Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rate Of Exchange

So that’s it, summer’s over. Which means, with Atonement on the horizon, we’re done with the summer movies too. Which is no great loss really. The Bourne Ultimatum aside, I was in no rush to see most of what the Hollywood studios projectile pooped onto the screens.

While this summer the US box office takings broke the $4 billion barrier, over at DISContent Bill Cunningham flags up the news from Len Klady at that “movies in theaters are loss leaders.”

Studios make about 16 percent of their revenues from showing films in theaters, about 47 percent from DVD sales and rentals, and the remainder from on-demand and television.

Apparently I’m not the only one who waits for the shiny disc. And the studios sure as shit know it. For a long time I’ve preferred to sit in the comfort of my own home and watch a movie rather than take a seat in a barn. If I want someone talking during the film it’s more likely to be the director on the optional commentary track rather than a bunch of unwashed proles chomping their way through a bucket of popcorn.

When I caught up with Work Buddy and the Governess last week to discuss upcoming projects, while she was in the powder room we got around to the really important things: Had he seen The Bourne Ultimatum? Had I seen Die Hard 4.0? Each answer was a big resounding no.

I love the Die Hard movies. I don’t even mind the pretty useless second one directed by Renny Harlin. But the low certificate of Die Hard 4.0 put me off. I caught Die Hard 2: Die Harder on its opening weekend in New York, back in 1990. When I returned to England, I watched it again with friends and became increasingly aware of the number of f-words fucking Fox had altered on the soundtrack to garner a lower, 15 certificate from the BFCC.

I could understand the fourth movie being trimmed here and there to get that same certificate in the UK, but to be a PG-13 in the US? That didn’t seem right. Then came word of odd dubbing and even odder edits, and the fact that there wasn’t a signature “Yipee-ki-yay motherfucker!” I mean, what the fuck?!

I’ve already blown off over the past months about DVD special editions, extended editions, and various director’s cuts that appear on sale long after the bog standard theatrically-released version first arrived on disc. Some have artistic merit, others seem to be nothing more than a straight cash-in so the studios can dip into the consumers’ deep pockets again.

One further addition to the range of DVDs is the “unrated version” that can pretty much arrive straight on the shelves without any delay. Either they’re a response to restoring cuts the classification boards demanded, or simply putting back material the studio purposefully took out to get a lower certificate and a wider possible audience.

With more goofing around and gross-out humour in the comedies, lashing more nudity, bad language or violence, depending on your pick, “unrated versions” suggest we get to see material that the likes of the BBFC thought would harm our delicate sensibilities. The fact that it gives the studios a chance to sell the film all over again to a potentially different audience and make more money off the back of it is probably just one of those happy coincidences. Sure.

So I mentioned to Work Buddy that the ‘watered down’ cinema version Die Hard 4.0 pretty much meant an inevitable unrated DVD version turning up, which is what I’d be waiting for.

Well, what do you know? This is the Region 1 DVD.

I don’t doubt we’ll get the same opportunity over here. So am I either incredibly prescient or just a total cynical bastard?


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