Latest DVD screw-up: Heat

I have always been a big fan of movies, but I must say, the advent of the DVD has really tested my appreciation for the medium. Early on, most of the studios didn't have a clue what made for a good DVD. Over the years, most of them have figured it out, but there is always the occasional slip through the cracks, so to speak. Most of them come from Disney (i.e. their "back into the vault for 10 years" nonsense and DVD's that aren't scheduled for release until 2007), but a surprising number have recently come from Warner Brothers.

The first example was earlier this year, when I was in the market for one of my favorite movies, Goodfellas. I went to Amazon to see how their prices compared. To my shock, they were out of stock. I went to a few other places -- same thing, out of stock. Turns out, my timing was atrocious because Warner Brothers was about to release a special edition DVD, and had allowed themselves to run out of the other version. That meant I had to wait about two months to get the SE DVD, which I did. I actually wasn't upset about that. Two months without a DVD is not bad. However, my second example is much more egregious.

In September, I decided I was in the market for another one of my favorite movies, Heat. Not only does it feature two of my favorite actors, Pacino and DeNiro, together onscreen for the first (and I believe only) time, but it has a killer storyline with some really cool action sequences. So I went to Amazon to see how their prices compared. You guessed it -- out of stock. I went to a few other places -- yep, out of stock. As usual, my timing was atrocious. I assumed a special edition of this DVD was in the works as well. The only thing was, I couldn't find any evidence of it. Warner Brothers hadn't said a word about it. After a nearly two-month wait, Warner Brothers finally announced that they were indeed making an SE DVD of Heat, and that it would be released on February 22 of next year. Whoa whoa whoa... next year? Yeah, I know, it's not as far away as I make it sound, but keep in mind, I had been waiting two months already, and the original DVD had been taken out of distribution at least a month prior to that. That means that the Heat DVD will have been unavailable (aside from used copies) for approximately six months, possibly longer. What kind of business model is that? Wouldn't it make more sense to finish the SE DVD and set a release date first, then take the original out of distribution so that your customers can buy your product in the meantime?

I'm sure the SE DVD will be very well done, and that the wait will be worth it, but I'm not a big fan of SE DVD's coming out years after everyone has already bought the originals (I'm rarely inclined to buy a DVD a second time, no matter how many bells and whistles). Besides that, six months without the ability to buy a DVD, original or SE, is ridiculous.


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