Movie Studios Blocking Special Features On Rental DVDs

In an apparent effort to give customers a reason to buy DVDs instead of renting them, movie studios have begun disabling certain features of new releases on discs rented out by Blockbuster and Netflix.

Consumerist reader Joseph brought this to our attention after he spent $3.99 to rent the DVD of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World from Blockbuster. When he went to the disc’s main menu and attempted to watch the Blooper Reel special feature, he was greeted by a screen telling him: “This disc is intended for rental purposes and only includes the feature film. Own it on Blu-Ray or DVD to view these bonus features and complete your movie watching experience.”

Over at HackingNetflix, they have the same report from a reader who rented the disc from Netflix. The site also claims that the Netflix version of the disc for hit Disney/Pixar film Up contains no captions for the same reason.

Let’s go back to a frustrated Joseph for his final thoughts:

I didn’t pay $3.99 to just watch the movie itself; I paid $3.99 to rent the physical DVD for a week. To have full access to the entire DVD and everything contained within the menus. What made it worse was that Blockbuster gave me absoutely no warning that the DVD had its Special Features locked. There was no warning label or sticker or anything of the sort.

Should rental companies be alerting customers that the special features are blocked on these discs?


Edit Your Comment

  1. ssaoi says:

    They have been doing this for a while now.

  2. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Very sneaky, but the pirates will probably get on board with this, again demonstrating that honest users get screwed and criminals obtain a superior version.

    • b612markt says:

      “honest users get screwed and criminals obtain a superior version.”


      • DerangedKitsune says:

        I have to agree there.

        I’ve been on a real rental kick the last little while (Blockbuster Canada, unlimited Favorites rentals for $10/month, woot!) and the rental exclusive copies are starting to piss me off — even a lot of the the newer movies that are still retail copies are doing the same — with their unskippable trailers and advertisements (yes, I know how much better blu-ray looks! This is a blu-ray DISC that I rented, you git thing! Now skip, damn you). Really, when it takes me >5 min of loading time, plus pressing chapter skip around a dozen times, and then dealing with a long, unskippable menu just to begin the damned movie (and have the deal with the retarded disclaimers and FBI warnings), that does make me appreciate the simplicity of piracy more and more.

        I can sit there and be told what a bad, bad man I am for considering piracy (and then be treated as a walking wallet by being advertised to) for several min, or I can actually BE a bad, bad man and get to the goal of watching the movie right away… yeah, that’s becoming less and less of a tough decision nowadays.

        • thebt1 says:

          it’s pretty hard to sell something by berating your customers. if the movie studios want people to buy it rather than download load it from bittorent, they have to provide some extra convenience that you can’t get elsewhere. they are doing the opposite here, making it harder for people who pay for the dvd, though not in retail. they are shooting themselves in the foot, and have no pity for them.

    • DanRydell says:

      WTF does this have to do with piracy?

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Be honest and rent a disc temporarily = get shafted.
        Be dishonest and download an ISO for free = free full-featured disc

        • DanRydell says:

          So because some people are willing to pirate movies, that makes it wrong to differentiate between the rental version of a movie and the retail version? That makes no sense. Why should it be wrong for a company to market their product a particular way simply because someone is willing to steal it? You’re pointing your finger at the wrong people here. The problem isn’t that movie studios offer rental companies a cheaper version of the disc that is acceptable to MOST people, or that rental companies are willing to buy those discs to save money. The problem is that people are willing to pirate another person’s work, and that makes the legitimate options less attractive.

          • Beeker26 says:

            No, it’s because the movie studios are trying to force people to buy discs they don’t want by purposely gimping rentals and not letting anyone know they’re getting a featureless product. So lets say there is a DVD I want to watch once, and I definitely want to see all the features. I’m sure as shit not gonna buy it for $20 only to watch it once. And since I can’t rent it and get all the special features I guess I’ll download it for free, cause buying the disc is NOT going to be an option. See how that works?

            If rental companies are going to offer up these featureless discs they need to make damned sure it’s noted on the packaging or the webpage exactly what you’re getting.

            • NeverLetMeDown says:

              “And since I can’t rent it and get all the special features I guess I’ll download it for free, cause buying the disc is NOT going to be an option.”

              So, because they don’t offer the product that YOU want, you feel the right to get it yourself without paying? That makes no sense.

              • OnePumpChump says:

                I suspect that there are few things that make sense to you.

              • Erik Hughes says:

                >So, because they don’t offer the product that YOU want, you feel the right to get it yourself without paying? That makes no sense.

                Here are your options for watching that disc:
                1. Buy it retail
                2. Rent the gimped version.
                3. Download the full version for free.

                Now, while it’s not making the studios the most money, being able to rent the movie from Netflix is the most convenient option for many people. At least they are getting some money out of it. If they drive more people to option 3, Netflix won’t need to buy as many copies, and even more people get used to downloading full (good) versions and keeping them. How does this make sense?

                • saerra says:

                  You forgot two fabulous options!

                  4. Rent it from the library. For free. Not sure if they buy the gimpy versions or not, but even if they do… you still see the movie for free.

                  5. Buy it used. Get the real version, cheaper than retail, and without putting more money into the pockets of those purposefully gimping the rental product.

                  • Beeker26 says:

                    And how does either of these benefit the movie studio compared to an illegal download? The library is free so there are no royalties, and buying it used means I’m giving money to a private party. In all three cases the movie studio sees nothing. So why should I expend extra time and energy running to the library (only to find they don’t have the movie I want or that it’s so badly scratched it won’t play) or buy it used (still more expensive than a rental, no guarantee of condition, having to wait many days for it to be shipped) when I can just download it in a few clicks? If the movie studio gets nothing anyway it shouldn’t matter right?

                    Unless it’s moral issue. And then, well, I just don’t care. Morals are great for when you’re dealing with other people, not billion dollar industries that don’t give a rat’s ass about how badly they treat you.

          • hanoverfiste says:

            How is it a cheaper disc? It costs the same amount of pennies to produce it whether it has 5 minutes or 4 hours of material.

