Blu-ray/iTunes/DVD Combo Movie Packs Prove DVD Is Still King

More and more big movies—Where The Wild Things Are, to name the latest—are coming out in a single package that includes Blu-ray, iTunes-friendly Digital Copy and DVD. This proves DVD is still the best way to sell movies.

I naively enjoyed the Blu-ray/Digital Copy combo for a while, during the period I was still trying to see the point of Apple TV, and didn't mind the rights-managed movie files. Now that Apple TV is dead to me, and I use other media players, I prefer a clean Handbrake rip to a DRM-shackled digital download. I am not a pirate; I just like being able to do what I want with a movie I buy.

Sell me a Blu-ray disc, solo, and I can rip it, maybe even downrez it. But melting a hole in my laptop trying to rescale 1080p to DVD-standard 480p is a thousand-hour pain, and trying to play a movie at my in-laws when all I have is a Blu-ray disc (and they don't have a player) is annoying too. Combining Blu and the DVD solves these problems, so it's the best, but it does render the Digital Copy totally pointless.

With the right gear and software, I can watch movie files pretty much wherever. But so many people don't rip movies and don't download them either. Combo packs solve a huge headache, but again, Digital Copy is the odd man out.

A DVD can be portable-ish, playing on laptops, little LCD DVD players, and—especially for family stuff where these combo packs first appeared—in-car entertainment systems. There aren't many Blu-ray players in cars, and unless each of your kids gets their own iPod Touch, iTunes DRM video isn't gonna work either. Maybe someone has a Blu-ray player in the home, connected to an HDTV, but that Blu-ray disc is never really portable. Hollywood backs into these problems, then brings its ace out of retirement to solve them. DVD proves it's still the best.

Warner Home Video is delivering the monster pack of Where The Wild Things Are on March 2, 2010. It's priced at $36, steep but it will no doubt be reduced by a lot when it arrives at Amazon. The Pixar movie Up! is selling in a triple combo pack for $18, while Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs sells in combo for $25. The Bourne trilogy will be out in three separate $20 combo packs on January 19.

I would argue that Hollywood cares less about people ripping DVDs than confusing (and losing) the mini-van set. Everyone will benefit, as more and more high-profile films get the triple-combo-pack treatment. Hell, I will gladly pay $18 for a movie if I get to keep all of that stuff—that's not even the price of two theater tickets, and I pretty much hate movie theaters these days. But at $18, Hollywood's "upsell" for the included Blu-ray and iTunes download is gone. It's less what they gain than what they don't lose, I suppose. So where does that new dual-sided Blu-ray/DVD combo disc fit in? I doubt it'll go far. It costs more—and confuses more—than good old standalone DVD. Hail to the king, baby.