Recently Simon Pegg and Robert Weide announced via MySpace that they do NOT want people to buy their DVD for How To Lose Friends And Alienate People because they feel the distributors are skimping on the good bonus material. This comes as a huge blow to the distributors (MGM/Fox) because a movie like this makes most of it’s money off DVD sales. Rarely do you see the two biggest names in the movie going against the studios in order to keep a gag reel. But both Pegg and Weide spent a lot of time devising a comic strip, homage-o-meter, gag reel and more, and feel that it is not right to have their work cut from the DVD nor to have it kept from viewers.
The short story is that the director, Robert Weide, tried his best to get the material onto the DVD:
Weide reports that he sent numerous e-mails to those charged with integrating the bonus material, offering to clear up any problems or questions they might run into along the way. “The responses I received were somewhat dismissive, until they finally wrote me saying ‘thank you’… they had all the material in hand. I later found out they never obtained it.
Now both Pegg and Wilde have got to the wonderful world of the Internet are are urging you not to buy the US DVD release of their film (maybe the UK version). Here is what they have to say…
Here is what Simon Pegg posted on his MySpace blog…
SIMON’S BLOG: Uncle Bob speaks out
I was very disappointed when I heard about the lack of extra features on the US DVD of How To Lose Friends And Alienate people, particularly when Bob and I went to great lengths to ensure they were available. I, together with Edgar Wright and our team, have always strived to make our DVDs worth buying by loading them with extra content. We even invented never before seen DVD extras such as the Homage-o-meter, the Plot Holes comic strips and the trivia track, such was our desire to make the finished product indispensable. On projects where my responsibility was solely as an actor, I have strived to suggest content and have always been slightly ashamed of the discs that offer little. With HTLF Bob Weide, a man at pains to collaborate and achieve the very best he possibly can, was adamant that we work together to produce a DVD that offered a completist’s overview of the finished piece, having devoured the content on the Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz DVDs respectively. It actually became a catchphrase on set and in the edit when anything went wrong or had to be left out. So many times, I heard Bob invoke the mantra “thank god for DVD extras.” I even fought a light battle with the distributors about showing a gag reel whilst the credits rolled, a device I personally feel to be cloying and desperate. My argument was that the gag reel should of course go on the DVD, where it can be enjoyed selectively and in the proper context. Ironic then, that this is one of the special features that failed to make the US disc. I’ll let Bob say the rest.
Which was in response to…
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Please DON’T Buy My DVD!
This release issued from Whyaduck Productions…
DIRECTOR OF “HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS” DISCOURAGES FANS
FROM BUYING THE AMERICAN DVD
ROBERT WEIDE, the director of the film, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, is encouraging fans to bypass the Region 1 (North America) DVD of the film when it’s released in February, and suggests they consider purchasing the Region 2 (U.K./Europe) DVD when it’s released on March 16. The comedy stars Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, Gillian Anderson, Danny Huston, and Megan Fox.
The reason, says Weide, is simple. “Simon and I worked very hard to make sure the DVD would be packed with bonus material. The British distributors (Paramount) solicited our input and included all of the extras. Sadly, the American distributors (MGM/Fox) locked us out of the process and managed to leave off most of the bonus material.”
The UK DVD will include two separate audio commentaries. Explains Weide, “Simon and I did a commentary that’s mainly anecdotal and very playful, reflecting the nature of our own relationship.” Additionally, Weide provides a solo director’s commentary which covers more details about the actual shoot. “Thankfully,” says Weide, “the Americans did manage to include the audio commentaries.”
However, missing from the American release, but available on the UK DVD, are a number of deleted scenes not included in the theatrical version. “This is the omission that’s particularly upsetting,” admits Weide. “In any movie, there are a number of scenes that get cut in an effort to keep the film from running too long. Some are of little consequence, but others are important scenes that are very painful to lose. In this instance, there were a few scenes that I fought hard to keep, but eventually acquiesced with the knowledge that at least they’d be available on the DVD. Well, not so in the U.S.” Weide supplied yet another commentary to accompany the omitted scenes, explaining the purpose they served in earlier cuts of the film, and why they ultimately had to be excised. “You’d think deleted scenes would be a no-brainer,” says Weide. “Everyone knows it’s the first place viewers go after they watch the film.”
