Whether they come in the form of audio commentaries, deleted scenes, documentaries or other unique content, bonus features have been a staple of home video releases all through the DVD and Blu-ray era. What are your favorite types of disc supplements?
The concept of “added value content” on a movie disc was actually pioneered back in the early Laserdisc days. The first ever running audio commentary (by film historian Ronald Haver) appeared on the Criterion Collection edition of the classic ‘King Kong’, released on LD in 1984. Soon afterward blossomed the idea of the “Special Edition” loaded with documentaries, deleted scenes and other contextual information about the making of a movie. On Laserdisc, these features were typically relegated to expensive box sets that appealed to the die-hard fans and collectors. However, when DVD arrived in the late 1990s, supplements quickly became a standard feature and a primary selling point of almost every movie release.
That’s still true to some extent on Blu-ray today. We frequently hear complaints about “bare bones” discs, as if a lack of supplements means that the studio was too cheap and/or lazy to pull any content together. Yet I think that fan enthusiasm for these features has declined over the years, due to viewer burn-out and the shallow, repetitive nature of many (frequently promotional) featurettes common to modern movie releases.
Back in the day, I used to get very excited about watching all the features on every disc I bought, but these days I hardly ever watch supplements unless I’m professionally required to do so in order to review the disc. I might make an exception if it’s a movie that I really care about, but that’s becoming increasingly rare.
I favor quality over quantity. I prefer a single good documentary to a dozen fluffy featurettes. I find most commentaries boring, and will typically only give them about 15 minutes to win me over. If one hasn’t caught my interest in that time, I turn it off.
What are your favorite bonus features? Vote for as many options as you’d like in the poll, and tell us in the Comments about the best examples you’ve found on DVD and Blu-ray.