Poll: Do You Care About Bonus Features?

As a DVD/Blu-ray reviewer, I have to be honest, I hate bonus features. Whenever I get a new Blu-ray, I refuse to watch supplements unless I’m reviewing the disc and am professionally obligated to do so. The only possible exception might be if it’s a movie that I absolutely adore and want to learn everything about. But those are few and far between these days. When I am reviewing a disc, I truly dread “Special Editions” that are loaded up with hours and hours of featurettes and promotional interviews. Is there anything in life more tedious than a 15-minute gag reel of actors flubbing their lines and goofing around between takes? No, no there is not.

When you’re an actor who’s just shot 75 takes of a dialogue exchange and is getting loopy with exhaustion, repeatedly mispronouncing the word “scatological” may seem like the most hilarious thing ever. But for a viewer watching that footage out of context months later, it’s pure torture.

Mostly, my antipathy for supplements has to do with the fact that, by and large, they suck. Aside from The Criterion Collection or the rare well-crafted documentary you might find on a Warner Bros. classic title, most of what passes for “added value content” on DVD and Blu-ray these days is annoying promotional fluff straight from the movie’s Electronic Press Kit. I’ve long since lost count of how many discs I’ve reviewed that promised “Over 4 Hours of Extras!”, which wound up being entirely comprised of repetitive 3-minute featurettes with the cast members gushing about what a wonderful experience they had making the movie, and how terrific everybody was to work with. I swear to god, my life would be greatly enriched if I could avoid ever listening to another tedious audio commentary in which the director stammers for two hours trying to think of things to say, while occasionally pointing out how he cast his cousin’s neighbor’s best friend as a background extra. And don’t even get me started on most “interactive” and BD-Live supplements, which are usually a complete waste of time.

It used to be that bonus features were a huge selling point on a DVD or Blu-ray. I still know some people who refuse to buy a disc that doesn’t have a minimum number of checkpoints on the back cover. But do people really watch them? With the massive sales success of ‘Avatar‘, which is completely bare-bones on both DVD and Blu-ray, I suspect that most people are still driven to purchase a title primarily by the movie itself, regardless of whether it comes with any supplements.

So, let’s hear what you think. Do you love or hate bonus features? Do you feel compelled to buy discs loaded with supplements that you’ll never actually watch? Or do you devour every single behind-the-scenes morsel you can find?

Do You Care About Bonus Features?

View Results

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  1. HuskerGuy

    I very rarely watch bonus features, even for films I love so I’m not put off when they are missing/lacking.

  2. Carlo

    The poll could be better, seems to be geared to minimize the marketing importance of SF’s. As it is, most truthfully SF’s are very important to me even if I frequently don’t watch every single last one.

    I like them to be there, I might not find every single one interesting but I do love a good featurett and frankly feel robbed getting a bare bones disc.

  3. As a fellow DVD reviewer, I’m in agreement with everything Josh wrote here. Practically word for word, he nails it. That said, my vote went for “I find supplements somewhat interesting, but will still buy a movie even without them,” because when there are great extras (which are indeed becoming rarer and rarer), it makes me giddy, so I’d hate to see them disappear altogether.

    All that said, having fallen in love with collecting movies all over again through Blu-ray, I really wish Blu-ray producers would put more work into making the movies themselves shine, and getting them in the best possible shape for High Def release, because that’s why we got into this format in the first place – it wasn’t for BD-Live, that’s for damn sure.

  4. As a Blu-ray reviewer my vote went to the “I find supplements somewhat interesting, but will still buy a movie even without them,” but I would amend it to say “I find supplements REALLY interesting, but will still buy a movie even without them.” I love bonus features, but if there’s a movie out there that I really want with no, or little special features, then I’ll probably still buy it especially if there isn’t another edition looming on the horizon.

  5. If there’s nothing special on the disc I’ll rent it. You’ve gotta have some cool extras to get me to make a purchase 🙂

  6. JoeRo

    Hmm there should be one more option. Something like; I enjoy watching special features for certain films, but they are by no means necessary. If I’m watching the special features on a disc, it’s likely one of my favorite all time movies, or else I’m bored. The documentary included on Blade Runner The final cut, though longer than the film itself, is a must watch for any hardcore fan interested in the history of that project. I’d also like to cite the LOTR: extended editions documentaries, that are filled with so much minutiae that only the most devoted fans can get through it all. I’m also a big fan of commentaries. My love affair with commentary tracks began when I purchased the special edition of Fight Club on dvd back in the day. Hearing the actors and director discuss the making of the film was both entertaining and shed some interesting light on the process. Then there are those films that you borrow from a buddy, just to see it on blu-ray, that end up surprising you when you spend some time with them. The cast commentary for Tropic Thunder is hilarious. Seriously.

