Fox Strips Bonus Materials From DVD Rentals

fox color logo 300x260This news broke a few days, but due to St. Patrick’s Day I didn’t give it due attention. But in a post-Irish world, we can make sure you get the full story. Video Business is reporting that Fox Home Entertainment is dropping bonus material from its rental DVDs, forcing you to buy the retail version if you want to check out the deleted scenes, documentaries, commentaries, and so forth. This is all part of an effort to boost retail sales, hoping you buy instead of rent. The move is already common practice in many countries outside North America.

This is just the latest tactic by Fox, which has long been the bane of the movie consumer. In the late 1990s, Fox launched its way into the DVD world by charging more for its discs than any major studio while providing the least amount of content (and often non-anamorphic transfers). They were also one of the first studios to split releases into a virtually bare bones single disc edition and a more expensive multi-disc edition with extras. And when Blu-Ray rolled around, they again resumed their high priced ways, charging more per disc on average than any major studio. That was when they were releasing discs, as the studio disappeared from the scene for half of year in 2007 under the pretense of some lame excuse.

This new strategy will be implemented starting March 31 with the releases of Marley & Me and Best Picture Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire. Some other titles of note to follow include: The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Wrestler, Notorious, and Bride Wars. Of course, there are ways to work around Fox’s strategy. One is to rent the Blu-ray, which will contain everything the retail version does except for a digital copy of the film. There’s also nothing stopping any rental outlet from buying retail versions and renting them. Under the First Sale Doctrine of copyright law, Fox cannot enforce terms once an item is initially purchased. But major renters will likely want to stay in Fox’s good graces and receive discounted prices on future discs. Should this tactic work, no doubt other studios will follow this trend.

So keep an eye on what you rent, and in the future on what you buy used. You might not be getting everything you hoped for.