The rise of store-exclusive DVD and Blu-ray releases?

Twilight is to be a 6-week Blu-ray exclusive to two big chains in the US next month. This is not, surely, something we should encourage…?

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in Twilight

We picked up a worrying news story at the end of last week, when the US website High Def Digest reported that the Blu-ray release of teen vampire flick Twilight was set to be a store exclusive – to the Best Buy and Target chains – in the US for a six week period. Thus, on March 21st you’ll be able to buy the DVD of the film anywhere in the US, but if you want to enjoy the film in high definition, there are only two chains that you can buy it from if you want it in the first six weeks of release.

Now, this writer has little particular interest in the Twilight movie, nor does he have a particular yearning to see it. But this is still, nonetheless, hardly a welcome development. How can it be in the best interests of customers to restrict where they can buy a disc from, during the window in which they’re most likely to want to buy it?

We’ve seen this kind of thing in the past, and over in the UK as well. Primarily, though, it’s limited to small productions, or DVD releases with niche appeal. We’ve never known a major blockbuster release, not least one where parents will be pestered by their teenage offspring to buy it, be limited in quite this way. And it’s not progress, instead only serving to line the pockets of a couple of big chain stores, and a distributor who presumably pocketed some welcome extra cash as a result.

Here’s hoping that Twilight’s staggered release is a one-off, and doesn’t succeed. But if it doesn’t, to paraphrase the original Die Hard, they might find something you really care about next time…

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26 January 2009