            It actually creates additional cost for them to master additional version that says features are locked. I wouldn’t be surprised that they are so lazy that it is still on the disc and it can be hacked to view.

            The pirates will still have buy the full version to be able to share it…

            Somewhere in the fine print blockbuster might disclose this.

            • Beeker26 says:

              If you strip out most of the features they can often fit the movie on a single layer disc instead of a dual layer disc. Mastering costs are really cheap these days, so that’s not an issue. Since they are charging rental outlets less for these versions it’s in their best interests to make their cost as little as possible.

          • junip says:

            You’re looking at this through your “everyone should do the right thing” fuzzy goggles instead of actual reality. It’s simply a bad business plan for them to penalize people who rent the movies by excluding features. Aside from any extras, the subtitles are also disabled. Meaning they just lost a very large group of customers who are deaf or hard of hearing because renting the movies will be totally worthless, and the people who want to rent are the ones who won’t want to spend $20/movie for something they’ll only watch once.
            Aside from that scenario, the simple fact of the matter is, downloading movies is really really easy. With a business plan like this, they’ve just given their audience yet another reason to see downloading as more beneficial than doing things the legal way.
            As it stands now, the rental experience goes a little like: pay some mone, watch 10 minutes of commercials before the disc will let you get to the title menu, find out all the extras are disable and feel like you’ve been swindled because there was no indication of this when you rented the movie. The industry is trying to make money by taking customers hostage, but it’s not going to work.

        • thebt1 says:

          I hope more people do pirate this. if they are going to mistreat customers, why should I actually spend money on them. and, no, file sharing and the traditional notion of theft (before the MPAA and RIAA brainwashed the masses) are not the same.

      • baconsnake says:

        Because if you download an .iso of the disc, you will get the retail disc in its entirety. But by doing the “right thing” and renting it, you are left with an experience that is less complete than pirating it, and it costs more to boot.

    • ecwis says:

      You don’t have to be a criminal to be a pirate.

  3. raygun21 says:

    Wonder if the ADA crowd will go after Disney/Pixar for limiting access to users who rent Up and require captions? That’s a juicy lawsuit waiting to happen, especially in California as you can actually be awarded damages in ADA actions.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      I would hope so. I would never rent a DVD if it did not have captions. Taking them out should definitely be an ADA lawsuit waiting to happen.

      However, Verizon does the same thing with their free on-demand programs. They are the same programs that are on broadcast but with different advertisements and NO CAPTIONS, even though the broadcast version had captions. Typical. This is a big reason why I never use Verizon on-Demand. Even the PAY on-demand movies do not have captions, so why would anyone even pay for them??

    • redskull says:

      You don’t need to be deaf to want the captions. I use them a lot when the sound effects overlap the dialog or the actors just aren’t enunciating very well. And when my furnace comes on and drowns out the audio.

      • ames says:

        Yes, but someone who is Deaf has a stronger claim than someone who has a loud furnace.

        • mobiuschic42 says:

          “Deaf” only gets a capital “D” when you’re talking about the community ( If you’re just talking about hearing impaired people, use the lower-case “d” deaf.

          Sources: Half deaf and with immediate family members who are deaf, but we’re not Deaf. ;)

          • FrugalFreak says:

            I’m hard of hearing and captions should be mandatory. few things that need improving;
            1. Captioning on all mass media(anything by major studios, Broadcasters, businesses whose businesses is renting, offering online like netflix).
            2. Captions over HDMI, If captions can’t be passed with that standard, it ought not be the standard.
            3. Captioning on mobile phones.

            I really hope one day everyone affected can organize and take legal class action, not for money but for access with harsh penalty for intentional “mistakes”. Captioning is never a BONUS, it is integral much like the dialogue in the film.

    • Billy says:

      Video rentals for private showings don’t fall under any ADA guidelines.

    • Donathius says:

      Disney actually admitted that the lack of captions on the rental version of Up was a mistake. I don’t know if they’ve replaced the discs or anything yet, but they did own up to it.

    • OnePumpChump says:

      Say “fuck the deaf” all you want, they can’t hear you, nor can the blind see you giving them the finger.

    • ClaudeKabobbing says:

      Captions Work!!!

    • Ayanami says:

      Easy fix, go to google and type in”how to use bittorrent.” Issue averted.

    • davids says:

      If this was a mistake (making captions a “special buy-only feature”) then it’s just a mistake.

      If not, it’s essentially a TAX on a specific class of people. I often use captions because I am hard of hearing — not deaf, but I have always had trouble with speech in noisy environments or soundtracks. So, if this isn’t a mistake, I have to pay $25 for a movie instead of renting it for $1 from RedBox? That is not fair at all.

      Captions are one reason I don’t often stream Netflix, but I do use Hulu now that Hulu has caption support. Perhaps someday Netflix will catch up to Hulu!

      Bad Disney, bad!

  4. shepd says:

    So, they are basically identical to the pirated edition now, just full of unskippable ads and of lower resolution. And those without captions are worse than the pirated edition.

    Hollywood is S-M-R-T.

    • Rena says:

      You can usually find rips of the full retail versions, so these are actually worse than the pirated versions. Good job giving people yet another incentive to download movies, guys!

  5. chargerRT says:

    No captioning on some rental DVD’s that would normally have them? There’s something very wrong with that. I don’t know if it’s specifically an ADA issue, but it’s wrong nonetheless.

  6. Corinthos says:

    Noticed this for awhile too. Most the time it has something like Rental copy at the top of the dvd case. I have yet to see a bluray one though.

  7. CBenji says:

    Good God, what more do these people want from us? Sorry, but it will be a cold day in hell before I will buy there stupid movie, and most of the time I wasn’t going to watch their dumb blooper reel anyway. Who wants to watch them stutter over something over and over again which is all it usually is. I say screw them. No wonder people pirate.

    • redskull says:

      I’m not sure I understand your anger– you’re mad that they’re restricting the features, but you wouldn’t have watched them anyway?

