The concept of double-dipping has always been the bane of collectors and fans. It seems to have become more common in recent years. This is especially true of movies due to the increasing trend towards a two tier business model. So we have theatrical versions, unrated versions, director’s cuts and special collectors editions. There’s no end to creative ways in which a distributor will try to sell you the same shit more than once. Ask any Star Wars, Star Trek or James Bond fans about this issue and you will not get a pleasant response. Yet the sad fact is, we go along with it (willingly or not), because as fans they know how we think and our prior spending habits. Now although I said the “same shit”, we know that’s not the case and so do they. Any difference or additional material provides a selling point and that is our Achilles heel.
Brian and I were talking about forum rage the other day and how many times we had read about gamers that had been pushed “too far” by developers and were “gonna quit”, only to subsequently do the opposite and carry on because they couldn’t break a habit. It’s exactly the same with double-dipping movies and we have a prime example coming up in a couple of months. Namely the release of the theatrical edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This DVD and Blu-ray version will contain just the standard 169 minute release that we saw last December. The extras are nothing exceptional, yet if you absolutely must own a copy of the movie, as soon as its legally possible to do so, this is the way to go. However, in Q4 the extended edition of the film will be released containing a further twenty five minutes of material.
Now common sense may dictate to the casual reader to simply wait for the longer version. However that option is not necessarily viable for fans and collector’s. Completists may want both versions by their very nature. As for fans, I suspect that their enthusiasm is inversely proportional to their patience. So they’ll pay up front for the theatrical release (bitching about it is optional) and then work themselves into a complete phrenzy (and I have used an archaic variant here to make a point) until they can get their hands on the extended edition. In the meantime the suits and the money men sit in their volcano lair, in their swivel chairs, stroking a cat and laughing. Double-dipping works because fans believe they are over a proverbial barrel. If they are, then they put themselves in such a position. Retailers can only exploit a customer if the customer is willing to be exploited.
So, will you be buying the theatrical edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey or will you wait until later in the year? Do you rage about double-dipping or do you just accept it as an inevitability? As I mentioned earlier certain franchises seem to be on a continual treadmill of upgrades and new versions (yes I’m looking at you Star Trek, with your slow release of all shows to Blu-ray). The thing is fans do have a powerful means of protesting at their disposal and that is voting with their pockets. Unfortunately it is a somewhat nuclear option and requires going without, for a period of time. As for me, I abdicate any position on this issue because I’m hoping to be able to ponce a review copy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from the distributors. However until recently I did not have this option. Double-dipping is not something I can see going away soon. So what will you do?