When Would You Pre-Order a Movie (Blu-ray) Before Even Seeing The Movie in a Theater?
After the shootings in Aurora, we at The Film Nest briefly debated the merits of still going out to a movie theater. I mused that it made more financial sense to buy a brand new Blu-ray for twenty bucks as opposed to buying two tickets to sit down in a movie theater and brave sitting through talking fools, lit-up smart screens and back-kicking bastards.
Unless you’re indulging in a second trip or seeing a re-release of a favorite, you’re walking into a theater blind. But it’s a temporary outing. You’re just sampling something you hope you’ll enjoy. If you don’t, the night ends and life goes on. The typical Blu-ray buying experience is the opposite. You’ve probably already seen the movie and liked it. That’s why you felt justified in purchasing the disc, bringing it home and making it a part of your life. But there are some people that buy movies on Blu-ray, blindly.
The downfall of buying blind is that when you buy a Blu-ray, you own it. As Tyler Durden says, the things you own end up owning you. What you own defines you. Blu-rays are permanent, like a tribal tattoo, so you better be happy with your choice. You have to find a space for it on your shelf and prepare to face the scrutiny of others when they come to visit and scour over your collection to determine whether or not you have taste.
It’s because of this commitment to your collection that I’m not much of a blind-buyer. Regardless of logic and financial sense I’ll do my sampling of a movie in the theater before buying one. There are times when I’ve bypassed that logic. “Basic Instinct,” “Cape Fear (1991)” (which were both purchased during the same fateful trip to Circuit City years ago) and the Criterion “Armageddon” are prime examples of my happier blind-bought movies (these were all DVDs, but the principle remains the same). Then, there were times when it didn’t quite work out as well. “Dracula (1931)” and “The Invisible Man” leap to mind (apparently, I don’t much care for old Universal monster movies).
But, an interesting new tactic combining the movie theater sampler and the Blu-ray blind-buyer emerged this summer. When you pre-order a Blu-ray at Amazon, they provide you with a free ticket to go see that very movie in theaters. Not all Blu-ray pre-orders accompany this deal. It started with “Prometheus,” carried on with “Ted” and has most recently popped up with “The Bourne Legacy.” (Pre-order your Bourne Legacy and get your movie ticket here: http://amzn.to/NcRavD.) I didn’t end up seeing “Prometheus” or “Ted” in theaters anyway and I’m planning on following suit with “The Bourne Legacy,” so nowhere would it have made sense for me to take advantage of this deal. And even if I had planned on seeing them, I wasn’t about to make a commitment to their Blu-rays. Those are shiny circles I won’t allow to be placed around my finger, much less place them on myself ‘til death do us part (don’t think I’m not willing my Blu-ray collection to somebody when I die, because I am. That person’s going to be both pleased and envied).
Since I’m wary of the blind buy, but am really interested in the concept of committing to buy a movie and then getting to see it on the big screen all for one price, the question I’ve asked myself is: in what circumstances would I take advantage of such an offer?
A few years ago, some friends and I made a list of the “Five Directors Whose Next Movie We’d See in Theaters No Matter What.” It doesn’t matter who’s in it or what it’s about, but the seat for our butts can be reserved based purely on the name displayed at the close of each opening credit sequence. This list will largely resemble that one for me. Films by the same director can normally be counted on to carry the same aesthetic. If you like a few of them, chances are you’ll continue to like the same style. The interesting thing with that challenge was you didn’t know what movie was coming next (at least that wasn’t the point). You’re blindly swearing allegiance to someone and putting your faith in their product. With the Blu-ray deal, you’ll at least have a sense of what the movie will be. You’ll be able to see trailers and descriptions and even reviews before having to plunk down your cash for a plastic disc. But not for this exercise. These are the circumstances in which I’d take Amazon up on their offer and willingly blind-buy their Blu-ray for the opportunity to see the same movie in theaters for free.