    • CBenji says:

      I don’t watch the bloopers, yes, but I am annoyed that they are taking something away from people who would enjoy them. I figure they charge enough for licensing rights as it is, and that does annoy me. These people make millions and millions of dollars and that angers me, and they just seem to come of with ideas of ways they can make more constantly. I have no intention of giving them more. I don’t normally buy DVD’s, and bloopers or the DVD extras are not something I can say I have ever clicked on. I should have gone to film school I guess. Kicks herself!!

      • Miss Emeryn says:

        Not necessarily. My brother-in-law is a screenplay writer and occasionally has to pick up a second job because of how little they make. Box office and DVD/Blu-Ray sales help him a lot. When you pirate, it isn’t the studio/rich that suffer. The copy writers, make up artists, and the like suffer much more.

  8. Rocket80 says:

    I’ve noticed this with my netflix dvd’s for a while – sucks, but not enough to make me stop using netflix, or to actually make me buy dvd’s.

  9. UltimateOutsider says:

    I don’t care about special features or deleted scenes, etc, but omitting captions when they were included on the retail discs is just plain wrong. I’m sure Netflix and Blockbuster have hearing-impaired customers.

    Another thing I’ve noticed with rental-only discs is some of them have unskippable trailers (I’ve gotten at least two like this in the past year). You can’t press Menu or skip to the next trailer- all remote buttons except STOP are disabled; you have to sit through the whole thing unless you know a hack for your DVD player to go straight to the movie.

    Omitting captions and forced trailers are yet more things that can drive legitimate customers/renters to pirated wares. The file sharing community has been providing and translating captions for ripped DVDs for years.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      And they keep moaning about piracy when their own actions are a big incentive to get pirated versions.

    • Pam in Oregon says:

      Omitting the captions would make me, (a person with severe hearing loss who wears hearing aids and depends on the captions to fully understand all that is said) very unhappy. If I find this to be the case, I will definitely be letting the powers that be know my feelings and it will NOT cause me to send my dollars their way by purchasing those same movies to get a REASONABLE accomodation that I should be entitled to.

    • Murph1908 says:

      It’s not just rentals. My son’s Thomas DVD that we bought and paid for has several commercials for other products at the beginning of the disk.

      Though these are skippable by selecting Next Chapter, you can’t bypass them by going to Main Menu. So you are stuck going Next Next Next Next Next Next Next, and getting a second or 2 of Bob the Builder, Barney, and others every time you put the disk in.

      To top it off, once you get to the main menu, the first thing you hear is, “For your convenience, this DVD…” It’s like a slap in the face every time. Damn you, HiT Entertainment!

      • FuzzyWillow says:

        This is where ripping the DVD to your HD is critical. When my daughter started watching tv/movies about 5 years go, I got tired of loading DVDs for her and having to skip though previews, commercials etc.

        Now everything is ripped to network attached storage. She can watch anywhere in the house with just a mouse click. Seriously – the movie industry (For that matter the TV industry also) is killing the goose that layed the golden eggs. Just like radio does – with TOO MANY COMMERCIALS.

    • finbar says:

      I too hate the force-watch previews. I’ve had some luck fast-forwarding through the previews when it won’t allow you to skip, and my DVD player is pretty pld school and janky.

    • hansolo247 says:

      That’s why you should buy a player that ignores P-UOPs and silly little things like HDCP.

      • Murph1908 says:

        Can you? I would buy one today.

        • Rena says:

          A PC with an open-source player such as VLC will do it, but good luck getting the disc to actually read. Most times it mysteriously won’t read at all in my PC yet plays fine in a standalone player…

          • Rena says:

            (I should clarify, other discs – data, older movies, movies that don’t have any of this kind of nonsense (usually imported from Japan) play just fine. There’s nothing wrong with the drive.)

    • lim says:

      Some you can hit stop a few times then play and it will go to the dvd menu, but some DVDs have begun disabling everything except the power button at startup.

      I figure that Hollywood is very concerned that I get the dishes put away, the laundry folded and have gone to the bathroom, because I know they don’t expect me to sit there and watch that crap.

    • thomwithanh says:

      VLC Media Player ignores UPO’s (user prohibited operations) which block out things like pressing DVD menu during the trailers

  10. Scurvythepirate says:

    So what happens when companies like Blockbuster (blah) try to sell off all their used rentals? Would it be illegal since the disc is intended for rental purposes only?

    • pf3 says:

      No, the key word is intended.

    • Span_Wolf says:

      I bought a used movie once at BB and the box said 2 disk special edition, but only had 1 disk in it when I got home. I went back and made them give me back a few dollars to make up for the lack of the bonus content disk.

    • dvdchris says:

      No, it’s not illegal, but usually there is a destroy percentage the store must fulfill on these copies, leaving them with precious few copies to sell after the film is no longer new.
      The whole point of making these rental copies is to kill the used DVD market.

    • exconsumer says:

      That’s not illegal. It might be a tort, on the part of Blockbusker. If you sell me a brick and tell me never to use it as a doorstop, it’s not illegal for me to take it home and use it as a doorstop, I’d never go to jail. But if I signed a contract stating that I’d never use it as a doorstop as a condition of the sale, you may be able to take me to civil court to collect whatever losses you incurred from my improper use of the brick.*

      The same is true for these ‘rental only’ DVDs. Blockbuster might get sued, but you’re in the clear. The whole ‘not for retail sale’ message on so many thing things has almost no legal meaning whatsoever (on top of being nearly gibberish).

      *In which case you might have a very difficult time demonstrating any material losses. IF you sold the brick for profit, you’re probably out of options, which is appropriate: you shouldn’t be able to tell someone else what to do with their property (for the most part). Even if you made it.

  11. dolemite says:

    At some point..they have to realize – most of us simply do not want a 3,000 movie collection on a format that is going to become outdated in 10 years. Once I watch a movie…I’m good for like 10-20 years unless it’s on my top 10 movie list (rare). 99% of movies aren’t worth buying. No matter if they delay the release by 30 days, 30 months, remove the special features, put in the most obtrusive DRM..I’m STILL not buying your movie! And no, I don’t torrent or pirate anything.

