Deluxe Movie Packaging: same movie, bigger box

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 19th November 2013.    

Many moons ago, I spent a North American summer working as the World’s Oldest Camp Counsellor™. It was a rich kids’ camp and I will never forget parental unit visiting day. One of the campers in my cabin was handed a brand new music CD as a gift. He immediately took the disc out to play the inevitably horrible music contained within, throwing the case and liner notes in the bin, or trash in this instance. As a music collector I was shocked. Although the music is, obviously, the most important element, I love having my CDs stored in their cases on my bookshelf. Besides, how on earth would he know the names of the songs?

Fast forward to today and music CDs are practically an endangered species. However, when it comes to movies, the industry has shifted to the opposite extreme. Perusing the shelves at my favourite non-specific movie retailer and their online store on the weekend, it was hard not to notice that the emphasis is now on the packaging, not the film. Why buy just the film on your preferred format? You need to shell out the extra bucks for a fancy box too.

Here are my favourite deluxe editions that I am sure will be on many a Christmas wish list.

et

Remember everyone’s favourite alien? No, not Lady Gaga, I’m referring to E.T. Steven Spielberg’s sublime masterpiece hit shelves last year in beautiful high definition blu-ray to celebrate its 30th anniversary.  The movie on blu-ray can be picked up for a reasonable $13, but why stop there? For just an extra $150 you can get the film with a 26cm “collectible” replica of E.T.’s spaceship complete with flashing lights, music and moving parts. That’s a very expensive box. I’m sure a real spaceship wouldn’t cost much more. Maybe Clive Palmer will build me one if I ask nicely.

i robot

If more redundant films are your thing, how about I, Robot? Recently released in 3D (I’m not sure why), the disc will set you back about $30. For $120 more, you can buy the deluxe gift set which includes a full scale robot head bust. For that price, I don’t think anyone is getting a gift, except the film distributor. Forgettable film, unforgettable packaging…

breaking-bad-series-on-blu-ray

Everyone seems to love Breaking Bad at the moment. Having recently completed a brilliant 5 season run, the complete series will be released later this month on blu-ray for around $150.  Add an extra $85 and you can get your hands on the very same discs, stored in a replica money barrel, as well as a commemorative coin and apron. What, no replica crystal meth too?

The X-Men franchise has vacuumed up over $1 billion worldwide. This Christmas, you can add to this total by purchasing the Adamantium Collection. That’s six discs (5 of them already available as budget titles) stored in a weird looking stand which features a replica of Wolverine’s bladed fist for $170. Please note that only right handed versions are available. I don’t know about you, but I have enough trouble keeping my discs scratch free without storing them in a box with claws.

predator3D-1024x905

I probably should mention the Predator 3D deluxe edition which comes with a predator’s head and the Under the Dome limited edition set with the discs stored (wait for it) under a dome. For true fans of the show, the dome should be sealed so you can’t open it.

under_the_dome_limited_collectors_edition

As a cinephile, I’m all about the films, not the elaborate packaging. I’m (mostly) with the summer camp kid on this one. Just give me the movie in a boring old case. The film should take me to other places and worlds, not the box.

‘Cause you gotta buy Faith

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 4th January 2011.

This year will see the re-release of George Michael’s iconic solo debut Faith. Originally released way back in 1987 to critical and popular acclaim, the album spawned many memorable hit singles such as Faith, I Want Your Sex, Father Figure, Monkey and Kissing a Fool. With sales in Australia exceeding 350000 copies (that’s five times platinum) and twenty million copies shipped worldwide, there are plenty of us out there who might be nostalgic enough to replace our worn out cassette and vinyl editions with the remastered and repackaged CD editions.

Faith was a truly solo effort from the former Wham! frontman. Not only did he write and produce every track bar one on the album, he also played almost every instrument. Amusingly, this probably wasn’t much different to his Wham! days as it is alleged Michael’s partner in crime and “guitarist”, Andrew Ridgeley, usually had his instrument turned right down, Linda McCartney style, during live performances. I guess at the time, we also thought he was singing about women, but that’s a different story.

To help George earn back all of the money he spent on his extended Australian holiday after his tour of Perth, Sydney and Melbourne last year (Grindr must be expensive), you’ll have the choice of the standard remastered 2 disc edition, the 2 disc plus DVD deluxe edition and for the ultimate fan, the super deluxe collectible edition, complete with a vinyl copy of the album, sleeve notes, rare pictures, replica tour pass and a hardcover book.

I’m not entirely certain why, with the exception of financial reasons, Sony or George Michael would choose to celebrate Faith’s twenty fourth anniversary and not wait another year for the quarter century. With this dubious timeframe, let’s have a look at some other albums that are also celebrating their pewter anniversary (there is no symbol for the twenty fourth so I made one up) and also deserve the remastered super mega deluxe and a cherry on top edition treatment.

INXS’s Kick is easily their best recording to date. Fusing their previous rock sound with a dance groove, they used the power of the music video to sell millions of albums on the back of such strong singles as Need You Tonight, Devil Inside, New Sensation and Never Tear Us Apart. Now sadly languishing around the nostalgia scene with multiple best of compilations on the market as well as a dodgy reinterpretations album, INXS have become their own cover band. A deluxe double disc edition of Kick was released in 2004 to celebrate its (drum roll please) seventeenth anniversary.

John Mellencamp, then John Cougar Mellencamp, also released The Lonesome Jubilee in 1987. A rock, folk and country hybrid, it produced the hit singles Cherry Bomb and Paper in Fire. With steel guitars, accordions and violins featured, this album pioneered the country rock sound that led the way for Shania Twain, Taylor Swift and Cameron Daddo. A remastered edition of The Lonesome Jubilee with a whole one extra song was released in 2005 (its eighteen anniversary).

Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust was ranked by Rolling Stone as the thirteenth best album of the eighties. With a strong environmental theme and a focus on the plight of the Aboriginal communities, this concept album was spearheaded by the singles Put Down That Weapon and Beds Are Burning. On its twenty first anniversary in 2008, a remastered edition of the album was released with a bonus documentary DVD. Personally, I think the Oils should follow George Michael’s example and celebrate its twenty fourth anniversary with a deluxe edition including some actual diesel and dust, plus a bonus insulation bat.

The demise of the vinyl album also saw the death of the gatefold sleeve and all the pictures, notes and goodies that came with it. There’s not much you can say in a CD booklet. Great albums deserve to be celebrated and polished up for re-release but perhaps only at significant milestones. Deluxe editions allow collectors and fans to access B sides, demo versions and memorabilia (at a price) but don’t wish too hard, 2011 sees the tenth anniversary of Nikki Webster’s Follow Your Heart album.

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 19:34  Comments (1)  
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