Over recent months a significant and profoundly dishonest change has been taking place in how some PR companies and DVD/Blu-ray distributers handle review copies of their titles.
They’ve stopped sending out discs.
Until fairly recently a PR company would contact sites such as this and offer to send a copy of whichever film they were hoping to secure coverage for, sometimes discs would have to returned after the viewing, other times the reviewer would get to keep a copy.
Either way, though it wouldn’t always come in fancy retail packaging, the reviewer was able to see, comment on and review the same item readers would be buying in the shops a few weeks later.
But as I started off by saying, this is beginning to change.
Instead of being sent out discs, reviewers are being invited to screenings in purpose built venues, just as we are for films ahead of cinema releases.
So what’s the problem?
The first time I got invited to such a screening I took up the invite only to find that the screening consisted solely of the film – no extras, no commentary, just the main feature.
I explained to the PR afterwards that, while I appreciated the chance to see the movie again, I couldn’t really review the DVD/Blu-ray release because what I’d seen was essentially just the big screen print of the movie.
The second time I was invited to such a screening I asked ahead of time whether the extras and commentary would be screened and was told “it’s just not possible because of time constraints.” I didn’t bother going along.
Nowadays when I get such invites they just get deleted.
I appreciate the desire of filmmakers and distributers to ensure their product is seen in the best possible light but, to me, there’s something fundamentally dishonest in not allowing reviewers to experience releases in the same kind of domestic environment film fans will be watching in.
And, as both a reviewer and a buyer, what worth is a review if the reviewer hasn’t seen the whole package including the ‘added value” content such as commentaries, interviews and features?
For that reason DVD and Blu-ray reviews on this site will always appear only if we’ve actually had a chance to play the disc for ourselves.