January 3, 2009

Written by Matt Goldberg

UPDATE: There seems to be two misconceptions from this article that I would like to clear up. First, features like the homage-o-meter aren’t going to be on the “How to Lose Friends” Region 2 DVD. Those were just examples Pegg was providing from his previous DVD releases. What’s on the Region 2 DVD but not Region 1 are deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a gag reel, and video diaries. Second, this is not a set-up for a double-dip stateside. As far as all parties are concerned, at this point, there are no plans for a second, full-featured Region 1 DVD release of “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”. If you want the goodies, you got to get the R2 DVD.

It isn’t often that a director will ask fans NOT to buy a DVD of their film. After all, good DVD sales translates into future work for that director. But what if you made a killer DVD and the studio said, “No, thanks”? Such is the case with the upcoming DVD release for director Robert B. Weide’s movie “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” starring Simon Pegg.

Posting on his MySpace blog, Pegg writes about all the cool features that will be missing from the U.S. DVD, saying:

I was very disappointed when I heard about the lack of extra features on the US DVD of How To Lose Friends And Alienate people, particularly when Bob and I went to great lengths to ensure they were available. I, together with Edgar Wright and our team, have always strived to make our DVDs worth buying by loading them with extra content. We even invented never before seen DVD extras such as the Homage-o-meter, the Plot Holes comic strips and the trivia track, such was our desire to make the finished product indispensable. On projects where my responsibility was solely as an actor, I have strived to suggest content and have always been slightly ashamed of the discs that offer little. With HTLF Bob Weide, a man at pains to collaborate and achieve the very best he possibly can, was adamant that we work together to produce a DVD that offered a completist’s overview of the finished piece, having devoured the content on the Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz DVDs respectively. It actually became a catchphrase on set and in the edit when anything went wrong or had to be left out. So many times, I heard Bob invoke the mantra “thank god for DVD extras.”

Whether or not you liked the movie, you have to admit that those are some creative features. Furthermore,when a film that didn’t kill at the box office puts in that kind of effort, then larger releases need to step up since the fans are clamoring to go into greater depth with the film. So why remove all of this stuff? Is the economy in such poor shape that we’re charging by the megabyte?

In a press release (also posted on Simon’s blog), Weide explains:

“It boils down to sloppiness and apathy. All of the material was absolutely cleared for all territories. There were just too many cooks in the kitchen and the left hand failed to communicate with the right hand. The ball was gently placed in those hands, and they dropped it.” Weide reports that he sent numerous e-mails to those charged with integrating the bonus material, offering to clear up any problems or questions they might run into along the way. “The responses I received were somewhat dismissive, until they finally wrote me saying ‘thank you’… they had all the material in hand. I later found out they never obtained it. If they had told me the truth, I would have had the tapes on their desk within 24 hours.” Weide says that by the time the truth was revealed, MGM told him that “The ship had sailed,” meaning the DVD replication had already taken place, and there was no going back.

Weide’s request that fans not buy the Region 1 DVD doesn’t stem from a place of retaliation or bitterness. It’s just common sense: why should you reward a studio for making a DVD that’s missing content? It would be one thing if that content never existed but unless they’re planning some crazy double-dip special edition, then it makes no sense to give these extras to Region 2 DVDs but not Region 1. Weide suggests that you should pick up a region-free player and I have to say that it’s not a bad suggestion. The Onion’s AV Club just released a list of great flicks that you can’t get here in the states if you don’t import.

As for Pegg and Weide, I’m sorry that their hard work will go mostly unseen here in the states but you can always rent and with so many ways to rent DVDs these days (Netflix, OnDemand, etc.), maybe studios shouldn’t skimp on great DVD extras when they’re readily available.

To be tempted into buying a region-free player and importing “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People”, click here.

Latest News