When the details of the Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray discs were released last month, there was a big fan outcry wondering what happened to a fully loaded version with extras, like we got with Star Trek (2009)? The DVD version fared even worse, being a totally barebones release. Friend of TrekMovie, Bill Hunt from The Digital Bits, has that answer. It turns out that a plethora of bonus features do exist… it’s just that Paramount doesn’t want them all in one place. They are being used for retailer and digital download vendor exclusives.
UPDATED 9/2/2013 with even more details thanks to TrekCore’s diligence.
The Digital Bits just put up their article entitled “Paramount Has a Blu-ray Problem”
It turns out that more extras were created for this release – more featurettes and even an audio commentary with director J.J. Abrams and members of his crew. None of it is available on the wide release Blu-ray or Blu-ray 3D SKUs. The commentary can only be found as an iTunes “extra” download. And those extra featurettes? Some are on a Target bonus disc. Some are on a Best Buy bonus disc. And some are only available via CinemaNow and VUDU downloads.
That’s right: More than half of the special features created for Star Trek Into Darkness were used by Paramount’s marketing team as retailer exclusives.
You know how I found out? Readers told me. Several readers e-mailed me talking about the iTunes commentary and something about its shifting aspect ratios, and all I could think was: “Wait, there’s a freakin’ audio commentary somewhere… and it’s not on the Blu-ray?!”
Bill has even more to say in his editorial, read the whole text over at The Digital Bits
On the plus side, Bill’s review of the Into Darkness Blu-ray disc shows that at least the A/V quality is excellent, which is what we’d all expect thanks to being a brand new movie and the use of IMAX camera footage.
The video and audio quality is pretty terrific. Presented in 2.35:1 and shot largely on film (35 mm Panavision and some 65 mm IMAX, with select use of Red Epic HD cameras), this film just looks fantastic. Color, contrast and detail are all wonderful, with accurate flesh tones, nuanced shadings and deep, deep blacks. Plus, the lens flares that irritated so many with the first film have been toned down to a more appropriate level, so there’s that.
The audio experience is terrific too. This is one of the best Dolby TrueHD mixes I’ve heard in some time. All 7.1 channels are active – sometimes subtly and sometimes more stridently – creating a delightful sense of immersion for the viewer in the sound space. Dialogue is clear, bass is vigorous. Michael Giacchino’s score is fantastic and actually sounds fantastic here. Great moments worth listening to: The bombing of the London archive, Harrison’s attack on Starfleet HQ and the ship-to-ship space dive late in the film. Each exhibits all of the best qualities of this surround mix.
On my own editorial note, I think this just continues to highlight what a fantastic job CBS has been doing with its’ portion of the Trek franchise. What a shame Paramount continues show that they don’t really see much value in their part of Trek.
UPDATE September 2
TrekCore has one again done some fantastic work on what bonus content comes with which retailer of STID.
UPDATE August 30, 2013
TrekCore has done some serious homework. In addition to their excellent review of the U.S. version of the Blu-ray disc of Into Darkness, they now have some information about what international releases will have (or not), and who may be responsible for the bonus content handling.
It turns out it may not be just Paramount Home Video, it seems it is also Bad Robot, as they reportedly retained control over the bonus content. So we have both the distributing movie studio and the production company to blame it seems.
As for our international readers, we’re still trying to piece together all the different international options for getting hold of the additional material. Canada’s Best Buy release will include a physical bonus disc in place of the CinemaNow streaming content; the German 3D/Blu-ray/DVD combo set and the the Sainsbury’s (UK) Blu-ray/DVD combo appear to have the same features as the Target release; Tesco’s Blinkbox streaming service is apparently advertising twenty minutes of unspecified extras in the UK – but aside from that, we have no information as to where the rest of this extra content will be available outside of the United States.
TrekCore’s review also has a quote from an anonymous industry contact:
“Bad Robot had 100% control [over the VAM production], it was all produced in-house, which is new – and they delivered the content to Paramount, who had basically no say. It’s possible – and this is speculation – that the Bad Robot content was delivered late; because account-specific features typically have a later deadline than the Blu-ray, it could have been thrown to different SKUs. That’s a ‘nice’ way of looking at it.
The other possibility is that those retail outlets paid for the extra content. Could Bad Robot have sought out those exclusive deals? Possibly… for sure, this is not JUST Paramount’s doing. Nothing happened with that Blu-ray that wasn’t discussed and approved by Bad Robot, even if Paramount drove the decisions.
My point is, I think it’s fair to say that Bad Robot was involved in the split VAM decision, and it’s naive to think otherwise – because at Paramount, it’s JJ’s world. If anyone is disappointed in the Blu-ray, criticize the responsible parties – not only the ‘faceless’ studio.”
–See more at TrekCore’s STID Blu-ray review