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Star Trek fans are about to cringe at the two words that no consumer ever wants to hear: retailer exclusives.
The idea of retailers offering a product with exclusive content is nothing new. And the last few years have seen an increase in retailer exclusives in a variety of categories, from media to clothing lines. Retailer exclusives are designed to influence consumers to shop at their stores over others by appealing to the consumer's sense of uniqueness; if you ever bought a movie soundtrack through iTunes and received a special bonus track in return, or bought a box set of DVDs through Amazon and got exclusive memorabilia bundled with it, then you likely are aware of this commercial technique. However, despite the ubiquity of this practice, consumers planning to buy Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray are in for a surprise.
Trek Core, a website for all things Star Trek, recently reviewed the Blu-ray and awarded the film itself five stars for picture quality, but a dismal rating of less than one star for bonus features. Why the discrepancy? The problem wasn't with the bonus features themselves, but rather the tedious job of finding them. According to Trek Core:
"The standard Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray release includes just a handful of behind-the-scenes featurettes — completely produced in-house by Bad Robot, the film's production company, and not by Paramount — running just over 40 minutes. Yep, that's it — no deleted scenes, no audio commentary, not even a set of trailers for the film."
If viewers want access to more bonus content, they'll have to buy a retailer exclusive Blu-ray. For example, CinemaNow, a streaming service from Best Buy, offers 60 minutes of "the making-of" footage; Target's release includes additional bonus discs; and for audio commentary, Trekkies will have to go through iTunes to get it.
Beyond the first 40 minutes of bonus features, all of the Star Trek extras are exclusive to particular retailers. So if you pre-ordered a copy of Star Trek Into Darkness from Amazon, you won't get the making-of footage, and even if you track down Best Buy's offering, you won't get Target's exclusive bonus discs. However, audio commentary is available for all Blu-ray copies; the set includes a code to download the audio commentary from iTunes, although it'll obviously then exist separately from the Blu-ray content. To try and make sense of the retailer exclusives, TrekCore broke down the bonus features offered by Best Buy and Target.
The great exclusives divide, so to speak, isn't great news for non-Trekkies either. If the divvying up of bonus content between retailers healthy sales, then we might be seeing even more segmented exclusive offerings in the future. For devoted fans who live for the extra features of box sets, price won't be the only thing to compare; fans might be finding themselves trying to sort out what exclusive content is offered where, and what bonus features they can't live without.
Moreover, if sales of certain store exclusives prove to be more lucrative than others, we may actually see a decrease in discounts and promotions on Blu-rays from that retailer. Conversely, retailers with less desirable bonus content might feel pressure to offer price cuts on items in order to compete in the marketspace. The latter scenario certainly benefits the shopper who lacks any strong preference for one version over another.
Readers, what do you think about the new wave of retailer exclusives? What store will you buy from for Star Trek Into Darkness? Sound off in the comments below.