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The DVD Dilemma…

I have a moral dilemma. Pixar’s Up is released in the United States next weekend. It has opened to nigh-universal praise at Cannes. My girlfriend is anticipating the film like nobody’s business. And we’ll have to wait five months to get to see it over here. By that stage, the DVD and Blu Ray will have been released in the United States.

So, should I feel guilty about wanting to import a legally purchased DVD or Blu Ray of a film that hasn’t arrived in cinemas yet?

You shouldn't have to trek halfway around the world to see Up...

You shouldn't have to trek halfway around the world to see Up...

On one hand, I want to see it in cinemas. I know Pixar and Disney want me to see it in cinemas too, because (despite the fact that DVD sales are always more profitable) it is box office that is used as a basis for labeling a film a smash or a flop.  But why should I have to wait because I happen to live several hours flight away? In the era of on-line media production and consumption, this would mean that I would miss the opportunity to join in.

Admittedly the problem is getting less severe these days, because studios are learning of the potential damage staggering releases so far apart can do. The threat of piracy means that big blockbusters arrive almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. On the other hand, there’s generally quite a gap with the quieter awards fare stuff. America’s award season in November/December, while we get them in January/February.

It is more pronounced with television though. My gran could import CSI directly from America before Living gets around to airing it. Hallmark were notoriously lax with House (and Sky doesn’t look to be much faster). Why watch it week-in, week-out when I can buy it on DVD and enjoy it at my own pace, quicker?

I do feel a little guilty when it comes to film, but it is all above board – the studio still gets the money – so it isn’t equivalent to piracy, which I would never condone. It’s perfectly legal, even if companies try to make it difficult with region-encoding. It seems like a lot of effort to go to when you have no reason not to open in every English-speaking market within a week or so. Any number of on-line retailers will sell the disks, but it may get you hit with tax if you’re importing from overseas.  Still, how much more expensive is a disk than a night at the cinema? A night at the cinema costs about €50 (all being told) for myself and the better half, so importing the disk and buying popcorn and drinks would be significantly cheaper.

Still, I feel uneasy. But not so uneasy that a few more positive reviews won’t push me to make that order.

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