    • DJSeanMac says:

      We can’t be alone in this, as I’ve noticed the space reserved for physical discs of all kinds continue to shrink at Wal Mart and Costco, etc. It would suck for Suncoast if they were still in business.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’ll buy a movie I really enjoy and will want to watch a lot, but most movies don’t qualify. And even then, I’ll wait til it’s a really good deal until I buy it on blu-ray. I’d rather not buy movies that will just sit on a shelf.

  12. Beeker26 says:

    Wouldn’t this be some kind of fraud? Does the box/website list the special features? If so they are advertising something they aren’t delivering.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      These are rental discs, not the ones for purchase. In the past, people assumed that they were the same copy as the DVD you can buy, but now you can’t assume the same thing anymore.

      • Beeker26 says:

        But my point is if they web page or product box lists that the disc contains features, yet the disc doesn’t, isn’t that the definition of false advertising? Shouldn’t matter if it’s a rental or not, you’re still paying for something and not getting it as advertised.

      • SabreDC says:

        Except when I go to Blockbuster, they typically have the retail case on the shelf for your to read. They present them as the retail version. It’s not that people assume they are the same as retail.

        What’s next, the company providing a 10 minute, 300×480 resolution snippet of the film in a Blu-Ray case with a message saying “If you want to see the complete film in Blu-ray, please purchase”?

  13. fatediesel says:

    Fox started doing this in March 2009, and most studios quickly followed suit. This is in no way a new issue. I know on some movies Blockbuster used to have rental edition marked on the case, but I don’t know if they do now since I haven’t stepped foot in one of their stores in over a year.

  14. DanRydell says:

    This has been happening for a long time, and the rental places COULD buy the full version if they want. They buy these versions because they’re cheaper. They should provide a warning though.

    • Bye says:

      Completely untrue.

      • axhandler1 says:

        The first one of you to post a citation supporting your claim wins.

        • nigel_t says:

          DanRydell is correct. Doctrine of first sale applies to home videos. Video stores are free to walk into Best Buy and get full featured disks for their customers.
          NEBG, LLC v. Weinstein Company Holdings, LLC, Mass. May 18, 2007

  15. GrayMatter says:

    Meh! The added stuff was put in initially to get you to buy the disk after you already purchased the VHS tape. So you don’t get all the toys. So what? You got the movie. Isn’t that what you wanted?

    No captions? THAT is simply wrong! Although, I an wondering if they simply removed the captions to eliminate the alternative languages that many disks had.

    • coren says:

      Not so much to lure sales of people who bought the vhs as much as to get them to buy instead of the vhs. Plus the features make it easier to justify a higher price poiint

  16. devilsadvocate says:

    Special features ok, whatever. Sub-titles really? How about they just have sound and a blank screen. I don’t get it. What a world when making millions of dollars even with all the pirating and illegal downloads isn’t enough.

  17. Gravitational Eddy says:

    That’s right Hollywood.
    Treat your potential customers badly.
    This ALWAYS works.
    How greedy can you be.
    In all reality, I’m surprised they didn’t do this back asswards, you know, block the main movie and just let you see the extended promo for the movie. Instead of the actual movie.

    And yet, you clowns can’t figure out that this will
    give the people you call pirates another reason to -steal- from you.

    • shepd says:

      And I thought being unjustly accused of stealing instead of piracy was enough to encourage the pirates.

      “Hey, you murdered that woman.”
      “Uhhh… No… I wasn’t looking when I was turning right and bumped her. She said she was okay, I said I was sorry, and we went our separate ways. I’m glad she was so reasonable about it. I could have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.”
      “Wow. Here’s a dictionary. Please, read it.”
      “Hmmm, it isn’t and you’re bordering on slander now…”

      • Geekybiker says:

        Such a tired argument to justify immoral acts. As far as I’m concerned downloading illegal material is theft. Maybe not by a legal definition, but by the “Taking stuff that doesn’t belong to your” common usage. Sharing content doesn’t really fit the common usage of theft though, and its the real issue legally in piracy.

        • crazedhare says:

          Ugh, you just stole the 1 minute of my life it took to read that drivel, and probably wasted the last moments of a few neurons as well. I’m going to nail you to the wall with litigation for theft and assault. I’ll bury you with red tape and extort tens of thousands of dollars for you. And it will be fair, since, after all, I say you stole from me and assaulted me.

        • shepd says:

          Yup, exactly, I totally agree. Charles Manson isn’t a murderer, he just stole lives. I mean, how much time would you normally get for a few counts of petty theft (since we can’t put a price on life)? 2, 3 months tops, maybe a fine of $750 a count (bonus points to those who know where that number comes from)? Let him out of prison already, the worst he’ll do is steal again. He’s probably learnt his lesson.

          Seriously, if you want to abuse the language, you need to be willing to understand that you’ll look stupid doing it and people will take your argument to absurdity.

        • thebt1 says:

          for there to be theft, there has to be a loss. a speculative loss of profits, is not a true loss, because 1. the studio is in the same position they were before you downloaded the movie and 2. they cannot prove that you would have bought it, so they don’t even know if they lost profits. it may be “illegal” but that’s only because the corporations have managed to buy out our congress and brainwash people to parrot their lines for them. as long as they treat customers like this, i’ll be fine on bittorent.

      • thebt1 says:

        yes, because downloading a movie and murder are the same. you have to try harder.

  18. StutiCebriones says:

    One interesting point here is that it says seeing these features in a movie theater — where there are no bonus features — won’t “complete your movie watching experience.”

  19. LightningUsagi says:

    You should’ve bought the movie in the first place. It’s an epic of epic epicness (and quite good to boot).

  20. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    The captions missing sucks. “Bonus Features” are usually a waste of space, though.

    BTW, does anyone know if the captions and features are Disabled, OR Missing altogether?

  21. lolBunny says:

    What about when they sell their extra rental DVDs as pre-viewed? Since someone is buying the DVD at that point would the company unlock the features? This just turns me off to setting foot in a Blockbuster to rent or buy a discounted pre-viewed movie….

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      This is probably the final nail in Blockbuster’s coffin. Now it can’t even resell previously viewed DVDs from its broken shell of a store. I remember back in the day, Netflix sold previously viewed DVDs – it stopped doing that pretty quickly, probably because the studios started leaving out content or pressing rental versions.

