BLOG The Avengers Blu-ray Debacle

Today saw the release of the Joss Whedon Avengers film on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, the film did fantastically at the cinema and made over a billion-and-a-half dollars.

This is supposed to be one of those great release dates. Instead it’s a day of questions, confusion and frustration because of Disney’s bizarre sales tactics.

As I said in my previous blog on this subject I was really looking forward to the release of this film and attempted to pre-order it. But I couldn’t find a UK release including a Joss Whedon commentary.

After the blog explaining my dilemma there were many responses and one commenter brought news of a Tesco exclusive. The Tesco release of the Avengers Blu-ray seemed to include a commentary while no others in the UK did. There were other exclusives: Asda was offering a comic with its Avengers release; Sainsbury’s had a 90-minute documentary that nobody else had; HMV had a steel book release. With all these various exclusives it didn’t seem impossible that Tesco could have the only release to feature a commentary. I decided to pre-order it.

Other people were asking questions about the commentary or lack thereof and a few days after my blog, Empire posted an article saying Disney had announced that there would be no commentary track on the UK release because Joss Whedon didn’t record it in time for the release date. A release date which is just a week earlier than the US release date and US buyers are getting a commentary. Seems like a pretty lame excuse to me. I’d be perfectly happy to wait a week for a fuller content on my Blu-ray. And you’d think a giant company which regularly released DVD and Blu-rays would get all its content organised in time for the release date.

Having pre-order the Tesco “Exclusive” prior to this news, I rang Tesco to find out whether its release did or did not in fact have a commentary. I explained what Disney had apparently said and the man from Tesco didn’t know anything about it. He said he’d try to find out and someone would call back within 24 hours. They never called back.

A week later I called Tesco again explaining the situation and said that I’d been waiting for a response for over a week. They apologised and said they’d get back to me before the end of the day. This was 10 day ago. They still haven’t responded. And the Tesco website still says its release features a commentary more than three weeks after I called it into question. It does not contain a commentary. I received my copy of Avengers on Saturday. There’s no commentary on it. There’s also a feature mentioned on the Tesco website that isn’t on the Blu-ray either. The feature appears to be the 90-minute “Assembling The Ultimate Team” feature which Sainsbury’s is claiming as an exclusive. Tesco don’t seem to know that it didn’t have that either.

All of these various extras which have been divided up between supermarkets or denied UK viewers altogether are available on the US releases as standard on all except the basic DVD release and even that gets the commentary. Disney just seems to want to screw the UK market. I guess this shows just how important our little island is to the giant corporation.

With the film now out there’s also been some reports that there have been some minor changes made to it. A certain scene featuring a man and a spear have had the spear tip removed and the blood toned down. The reason for this, whether it’s a UK release only thing or will be the same on the US release remain to be seen. But having watched the scene in question I can confirm that it is indeed different from the theatrical release but I have no idea why. The rating is the same. It’s an odd bit of Lucas-esque tinkering which at the moment seems to have no reasoning behind it.

The result of all this is that my Tesco copy of the film is going back. The US release appears to be region free, has everything I want all in one box and it’s only a week away so I’m going to order that. I’d recommend you do the same. If you don’t care about the commentary I’d recommend the Sainsbury’s release. I wouldn’t recommend Tesco, which doesn’t seem to care about its customers, or that its website has incorrect information.

To Disney I’d say stop screwing us over. But I doubt they’d listen. DVD extra content has been dwindling in recent years, not just with Disney release, and now the idea that extra content can be farmed out amongst different retailers to try to get punters to buy multiple copies seems to be the new thing. They just want our money. They don’t seem to care about giving customers the best home release movie package they can.

And we want the films. Some of us want the extras. The only way this is going to change is if we stop buying and that just isn’t going to happen. They have us over a barrel.

All I wanted was to relive one of the films I’ve enjoyed the most this year and hear the thoughts of the writer/director of that film. What I got was a series of brick walls, and lot of people in the same position as me and a film I once really enjoyed tainted by the machinations of corporate sales tactics.