Fox To Remove Special Features From Rental DVDs

20th Century Fox

File this in your the “Yet another way Fox has found to inspire geek hate” folder: According to a report by VideoBusiness (Via CNet), 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is going to start stripping rental DVDs SKUs of special features like commentaries and featurettes, in a horrendously misguided attempt to spur retail DVD sales. Retail copies available for purchase will retain  all the special features. This policy will begin on March 31st, when DVD releases like Marley & Me, and Slumdog Millionaire will be subject to the features removal. Other Fox films such as The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Wrestler, and Notorious, will soon face the same fate.

It seems nobody is happy about this situation, including video store workers. According to one video store buyer in the VB article:

Can you imagine explaining this to all of your customers? People will think when they rent, it should have everything on it. And why shouldn’t it? This is just silly, and consumers aren’t going to be happy.

The move raises a number of issues. For example, how will the used DVD market be affected? More significantly, how will the policy affect Netflix, which typically allows you to rent special features discs (or discs with special features already on them)? Will Fox prevent Netflix from receiving the retail copies?

Since the First Sale Doctrine allows any copies purchased allows any retailer to rent a legally purchased copy of a movie, we may still see retail copies on video rental store shelves. Video Buyer’s Group president Ted Engen remarked:

There’s no question that some rentailers will go and buy from Wal-Mart and rent out the copies, and you can’t stop that. But it’s not going to be that big of an issue as people think. The main thing is that studios have to add value to get customers to buy, and they aren’t buying. Numbers have been falling through the floor.

I can understand Fox’s desire to stop the bleeding , but you don’t do that by taking value away from already-existing products and annoying your customers. Maybe instead, they should focus on creating discs with special features that will make them worth owning. In fact, I heard a rival studio is already doing some cool stuff with special features and tie-ins involving a small Zack Snyder film that was released last week…

Discuss: Will Fox’s removal of special features from rental DVDs cause you to buy DVDs instead of renting them?

[Thanks to /Film reader Egyptnation for the tip]

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