      • wenhaver says:

        Hollywood video by me was having a going out of business sale, and there were a few blu-rays I would have picked up except they were stamped RENTAL copy, and had all the special features locked. Well, I saw *both* those movies in the theater (the 2 I had seen that year, actually), and really wanted the special features.

        I’ll just wait for them to get down to $10 a piece at Amazon, and have the full release. Jerks. Made me glad they were going out of business.

      • dvdchris says:

        Yep, this is in fact impacting rental stores used disc sales. There is usually a destroy percentage the store has to fulfill on these as well, up to 90% of the copies purchased must be destroyed after the revenue share term is up. This leaves stores with precious few discs to sell after the film is no longer new.

  22. evilpete says:

    I suspect a part of it is also to make the DVD cheaper (and perhaps more resistant to damage) by reducing the contents to fit on a single layer

  23. Gman says:

    Yah been happening for a while. But at least in my case this is having the exact opposite effect.
    It makes me want to buy the DVD/Blu-Ray even less both out of spite [Still really, really pissed off at the UP rental fiasco*] and also b/c as time goes on special features mean less and less to me.

    I don’t get them already with streaming or iTunes downloads. So taking them out of my rental DVD’s does not bug me as much as it used to.

    *Some versions of the Netflix UP Rentals not only had no special features, captions or language options, but mine would not let you skip or fast forward through the trailers and very, very long “buy the dvd” mini movie.

  24. Not Given says:

    They violate the ADA if they take away the captions.

    How do I know if I want to buy the dman thing if I cna’t see the f’in special features.

    • A.Mercer says:

      Not sure about that. My mom is constantly having to check any movie she buys or rents to make sure it has captions. More than half of the time she can’t watch the movie because it lacks captions. It does not seem like they are required to put captions on the movies or else she would not have to bother checking.

      Now, if the case states it is captioned and you get home with it and put it in and find the captions disabled then you might have a case of some sort.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You can always look on Amazon or another retailer’s website.

  25. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Meh…I can’t say that I’ve ever had any interest in the “special features” on any disk anyway.

    But it is maybe one more reason that drives would-be legitimate consumers to piracy…since it increasingly becomes the better choice.

  26. Bobby Creek Water says:

    When will we as consumers stop allowing this BS to happen? This is terrible on the part of the movie studies and I’ve noticed this before as well.

  27. kateydidnt says:

    Special features I can understand–but can they legally block captions like that? Isn’t it in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act?

  28. JoeDawson says:

    I think Hollywood is going after the non-tech inclined people, who don’t know, or cant pirate the content. What Hollywood fails to figure out, is that, especially with Americans, if it takes extra effort, it wont be done.

  29. isileth says:

    In Italy rental DVDs have always been without special features.

  30. TheGreySpectre says:

    Movie studios can try whatever they want it’s not going to get me to buy more movies. If they make the rental movies suck enough then I might stop renting movies, but I am not suddenly going to go out and buy films I wasn’t already intent on buying.

    • Rena says:

      This. I can live without seeing movies, but if I do rent them I’m going to be pretty annoyed if you pull a stunt like this. Rather than buy a copy I’m just going to not watch it at all.

  31. fxp says:

    This practice makes renting less enjoyable. I have Blockbuster and will most likely stop renting because of it. They should identify those DVD’s that have been hobbled. I don’t think Blockbuster wants you to know you that you are getting a damaged disk.

    • DerangedKitsune says:

      They do; it’s called a Rental Exclusive copy.

      It means that the disc has been neutered, that all extra content has been removed. You get the movie and absolutely nothing else.

      Except for the dozen or so unskippable trailers at the beginning. They can’t omit those

  32. geekpoet says:

    “I didn’t pay $3.99 to just watch the movie itself; I paid $3.99 to rent the physical DVD for a week. To have full access to the entire DVD and everything contained within the menus”

    Actually, you paid $3.99 for access to the physical disc Blockbuster offered you, however it may be arranged and whatever it may contain for whatever time period is in your rental agreement. Unless it stated it was a full retail DVD in the agreement, I don’t think there’s any legal grounds to complain here.

    I’m not disagreeing with your sentiment, and this is a reason to not rent from them again, but you can’t just claim what you wanted or expected to be what they owe you.

    I do think it should be labeled something like “Rental Edition – some DVD features disabled”…

    • Bix says:

      They use the retail case inserts with special feature listing.

    • ReVeLaTeD says:

      I agree. The $3.99 entitles you to the movie that they are offering, however they are offering it. There is never any promise of a full featured copy of the actual DVD. That negates the requirement that they disclose that the disk is limited. As long as the movie plays, that’s really all they’re giving you.

      Seems like some people just want to rent and watch the whole DVD for a fraction of what it would cost to buy it. That’s fine…but looking at it from a business perspective, it’s quite brilliant. Rent? You can see the movie. Buy? You get all of the goodies along with that movie.

      Think about it. Why should the local rental be any different than an iTunes or Netflix or Amazon OnDemand rental? Those don’t give you special features either, what’s the difference?

  33. Dover says:

    I’ve noticed that some TV show DVDs are sold as double-sided disks but the rental copies are single-sided. Plot by the rental companies to force you to rent more disks?

    • Bye says:

      Nope. Netflix in particular has noted that dual-sided discs have a larger potential to break so some studios create single-sided discs for them.

      I’ve always figured this as double-dipping: Netflix pays the same price but instead of 1 disc to lend out, they now have 2. And the consumers have fewer episodes to watch per disc.

      The disabling of captions is definitely not a good thing, but bonus content? If you want bonus content, pay the bonus price and buy the thing already. Otherwise, enjoy the show. For pretty much the same price as a rental, you can get it as Video On Demand – and you don’t get the bonus contents there either.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Sometimes it’s about cost. I think the first season of Bones (I could be wrong, but I swear it was Bones) was double sided and I remember thinking that was unbelievably cheap of Fox to do that. And as if to confirm my thoughts, there were very few special features, too. After the first season, the show became much more popular and all of the DVD sets since the first season have been single sided and well-done, with more special features.

