‘Avengers’ mix up enrages British fanboys

DVD, Blu-ray released without director's commentary

LONDON — Disney has enraged British fanboys by releasing an edited version of “Marvel’s The Avengers” on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.K. without director Joss Whedon’s commentary and other significant extras.

Amazon’s U.K. site has been deluged by one-star reviews and infuriated comments since the DVD/Blu-ray package, titled “Marvel Avengers Assemble,” came out on Monday, eight days ahead of the U.S. release.

It’s too early to tell whether the row will impact sales of what is expected to be the biggest selling DVD of the year in Blighty, following the film’s £51.9 million ($84.1 million) box office success. But many people commenting on Amazon say they have returned or cancelled their pre-orders. The release has so far received 111 one-star reviews out of a total of 243 customer reviews on the website.

Lydia Rodrigues from Disney U.K. Home Entertainment told film mag Home Cinema Choice that Whedon’s commentary included on the U.S. DVD was finished too late for the U.K. manufacturing deadline.

“Our DLT (Digital Linear Tape, required to replicate the disc) had to be delivered one month earlier than that required for the U.S. pressing. So we missed out. We wanted it too,” she said.

A post-credits scene featured on the U.S. disc was also said to be unavailable for the U.K. in time.

As for the edit, fans complained that a spear tip seen protruding from a key character’s chest after he’s stabbed in the back has been removed, which has been confirmed by the British Board of Film Classification.

It said in a release, “The DVD/Blu-ray version of ‘Marvel Avengers Assemble’ is classified 12. It differs from the theatrical version submitted to the BBFC, which is classified 12A. The scene in the film where the tip of a spear is seen protruding from a man’s chest was absent from the DVD/Blu-ray ‘Marvel Avengers Assemble’.”

Disney responded on website Bleedingcool: “Each country has its own compliance issues relative to depictions of violence. Unfortunately, another region’s elements were inadvertently used to create the U.K. home release, which minimally altered this scene in the film. We thank our fans for their vigilance in recognizing this and apologize for the mix up.”

Rodrigues said the company has had a fierce internal debate over whether to release a new U.K. version of “Marvel Avengers Assemble” with all the extras, but is unlikely to do so, for fear of being accused of cynically exploiting fans by asking them to buy the same film twice.

Instead Disney suggested that hardcore fans should try to import the American version of the Blu-ray disc, which contains Whedon’s commentary and the full spear effect.

The U.S. Blu-ray is playable in the U.K. but the U.S. DVD is region 1, and only playable on multi-region players in Blighty, which is in region 2.

The U.K. was the second highest grossing international territory for “Avengers” behind China’s $87.9 million. The film is Blighty’s second highest grossing film of 2012, behind rival super-hero movie “The Dark Knight Rises” with $87.5 million.

Robert Mitchell contributed to this report.

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