Also omitted from the US release are a “gag reel” consisting of the more humorous outtakes and flubbed lines, and an eight-chapter “Video Diary,” shot by the same videographer that filmed the popular video blogs for Pegg’s hit film, Hot Fuzz.
Weide explains that once he discovered the bonus material was omitted from the U.S. DVD, he was told by the American distributors that they wanted to include the special features, but had trouble clearing it. Weide’s response? “It boils down to sloppiness and apathy. All of the material was absolutely cleared for all territories. There were just too many cooks in the kitchen and the left hand failed to communicate with the right hand. The ball was gently placed in those hands, and they dropped it.” Weide reports that he sent numerous e-mails to those charged with integrating the bonus material, offering to clear up any problems or questions they might run into along the way. “The responses I received were somewhat dismissive, until they finally wrote me saying ‘thank you’… they had all the material in hand. I later found out they never obtained it. If they had told me the truth, I would have had the tapes on their desk within 24 hours.” Weide says that by the time the truth was revealed, MGM told him that “The ship had sailed,” meaning the DVD replication had already taken place, and there was no going back.
The US DVD does contain a special feature which the distributors call “Sharps Interviews – Behind the Scenes Featurette.” Weide wagers that it’s “probably something cut together from EPK (electronic press kit) material. I haven’t seen it, so it could be anything.”
Weide says that the stance he has taken – encouraging viewers to pass up the Region 1 DVD in favor of the Region 2 – should not be perceived as vengeful in any way. “It’s just a matter of clarifying for the fans that there are two different products out there, and one is superior to the other. It’s no different than if there were a widescreen version and a pan-and-scan version, I’d be advocating for the widescreen and discouraging people from buying the pan-and-scan. If you’re asking people to shell out $25 for a DVD, why not give them as much bang for their buck as possible?”
Weide states his contention that the DVD is more than just another medium in which to distribute the film, viewing it as an entirely separate entity from the theatrical release. A DVD collector himself, the director explains, “It’s going to kill me every time I see a review in the US complaining that there’s not enough bonus material. Plus, what the US distributors probably don’t even realize is that in both commentaries, Simon and I make repeated reference to the DVD’s deleted scenes, which is going to be rather confusing to viewers in the states.”
Two questions remain: How can American consumers purchase Region 2 DVD’s, and, presuming they do so, how can they play them on their Region 1 players? Weide responds, “Purchasing the DVD is easy. Just go to amazon.co.uk. As for playing them in the U.S., most film buffs already know that multi-region players are readily available in the states and no more expensive than single-region players. All they have to do is google “multi region DVD player” and they’ll be inundated with retail websites and information.” (Three such retail sites can be found at: www.hkflix.com, world-import.com, and dvdoverseas.com)
As for American fans stuck with Region 1 players who won’t be in the market for a multi-region player in the foreseeable future, Weide suggests they rent or buy the Region 1 if they have no other choice. “The theatrical release was so poorly publicized in the states, that most people never even knew it came out. So at least the DVD will give people a chance to finally catch up with the film. In the UK, there were different distributors and an entirely different promotional campaign. The film opened at number 1 there, and remained in the top 10 for a month. I hoped the American distributors would learn something from that. It looks like I may have been unreasonably optimistic.”
Believe it or not, this happens more that you can believe. There are so many hands in every single project, all yearning to earn a few extra pennies, that most of the material you see is not being brought to you by the actors you’re watching, the scripts being made, or the directors making them, but the distributors trying to sell, sell, sell!
Although often times a move like this could be a career breaker, I saw on with your bad selves! Damn the man! Get your gag reel!
Or is this just another way of demonstrating the title of the film?