  34. JamesBE says:

    Ah, and no captions too? So deaf people can’t rent movies?

    Rental companies shouldn’t CARRY these discs. And studios who produce these gimped, broken movies shouldn’t be pissed when people decide to just steal them instead. Dicks.

  35. TooManyHobbies says:

    Looks more like a reason to pirate the title than to buy it.

    Though honestly, it’s a rare extra that I give a damn about. Even when I’m making backup copies (like to strip off all the crap from the Disney DVDs I bought so I can JUST WATCH THE VIDEO) I strip off the extras, because nobody wants to watch them anyway.

  36. JamesBE says:

    And hey, Consumerist. You’re a news organization. How about you REPORT on this shit, call Disney’s PR people and ask them why they think its okay to screw over deaf people?

  37. RandomHookup says:

    Next, they’ll put the ending on a separate disk, requiring a separate rental.

  38. Gamereviewgod says:

    Fox rental exclusive discs actually have the extras on them… sort of. If you crack the DRM, you can watch them freely on your PC. Works for Blu-ray and DVD. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but if you want the extras, you can get ’em.

  39. 3rdUserName says:

    I make my own “Special Features” at home..

  40. coren says:

    Honestly, is this even a question? Of *course* they should be identifying this.

    And there are ways around it, unless they’re pressing them without the special features entirely.

  41. Kishi says:

    It’s not new- you guys posted about the kurfluffle over not including the subtitles on Up last year.

    The work-around: your local library. I may have to wait a few weeks, but I can check out a movie for free and I get to keep it for a week, instead of paying $1 a day.

  42. Geekybiker says:

    No captions? That’s an ADA suit waiting to happen.

  43. Mknzybsofh says:

    Bah Hollywood’s got it backwards again. Why would I want to spend 20 bucks to watch a bunch of freaking extras? Most of which are not even worth the time I just spent watching them and in some cases I’d like to have that time back please! There are a very limited number of movies I own or would like to own. These are the ones that I consider worth watching time and again. The rest of them are a ‘once through’ movie that’s only worth watching from Redbox or when the rental’s gone from 3.99 to 1.00. I’ve seen 3 movies in the theater this past year and I might be seeing 2 more before the end. Rent them why waste the time in the theater? It’s overpriced and a you have to deal with a bunch of jerks(not the word I’d like to use).

    • Bye says:

      But your argument strengthens the studios’ position. If you wouldn’t pay 20 bucks to see bonus content, then you should definitely rent your movies. It’s only for those people who love their bonus content that the studios are encouraging them to fork out the money to buy them. They figure most people are going to be just fine watching whatever content they would have seen in the theatre in the first place.

  44. thaJack says:

    This happens often. I’ve seen them doing it for years. Most of them don’t even have a menu option for the features, though.

    Many times the disk is gray and will say “RENTAL”, “NETFLIX” or “REDBOX” on the disk, too.

  45. g051051 says:

    Totally not new, I’ve seen this before on a disc I got from Blockbuster, years ago. Thy’re just the cheapest “standard” DVDs, like you’d get at any superstore.

  46. crazedhare says:

    Honestly, while it should be disclosed on the cover or through Blockbuster I do not personally take issue with this as long as “special features” is not interpreted to include accessibility features like captions for the hearing impaired. I don’t mind studios wanting to create an incentive for purchase. I’m still not going to buy movies (*), but for those to whom this stuff is important, maybe they should.

    (*) One reason I wont by movies is the constant format changes. Bought a bunch of movies on VHS, then they moved to DVD only, and now they’re pushing Blu Ray. While I don’t expect a disc or whatever to last forever, movies are just not the kind of crap I want to accrue meaningless possessions with. But then I steam online mostly (oh the horrors, there aren’t infinite pixels!) and would never whine about the withholding of a blooper real.

    • coldfire409 says:

      I think Blu-Ray will be the last physical media. Everything else after this will most likely be downloaded.

  47. pulsar0510 says:

    Except for the lack of captioning (which appears to be an issue that is being “worked on”), I don’t see the problem here. You don’t get extra features in the theater, so how is the movie experience less? This also forces studios to make the consumer DVD/BluRay worth the retail price. Not to mention that during the VHS era, there were very few extras and yet you still rented. I think the consumer comes out ahead in this scenario.

  48. amuro98 says:

    Why can’t there be a compromise here? Put the special features on a special rental disc. Many movie releases – including Blu-Ray – come with a separate special features disc already. This way you can have the “Movie Only” disc, and still charge people to rent the special features disc separately.

    Anyways, at the rate that things are going, streaming really IS going to become the next video format – at least for rentals – and then sales of physical media is going to REALLY plummet.

    It sounds to me as thought the studios haven’t thought their cunning plan all the way through…but more likely they’re plotting how to screw up streaming eventually as well.

  49. grm_ca says:

    Is there anyway to convince these same studios that the previews, warnings, and trailers are bonus content and that when we rent DVDs or Blu-Rays the movie just starts?

  50. ianmac47 says:

    Does no one remember VHS tapes that came with nothing more than an FBI warning the film?

  51. samonela says:

    Also noteworthy:

    When you BUY a season of some TV shows it comes in 2-4 discs. When you RENT the same season of the same show, it will instead be spread out over 8-10 discs. What?!

    AND there will be zero special features on the rentals!

    • RandomHookup says:

      First disc I ever received from Netflix was one episode of The Sopranos. I assumed it was going to take me forever to watch that series.

  52. SecretAgentWoman says:

    Ok, see – this is going to encourage piracy. In general, you only get bare bones movies when you pirate, if you wanted special features you had to pay. So, you might be willing to pay for a rental. But if rental doesn’t get you anything you couldn’t already get for free, fark it, just download the damn thing.

    I only pay for movies that I collect, and there isn’t that many of them. I’m not willing to shell out $20 to watch your bloopers. I might have been willing to shell out $4 for the rental though to see the bloopers. Oh well.

  53. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    Oh well, this will just make me more of a criminal. Why don’t they just go back to VHS tapes for chrissakes?

