Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How Star Wars could destroy Blu-Ray as we know it

It was announced not too long ago that Star Wars would be making it's debut on Blu-Ray this year.  This had most fan-boys upset as the original versions will not be featured on it, George Lucas asserted last summer that the Blu-Rays would feature only the special editions. I could go on for 50 blog posts about how and why this upsets me but I also find myself nervous about this release. 

To explain why I'm nervous we must travel back to a time when DVD was in it's infancy.  Being a new home video format the only people buying them back in 1997 were obviously people like me, film enthusiasts/snobs.  To appeal to this demographic DVDs were marketed with not only high quality picture and sound but they were presented in their original widescreen formats which was something that could only be found on certain special editions on VHS in special sections of the store,  there was also the opportunity to put behind the scenes features and audio commentaries so people can find out about as much about the making of a movie as they care to. 

As someone who had to hunt and scrounge for VHS widescreen editions of films this was great news for me. I could just buy a DVD and it'd always be in widescreen, no worries.  As the DVD format grew more and more popular a disturbing trend started to emerge.  When people started buying DVDs who weren't such film enthusiasts/snobs they bitched about certain aspects of it.  They didn't like the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen so Full Screen DVDs starting rearing their ugly heads. 

They also didn't care about the special features so much so editions were released without as many.  As a result there are numerous versions and editions of movies in which if you weren't careful you'd end up with one you didn't want.

Now Blu-Ray is rising through the ranks to replace DVDs.  It's still quite young and very much attempting to target the film snob demographic(for which I am grateful for).  The Alien Anthology which released last October was an alien nerds oasis, uncountable hours of behind the scenes, multiple audio commentaries, original quadraphonic sound mixes, over 12,000 photos, etc.  This is not something for someone who just wants to "watch the movie".  Visiting blu-ray internet forums there are numerous  debates on whether or not too much DNR was applied to the picture quality, or which film installment had the most faithful restoration, or which is lacking in the bonus features.

Star Wars is now offically on its way to be the big box set Blu-Ray of the year (possibly ever).  This will no doubt attract new comers to the Blu-Ray format.  This is where I get nervous, visiting the internet forums for the Star Wars Blu--Ray I'm not seeing the debate on how much DNR could or should be applied, no mention about multiple sound mixes.  Instead I see many people defending the special editions with updated special effects, they say that the star wars with the CGI jabba the hutt is the new original trilogy and people should stop bitching because the old one is gone forever.  This does not sound like the same group of that cried out in horror when the Predator Blu-Ray came out abundantly DNR'd.

I just do not believe that the same people who don't think DNR should exist at all would in the same breath argue that the special editions of Star Wars should be the only Star Wars.  It signifies to me that the average consumer is looking to come on board the Blu-Ray train.  Before long they'll start buying other Blu-Rays and we'll once again start to see dumbed down editions of some of our favorite movies.  Blu-Ray will no longer have to satisfy insatiable film lovers with excessive special features, the standards set by releases like the Alien Anthology will cease to exist.

Now I know all of this sounds like a stretch, and you might even call me crazy.  But that's ok, it's because I am!

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