    Sadly though, for people who dig bonus features that are actually merit the term, most of these features (featurettes?) fall into the 3-10 minute promo category. And why after all, would I need some production company to sell me a movie I’ve likely already purchased in the first place? No idea. These kinds of supplements have a bad reputation, and rightly so, but there are special features out there tat are truly special.

  7. BostonMA

    the reason why i don’t own Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction imports is because they don’t have any extras.

  8. Art

    It seems that we agree that what passes for supplements is often useless drivel. That being said, when I watch a movie that is a joy to watch, particularly as a pleasant surprise, supplements that add to my knowledge of the film in some way or delve deeper into subplots or other elements of the film or background are appreciated.

    I think you are asking the wrong question. You seem to be asking how many of us hate supplements that are poor. Instead, I wonder if you asked us what we thought of supplements assuming they would enhance the movie, most of us would be enthusiastically in support.

  9. damonous

    “I collect discs with lots of supplements, but rarely watch them all.” –While hear what Josh is saying, and I could certainly see where as a reviewer you probably dread 8hrs of bonus feature for “Transformers 4: Revenge of the Fallen and Can’t Get Up”, …I do find 2 cases when Special Features make all the difference in the world:

    1) A movie (perhaps a blind-buy) sucks beyond your wildest expectations.
    (in this case, it’s sometimes humorous to see how oblivious –or not– the stars and producers were to the fact)

    2) A movie you love.
    (It may not be everyone’s favorite movie, but along with Iron Man, Fantastic Four was one of my favorite comics as a kid. The thought that they actually turned that comic faithfully into a movie was something I couldn’t get enough of — I bought every ‘bonus version’ there was: the Best Buy 4-disc set in a special tin, the WalMart extra disc special edition, the Extended version, etc, etc.)

    So, to make a ‘blanket comment’ that Special Features suck is rather disingenuous: every movie (not matter how bad) has an uber-fan somewhere. And that uber-fan will be soiling their undies with 12hrs of special features. (Even though the rest of us might groan.) It’s the price that a movie fan has to pay.

  10. You can usually tell pretty early when a supplement is going to be decent or when it’s going to be a regurgitated pile of press junket/E! Channel behind the scenes crap. In fact you can usually tell by reading the titles on the back cover whether something is worthwhile or not.

    I watched virtually every minute of the Blade Runner 5-disc, because that was quality stuff.

  11. Motorheadache

    My favorite extras are retrospective docs on movies I grew up with, such as the Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight on the Batman Anthology, Dangerous Days from Blade Runner, and Empire of Dreams from the Star Wars set. I like these because they can freely discuss the production, warts and all. Extras for new movies made during or immediately after production are usually sugar coated.

    For most movies, I typically skim through the extras maybe once, skipping through technical sfx stuff. I’m definitely not an extras aficionado, that’s for sure.

  12. EM

    Occasionally, so-called “bonus” features are the *only* reason to own a disc. I bought one of Elite Entertainment’s “Drive-In Discs”—cheap—just so that I could have the immortal interstitial “Let’s All Go to the Lobby”. The disc had a couple of feature films, but one of them was one that I already owned a better transfer of (though I do find the disc’s “Distorto” soundtrack amusing), and the other was a movie that I was unfamiliar with and didn’t end up caring for all that much. But the “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” special feature made the disc worth buying.

  13. Josh Zyber

    Looks like we’re tapering off with just over 250 votes. Tell your friends about this poll! Share it on Facebook! Let’s get more votes in here. 🙂

  14. Ralph

    “The poll could be better, seems to be geared to minimize the marketing importance of SF’s. As it is, most truthfully SF’s are very important to me even if I frequently don’t watch every single last one.

    I like them to be there, I might not find every single one interesting but I do love a good featurett and frankly feel robbed getting a bare bones disc.”

    THIS! (from CARLO another blogger)