  54. Erik says:

    At video stores the videos have a large “RENTAL” stamped on the bottom. Only a few movies like “Scott Pilgrim” and “Get Him To The Greek” actually have the complete menus with access to the special features blocked. Almost all of the remaining films just allow you to play the movie.

    As for captioning, there was a hub-bub when the rental version of Up didn’t include the captioning because when stripping the bonus features, they accidently stripped the captioning also. I don’t think that has been an issue since, unless the movie never had captioning in the first place.

  55. Duckula22 says:

    I never rip those anyway.

  56. Sunflower1970 says:

    I noticed this a while back. Pissed me off at first, but now if I really want the extras I’ll find them somewhere online, either newsgroups, torrents etc. This just makes me want to download more. And I had pretty much stopped since I have been able to stream much of what I want already online through Netflix, Hulu, etc.

    Like someone else said, I am renting the physical DVD. I expect to have everything on that disc available to watch.

  57. JulesNoctambule says:

    Renting a movie is often how I decide that it’s worth purchasing, and the special features are a big, big part of that for me. Bad move if you want me to buy, studios.

  58. whiskeyblood says:

    As much as I don’t like this either- it actually is a good move for them (movie companies) as few folks purchase DVDs anymore vs all of the “rental” options these days. BUT there absolutely MUST be some warning that the disc only contains the film and renting another disc is required for the bonus features or purchase. Hiding it is grounds for lawsuit. I see the argument for lower rental fees to since the rental product is quite clearly less substance. There must be subtitles included on the film for the hearing impaired or this WILL be sued over.

  59. Coyote says:

    Luckily small independent rental places still get the retail copies. I rented this movie and can honestly say the outtakes and extra scenes were the only entertaining parts.

  60. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I still buy movies I love to watch and will watch again, (I have a lot!) but I usually don’t bother with special features. Unless it’s a gift or something I absolutely adored and want right away like The Dark Knight, I wait until the movie goes into the $5 bin anyway.

    I probably would not buy a used disk from BB or Netflix if I were forced to watch the previews, though. That bugs the hell out of me.

  61. Echomatrix says:

    figure its legit but false advertising. any lawyers in here wanna get rich?

  62. brianary says:

    Deaf people need movies, too. But they gotta PAY!

  63. AntiNorm says:

    Why does the doctrine of first sale not apply to DVDs? Blockbuster should be able to just buy the full-version DVDs, and since they’re not copying them, rent them out as they please. It’s no different than a library, except that you have to pay.

    • sixhoursago says:

      Libraries are required to buy different copies of books. They’re licensed for library distribution, and cost a whole lot more than a retail copy.

      • AntiNorm says:

        [citation needed]

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Untrue! Many library systems have accounts at Amazon, B&N, and other retailers so patrons can buy books to donate to the library. If the library could only buy special versions, they couldn’t have an Amazon or B&N wishlist.

  64. sixhoursago says:

    “I didn’t pay $3.99 to just watch the movie itself”

    No, but they charged you $3.99 to just watch the movie itself. Suck it up.

    “Should rental companies be alerting customers…”

    No. Rental copies of movies have been likely to be different for a long time. And they’re renting the customer the movie. No one ever implied that the extras were included. Sometimes they are. But that’s just what they are; extras.

  65. hansolo247 says:

    The rental Blu-Rays are often BD25s.

    And blank BD25s are much much less than BD50s. It’s almost like they want you to copy it.

  66. jpdanzig says:

    Who would buy a DVD just to gain access to the extra features? If I like a film enough to watch it again and again — and the DVD has extra features — I’ll buy it. But if the film is as suckworthy as most are these days — I consider it barely worth the $1 overnight rental at Blockbuster Express or Redbox…

  67. daemonaquila says:

    Can they please SELL these movie-only discs without all the extra crap? I’m tired of paying for extra “features,” excessively long “artsy” menu sequences you can’t skip, previews, and other junk. I just want the movie. But every store wants to sell me the “extra special 25,000 useless extras first-month-after-release gold anniversary edition” disc for an extra special $10+ more.

  68. Draw2much says:

    My husband normally ignores extras. I only watch them if the movie seems like it would warrant it. Generally, if I like a movie enough to watch the extras, I like it enough to buy it. So this makes no difference to me at all.

    On top of that, most of the rental places only have those first release no-extras DVDs anyway. :-/

    Having said that, it seems pretty dumb to me. If they’re doing it to stop pirating, it obviously won’t work. If they’re doing it to force you to buy the movie, that won’t work either. (If you don’t like the movie enough to buy it, what makes them think you’ll buy it just for the extras?) If they don’t want you to have the extra because they feel like they’re getting the short-draw financially, why not just release DVD/Bluray that don’t have any extras to begin with? Instead of teasing/ticking off their customer base?

    So yeah, dumb move.

  69. ned4spd8874 says:

    Doesn’t bother me actually. But I’m the type that if I like a movie enough, I will buy the disc to always have it to play whenever I want.

    I do use Netflix, but don’t really check out the extras on the discs. Again, if I really like the movie, I’ll buy it. Besides, most of the movies I get from Netflix are for my website, so I don’t care what the extras are!

  70. Dr.Wang says:

    I never noticed they were gone. I rent a ton of DVDs from Netflix. I don’t buy new DVD’s either. Even the month delay of their release to the rental market will not make me buy a new DVD.

    Like the new season of Dexter. I’ll wait patiently for it to come out on rental DVD. No problemo.

  71. bitplayer says:

    Another dumb move by Blockbuster. If I’m doing a one day Redbox rental I probably don’t have to watch the movie and features. The only reason to rent from Blockbuster is the special features. Strip them away and they make themselves even more irrelevant. Redbox should be ashamed for moving away from full discs. To what benefit? A month earlier window or slightly better prices? How about pissing off your customers. I think they are alienating movie buffs with this move. I’ll think twice about keeping my membership now.

