‘Don’t Anger The Fans’ – Why comic book fans control the movie studios
Matt Risley looks at why movie bosses should pay more attention to comic book fans.
When a movie manages to haul in over a billion and a half dollars at the global box office, you’d assume that the inevitable Blu-ray and DVD release would debut to cash-splashing fanboy fanfare.
But this week’s home entertainment launch of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble is mired in controversy surrounding sneakily altered scenes, country-specific extras (or lack thereof), and has sparked a backlash that’s led many fans – myself included - to boycott the release of their favourite film of the year.
It’s high time the big boy studios woke up and began to understand the power, importance and influence of the diehard comic book movie fan.
“With great power (and profits) comes great responsibility”
Up until only a few years ago, the mainstream view of comic book fans was of a socially inept niche with little real pulling power.
But with X-Men, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Spider-Man and many more, Hollywood’s finally come around to the idea that by embracing an impassioned, affluent, and self-galvanizing fan community, they can make blockbusters that appeal to mainstream and niche punters alike.
As a result, movie studios and comic companies could learn a (subtly amended) thing or two from everyone’s friendly neighbourhood webbed wonder – “with great power (and profits) comes great responsibility”.
"We’re not putting up with exploitative, cynical cash-grabs anymore"
The depressing truth is that movie fans are now used to sub-standard DVD and Blu-ray releases. For every ad-splashing blockbuster release, you just know that there’s a ‘Special’, ‘Uncut’ or ‘Unseen’ version that’ll hit shelves just a few months down the line with purposely withheld fan-baiting extras (Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings are repeat offenders).
But with Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, it feels like things have finally reached a tipping point – it’s time for fans to tell the movie studios that we’re not putting up with exploitative, cynical cash-grabs anymore.
Should you want to buy Marvel’s Avengers Assemble in the UK, you can purchase a DVD release (with one paltry featurette), a Blu-ray or 3D Blu-ray release (with the DVD featurette, a Gag Reel, deleted scenes and a brand new mini-movie), and then an array of new multi-movie Marvel box sets.
"Fans who loved the original movie are being short-changed"
But in the US, they have it far better – not only do they get all the above (with a much bulkier DVD) and a new four-disc combo package, but on every version they get an exclusive audio commentary from writer and director Joss Whedon.
In another odd and borderline Orwellian move, it appears that they’ve also altered a key scene for UK audiences. The moment where *SPOILER ALERT* Agent Coulson is murdered by Loki appears to have been softened for the DVD and Blu-ray release. In the theatrical version a spear tip protrudes from his body, while in the newly released version, it’s bizarrely missing.
"It’s time to pay comic book movie fans as much respect as they pay their idols"
Irrespective of the importance of a spear tip here or there, the key thing is that fans who loved the original movie are being short-changed – the movie they watched in the cinemas is not the one they’re getting at home.
These are the fans who queue up for days outside cinemas, who fork out to watch the movies multiple times (in 2D and 3D), and who can generate huge advocacy and drive mass opinion online with dedicated websites and influential social support.
With countless other ways to watch, consume and support this content (illegal downloading, streaming and bootlegging, for starters), it’s time to pay comic book movie fans as much respect as they pay their idols.
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