Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s new initiative to distribute two classes of discs for the sell-through and rental markets has stumbled out of the gate, with Amazon.com and other retailers receiving the wrong versions of Tuesday’s March 31 release of “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Amazon and other retailers, including Seattle’s Scarecrow Video, received rental DVDs of the best picture Oscar winner, with no bonus features, though the discs were inside retail packaging.
In other instances, retailers that had ordered rental copies found extras-loaded retail versions inside rental packaging.
Amazon has posted a note on its site telling customers that many of the “Slumdog” standard DVD copies are missing extras. The site also has listed a Fox hotline number, 1-888-223-4FOX, so customers can ask to have discs replaced with ones that include the special features. Callers should be directed to a Fox website, where they can watch missing features for free while they wait for the correct discs to arrive in the mail.
“Fox regrets any inconvenience this has caused,” the Amazon post says.
The studio did not immediately comment on the problem.
Scarecrow Video buyer Mark Steiner called the listed Fox number on Tuesday to get replacement discs for ordered titles with missing extras, but he hadn’t gotten a response back from the studio as of Wednesday morning.
“We played their game, and we ordered the rental versions and put those out like we were supposed to do, and now we are not getting the right sell-through copies that we ordered,” said Steiner. “I feel like we played by the rules and got screwed.”
Steiner was especially upset because his store was betting on the acclaimed pic, which grossed $137 million in theaters, to be its hottest-performing title in March.
Later in the afternoon on Wednesday, Scarecrow was told it would be getting the correct “Slumdog Millionaire” product with all of the included bonus features by Monday. Steiner said he was happy with that turnaround. Beginning with the releases of “Marley and Me” and “Slumdog” this week, Fox is distributing two classes of discs to stores: premium versions of its DVD and Blu-ray titles with added-value material such as digital copy for the sell-through market and stripped-down offerings for rental.
“Slumdog Millionaire,” for example, has special features on the retail DVD but not the rental version. On Blu-ray, it has bonus features on both the rental and retail versions, but only the retail package includes digital copy.
Stores also report that Fox had problems getting its program rolling for Tuesday March 31 release “Marley and Me.” The studio chose not to send out any standard DVD rental copies, which were to carry special features but no digital copy, apparently because it did not have time to manufacture the discs to meet street date deadlines. Instead, all stores got the retail version, which includes digital copy.
The Fox program is scheduled to run through the spring, spanning titles including “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “Notorious,” “The Wrestler” and “Bride Wars.”
“It’s a nuisance,” said one retailer dealing with sell-through copies sent inside rental boxes for “Slumdog Millionaire.” “I hope this is a one-time thing, because going forward, it’s Fox’s plan to keep having separate rental and retail SKUs.”