product design assignments I got to work on), I ended up finding a fun motivation to pick a few up. The motivation: The name is Bond. James Bond.
The year was 2008, but unlike the release that took place earlier this month when the Bond 50 box set debuted, the films were released in two waves of smaller groups three or four films at a time over a period of several months.
But some retail chains were allowed to offer exclusive SB packaging for selected titles. I love me some James Bond every now and then, so I figured this would be a fine way to get some SBs in my library. And since this is a film series, I realized having all my James Bond films sharing the same SB packaging would look nice on my shelf.
So that's how I started my SB and James Bond collection.
The first wave was released on October 21, 2008. And Best Buy was the first retailer to offer them exclusively in SBs. I picked up Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Thunderball and For Your Eyes Only.
The second wave of Bond Blu-rays debuted on March 24, 2009 and this time, Amazon offered them in SBs exclusively. I picked up two more, Goldfinger and The World Is Not Enough.
By this time, 11 out of the 20 total pre-Daniel Craig James Bond films were out on Blu-ray. The titles that were out that I didn't add to my collection were Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, Licence To Kill and Die Another Day. Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) both debuted on Blu on October 21, 2008 and March 24, 2009 respectively, but were not offered on SB in the US. I figured that Craig's Bond films defined an entirely new era of 007 movies, so I was content to own those two in the standard plastic Blu-ray cases.
But of the original Bond classics, there were nine left still to come out. Did they release them? No. Why not? For the same reason it took four years for there to be a Bond film made between Quantum of Solace and the upcoming Skyfall. MGM was broke.
Licence to Blu - Uh...NOT!
Even as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were being produced, MGM, a co-distributor with Columbia Pictures of the James Bond films, was mired by over $3 billion in debt. This prevented any more home videos releases until their financial state was resolved.
After spending several months soliciting bids from studios and other investors to buy itself, MGM finally filed for bankruptcy on November 3, 2010. It came out of bankruptcy the following month and was able to finaiize distribution deals that not only allowed production of Skyfall to proceed but eventually lead to the January 2012 announcement of a new 22-movie Bond 50 box set and further releases of each of the movies separately.
For Your Blu Eyes Only...
The new Bond 50 box set went on sale October 2, 2012 in both Blu-ray Disc and DVD formats. It includes 22 James Bond films produced by EON Productions plus a bonus disc exclusive to the box set. Two other well-known James Bond films, Never Say Never Again and the 1966 spoof Casino Royale, were not produced by EON, so they are not included in this set. But they each have been released on Blu-ray already.
The remaining nine classic Bond films that we were waiting for when the other eleven were released finally got their individual releases on Blu-ray. However, for a short period of time, you'll need to do some hunting to find them as they are all retailer exclusives, each available only either at Best Buy, Target or Walmart.
Target Retailer Exclusives - Available Now
Walmart Retailer Exclusives - Available Now
Best Buy Retailer Exclusives - Available October 23, 2012
This exclusivity is a limited time thing. I expect in about three or four months, the titles will be available to buy from other retailers. And of course, the previous eleven titles that debuted back in 2008 and 2009 have also been re-issued individually with updated packaging art.
...but not on SteelBook
However, none of the nine new individual releases will arrive in SteelBook packaging in the US. There will be one title released on SB this December, GoldenEye, from an online UK retailer Play.com. But it's a Region B disc, and like we talked about last week, this UK release will only play on Region B Blu-ray players.
So for GoldenEye, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Tomorrow Never Dies and maybe The LIving Daylights (just to have a token Dalton Bond even tho' I really didn't enjoy his Bond), I will have to be patient and wait maybe until next year to see if somebody finally offers these on SB in the US. I mean, I just can't have my classic Bond collection not be all SteelBooks now, right?
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!