IF IT’S DIRECTED BY DAVID FINCHER
This was the biggest no-brainer (or as Ras Kass would say, “a Kobainer”) of the list. The man can do no wrong. He was one of the chief reasons I got into film as much as I have when he debuted “Fight Club” and I own every one of his movies in the hi-def format, save for “The Game” (which will be resolved when it’s released in September) and “Alien 3” (which the man himself disowns, discounting it from being included in the club). Oh, and “Panic Room” is still awaiting a hi-def release, but I have the three-disc DVD to tide me over until then. Was I afraid when it was announced he’d be directing “a Facebook movie?” Yes. Was I stupid for ever doubting him? Unequivocally. When “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” came out, my girlfriend didn’t want to go because it looked a little too glum. I said, “It’s Fincher.” She recanted the errors of her ways. At this point, there’s no real idea what he’s doing next, but rest assured I’ll be owning it and Amazon can already add my money into its yearly sales projections if they decide to offer this deal for whatever it is.
IF IT’S DIRECTED BY QUENTIN TARANTINO
Like Fincher, Q.T. has a style, but his is even more prevalent since he’s a writer-director. Everyone knows what it is and everyone knows why Q.T. is the coolest cat in the biz. I’ve purchased movies based on the fact that he wrote them (“From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” and “True Romance”) and his being in the director’s chair practically guarantees money being set aside from my paycheck. His only directorial efforts I don’t own are “Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2.” These obviously aren’t my favorite of his films, but I wouldn’t sneer at owning them if we weren’t constantly teased by the possibility of them being bundled as “Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair.” “Inglourious Basterds” was my favorite movie of 2009 and “Django Unchained” is my most anticipated of the rest of the year. I’m not fluent in any other languages, but I know for sure that Tarantino means money.
IF IT’S REALEASED BY PIXAR/DISNEY ANIMATION
Two or three years ago, I wouldn’t dream of putting a slash and adding Disney Animation to this entry. However, with “Bolt,” “Tangled” and the promise shown in “Wreck-It Ralph,” the wonders of John Lasseter are evident. I have my faith that Disney Animation films can be as near-Pixar-quality as non-Pixar films can dream of being. The animation giant itself is still as close to a guaranteed path as anything when venturing out into the movie wilderness. Only one of their titles doesn’t sit snugly on my stuffed shelf. The widely dismissed “Cars 2.” And there’s good reason for it not to mingle with everything else. It’s not a particularly good movie. However, there would be far more tragic things than purchasing the studio’s one true misfire (which in theory would help fund their more ambitious features), especially when it’s currently the only way you can own “Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation.” Much like the power of Christ compels the demon to leave Linda Blair’s body, so does my completest nature to own the title. My faith will be rewarded in future endeavors.
Those are the only sure-fire slam dunks out there for me. If that’s the case, how did I ever get to five directors? Two of them were Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson. I’d still put them on such a list today. Just not this list.
With Nolan, the one thing that stops me short of putting him on this list is that not counting “The Following,” there are still two of his movies I don’t own. “Insomnia” and “The Prestige.” While they’re both perfectly good, I’ve never felt the need to add them to my collection and as much as I’m holding out hope Nolan wows me every time out into the future, there’s proof at the moment that I’m not as dedicated a fanboy as I am in other cases.
Paul Thomas Anderson is a slightly different beast in that I own everything he’s done except for “Hard Eight,” though I’ve been very willing to own it (mainly due to the opening twenty minutes) and might if it were released in hi-def. Until then, the DVD stays un-bought. After “Django Unchained,” “The Master” is my second most-anticipated movie still to come this year. However, as I’ve discussed with others, his style has undoubtedly changed from his “Hard Eight,” “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia” days. “Punch-Drunk Love,” “There Will Be Blood” and what we’ve seen so far of “The Master,” carry a far more shaggy-dog aesthetic compared to the polished sheen of his first three outings. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that at all (as proven by my owning his two recent forays into the medium), but I feel there’s more potential for things to be rockier than I’d like. “The Master” could make me feel a fool in an instant for being cautious, and I’d love to eat my words.
As for the fifth director I had on that previous list, it was Michael Moore. Love the man. Love his movies. I just don’t own them. That’s all there is to say.
With one final plea to Amazon and movie studios, please know that just in case “Prometheus,” “Ted” and “The Bourne Legacy” didn’t accomplish what you thought it would with the deals you were offering, don’t give up. Firstly, most people are far less particular with their movie collection than I am, but even the harshest of us will buy into the concept for the right vehicle. You know my three. What would guarantee your blind-buy?