Scene: me gleefully running home with a brand-spanking-new DVD to review, bounding along like an oversized, poorly shaven kid on Christmas morn’. Heard shortly thereafter: me cursing the heavens for being hoodwinked by a “15th Anniversary” copy of Edward Scissorhands that is identical to the 10th-anniversary release, except for a “special collectible tin including keepsake film photos” that disguises the packaging of five years ago.
Although the film itself may be great, it’s not like Fox’s DVD division had crafted an un-improvable digital-video masterpiece back in 2000. Identical means the lonely “featurette” is still nothing more than a four-minute puff piece; the “premium” video and audio transfer seems slightly above not-very-premium-at-all; the commentary is still Tim Burton’s bored and superfluous voice cutting in and out with random, broken snippets (as if it’s sooooo hard to come up with 100 minutes of comments about your “most personal work”); and the deleted scenes are still … well, there still are no deleted scenes. The writing was on the wall: I had come away with the not-so-rare bird known as the double dip.
The chosen vernacular for when a studio releases the same film on DVD more than once with different “editions,” the double dip is also a double-edged sword. For moviemakers and movie geeks, it’s a chance to feel like a winner, with more profits and a sense of superiority, respectively. For everybody else, the double dip is just a reason to feel like a big fat loser. When movie geeks see a DVD released with nary an extra feature in sight, they run to the Internet like they ran from the bullies in high school. They research the thing, reading fan Web sites and dirt sheets, and find out that, yes, a fully stocked version is planned for later this year. So they wait. And, gloating silently, they watch their friends buy the boring standard edition of, say, Sin City, knowing those poor saps have no idea that the recut/uncut edition is on its way just in time for Christmas. Ho, ho, ho, indeed.
Given how many fancy-pants re-releases run in the pricier end of the price range, multiple editions aren’t always all that annoying. Sure, America does love choice, and maybe John Q. Public just wants the ongoing privilege of plunking down a few extra big ones for a few extra features. But maybe he doesn’t. So take heed, friends: When the anniversary of your favorite movie rolls around, do your research first. You’ll probably find it’s better to hold out for the “Deluxe Edition.” Or possibly the “Ultimate Edition.” Or perhaps even the “So Ultimate it Vaporizes the Previous Ultimate Edition With a Tiny Laser When Placed Upon Your Shelf Edition.”