  72. bitplayer says:

    Another dumb move by Blockbuster. If I’m doing a one day Redbox rental I probably don’t have to watch the movie and features. The only reason to rent from Blockbuster is the special features. Strip them away and they make themselves even more irrelevant. Netflix should be ashamed for moving away from full discs. To what benefit? A month earlier window or slightly better prices? How about pissing off your customers. I think they are alienating movie buffs with this move. I’ll think twice about keeping my membership now.

    • dvdchris says:

      Blockbuster and all video stores hate this. The rental discs are produced by the movie studios and most are forcing distributors to sell them to rental accounts.
      The rental copies are an attempt to kill the used DVD market as well as devalue the rental experience to the advantage of retail sales. Unless Redbox buys off the shelf, they will have the same rental copies the video stores have.

  73. Levk says:

    hmm… when i rent movies i care about the movie more then the specials most the times they dont interest me. Soooo.. yea this does not effect me, if the previews are off then oh well I guess they loose out.

  74. kujospam says:

    Yes they should be warning their customers that the features are blocked. Or they could have a huge class action lawsuit on their hands soon for fraud.

  75. hackel says:

    I honestly haven’t rented a film since around 2002, but I still think this is very wrong. If customers are made aware of the fact, then that’s fine. If not, then I would say it is a perfect candidate for a class-action lawsuit.

  76. jedifarfy says:

    Ahahaha! Nice try studios. Guess what? Most people still don’t want to buy your stuff and you can make them buy it. Awww, no behind the scenes or blooper reels? Somehow I think someone will get that on youtube or any number of torrent sites.

    Why don’t you just cut key scenes? Or the whole ending? Maybe that’ll work?

  77. SG-Cleve says:

    I noticed this on a Red Box movie recently.

    After I rent the movie and watch it I’m not about to go buy the DVD just so I can watch the gag reel.

    All you’ve done is made me angry. Why do you want your customers to be angry?

  78. LastError says:

    This is news?

    This is among the reasons I dropped Netflix a couple years ago. And it was old news then.

  79. last3miles says:

    “This disc is intended for rental purposes and only includes the feature film. Download it from the internet to view these bonus features and complete your movie watching experience.”

  80. psyonn says:

    They have been breaking the special features out onto a 2nd disc for a long time now. A 2nd disc you have to specifically get from netflix if you want to see them.

    Personally i could mostly care less about the substandard crap most movies “add” on to pretend there is value in what they are selling.

    I for one, do not miss it.

  81. Armand1880 says:

    Special features, I can shake my fist at. But not having captions on a rental DVD has to be against some sort of law.

  82. Syntania says:

    SInce when are captions a “special feature”? That would be like releasing a DVD that had no sound on it. I am not deaf, but I am hard of hearing, and a lot of words sound garbled to me, which means I miss a lot of the storyline if I don’t have captions. This is incredibly frustrating to me that they don’t include captioning on a rental. I am not going to buy a DVD if I don’t even know if I like it first.

  83. lukesdad says:

    Blockbuster is still charging $4 for movie rentals? So their plan to recover from bankruptcy is essentially “close a few stores, then keep doing the same thing we’ve always done and hope for the best?”

    • dvdchris says:

      They are actually charging $4.99 for the newest releases. Brick and mortar stores cannot charge $1 for new release rentals, the pricing structure does not produce enough revenue to run a retail store. A B/M store is not a kiosk. There is payroll, utilities, rent, R/M, and cost of goods to consider.

  84. Smultronstallet says:

    I can’t believe anyone would pay $3.99 to rent a single DVD.

  85. duncanblackthorne says:

    Does anybody really care all that much about the extra stuff?

  86. codeman38 says:

    The situation with the Up DVD was covered here last year, actually:

    As for the bonus features, most of the rental-only DVDs I’ve seen recently remove reference to the bonus material on the back of the box, so at least they’re not falsely advertising something that’s not there. Up was a notable exception: the discs were shipped to rental stores in the retail box, which claimed the DVD had both bonus shorts and subtitles– neither of which were present on the rental disc.

  87. thebt1 says:

    they are basically asking you to download it for free off of bittorent. the film industry is burying itself by treating customers like crap.

    • dvdchris says:

      The average person still renting a movie, either from Redbox or a brick and mortar store, neither has the inclination nor the knowledge to find and download a torrent.

  88. Deaf Deaf says:

    Please be advised that the term, “hearing impaired” is unacceptable. Here is the explanation:

    The term “Hearing Impaired” is a technically accurate term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct. In the mainstream society, to boldly state one’s disability (e.g., deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word “impaired” along with “visual”, “hearing”, and so on. “hearing-impaired” is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people.

    While it’s true that their hearing is not perfect, that doesn’t make them impaired as people. Most would prefer to be called Deaf, Hard of Hearing or deaf when the need arises to refer to their hearing status, but not as a primary way to identify them as people (where their hearing status is not significant).

    Hope that you and your people respect by refusing to use the outdated and offensive term.

  89. coldfire409 says:

    What happens when the demand for the movies wane and the rental companies try to sell the movies. In the past Blockbuster would sell copies of the movies they bought because there wasn’t a need for 500 copies of a movie after a year or so after it came out.

  90. agentx216 says:

    UPDATE – I just talked to Netflix about it. They confirmed it was from the studios and there wasn’t really anything they could do. Please read this as the tech support woman was super friendly and understanding. I told them to throw their weight around a bit more and to at least put a warning on movies’ main pages of those that are blocked…heck I think it’d be great if they listed all the extras (if any) on the main page. Hope the update adds to the information and I hope my phone call did something. (Netflix member since 2005)

  91. agentx216 says:

    UPDATE – I just talked to Netflix about it. They confirmed it was from the studios and there wasn’t really anything they could do. Please read this as the tech support woman was super friendly and understanding. I told them to throw their weight around a bit more and to at least put a warning on movies’ main pages of those that are blocked…heck I think it’d be great if they listed all the extras (if any) on the main page. Hope the update adds to the information and I hope my phone call did something. (Netflix member since 2005)

  92. fourclover54 says:

    That’s too bad, because the Blooper reel for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is hilarious. They really should put a label on the DVDs stating it is just the feature film, otherwise it’s false advertising since the box says it has all these extra features you can’t watch.