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.


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…


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.


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.


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.


The Empire Strikes Back: Disney Purchases Star Wars

Disney Star Wars 2

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 13th November 2012.

On October 30, the Walt Disney Company announced that they would be acquiring Lucasfilm, home of the Star Wars franchise. George Lucas, creator of beloved characters such as Yoda, Darth Vader, C3PO and R2D2, as well as Jar Jar Binks, was apparently contemplating retirement and had four billion reasons to sell his company. The first reason was a dollar. The second reason was a dollar. And so on.

Come to think of it, when you want to retire in the Star Wars universe, don’t you just disappear into thin air like Yoda and Obi Wan? I guess it’s a bit hard to spend your retirement nest egg when you’re a smiling glowing ghost.

Almost immediately after the announcement, the internet went into hyperdrive with opinions, jokes and amusing pictures from fans worldwide. As I didn’t have the photoshop skills to add Mickey Mouse ears to a picture of Darth Vader (plus half of the planet had already done it) here’s my hilarious contribution to the twitterverse:

Peter Young @chipsareready

What would Disney possibly want with the Star Wars franchise? They already have the successful Black Hole property… #DisneyStarWars

For those of you who don’t speak Geek, I’m referring to Disney’s woeful 1979 Star Wars ripoff, The Black Hole, starring Anthony Perkins (Psycho) and Ernest Borgnine (McHale’s Navy), and featuring the rather craptastic robot duo of V.I.N.C.E.N.T. and Old B.O.B., as well as the Vader-ish Maximilian.

In my head, Disney and Star Wars have been closely linked for years. Way back in the early 90’s, I lined up for hours to ride the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland. One of the first motion simulator rides, Star Tours offered space tourists a trip to the forest moon of Endor which inevitably goes awry when Imperial Star Destroyers attack. The ride has since been closed and replaced last year with a new attraction, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, which incorporates high definition 3D graphics. Like all great intergalactic adventures, both the original and new Star Tours attractions end in the gift shop.

I don’t think Star Wars devotees have anything to worry about from the takeover by the (Disney) Empire. The Muppets have enjoyed a cinematic revival that satisfied long time fans under the House of Mouse. You also may have seen a small, low budget superhero flick called The Avengers earlier this year. And the name of the production company was…Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.

A new Star Wars movie, Episode VII, will be released in 2015. Screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) has been attached to the project with the director yet to be named. The rumour mill suggests that the storyline may involve characters from the original trilogy.

As a big Star Wars fan, I have no concerns with Disney producing further Star Wars instalments. It’s not as if Lucas was particularly successful with his woeful prequel trilogy. It would be hard for Disney to do any worse. As the Star Wars franchise passes from the control of one Empire to another, rest assured that one universal constant will remain. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together… It’s the pursuit of profit.

Fast Food Limbo: stupid queue systems

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 22nd november 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment this Tuesday, I’d like to have a rant.

I accidentally wandered into a popular fast food joint the other day to find that the traditional queuing system had been replaced by…I have no idea. I lined up in front of a register, as I have done since I was little and the food, for lack of a better word, came in foam boxes. Once my order was taken, I remained in my place, only to be asked to step aside for the person behind me.

Fair enough, but where was I supposed to go? If I move to the right, I’m in front of the next register. Same deal if I go to the left. I can’t go backwards either. There are people lined up behind me there. If I go forwards, I’ll need to put on an ill fitting uniform and work for minimum wage.

With no obvious place to go and no instructions forthcoming, I took a half step to the side and waited for…I have no idea. I didn’t have a number, RTA style, to play the “renew your driver’s licence bingo game”. I wasn’t even given one of those red flashing square things. And why exactly do they only flash red? Are there no other colours available?

They didn’t take my name either, like those expensive juice places. Buying a “tropical heavenly bliss” with extra wheatgrass is my only opportunity to use my real name, Shakespeare. And what’s with the crazy product names anyway? I’m buying a smoothie, not a state of consciousness.

I guessed that they would call out my order. The problem was, there are quite a few common combinations on the menu. Who ordered the unhappy meal? Ah, everyone?

Before I knew it, other hungry folk were lining up behind me to place their orders. I sheepishly explained that I wasn’t actually in a queue. I was in a kind of burger limbo.

When did the system change and exactly what are the new rules? I know from the TV ads that I inexplicably need to peel the sticker from the top right hand corner, but I don’t have a clue about how to get to my lunch.

Culturally, we’re taught from a very early age to queue up for things. From lining up at the school canteen for a sausage roll, space food stick and a packet of Burger Rings to passport control at the airport to waiting 2 hours to ride the Pepsi Max Big One roller coaster at Blackpool, the rules are the same.

When someone deviates from the traditional queuing system that is burnt into our brains, like the thankfully abandoned Orange Post Office alternating double queue system, people get confused.

I hate lining up for stuff as much as the next person, but at least I know where I stand, both literally and figuratively. Next time I feel the urge for junk food, I’ll take the drive through. At least I know how that works. Line up in the car, order and pay at the first window, pick up your order at the second window, and then drive home to find out that they forgot your fries. Simple.