Disney’s new Blu-ray solicitations for Oz the Great and Powerful introduce what is either the start of a dangerous trend, or an experiment that is bound to backfire, depending on your point of view. No longer is the 3D edition the catch-all, awesome edition, providing you with four different formats in which to enjoy the movie. Instead, with Oz, 3D now stands alone, with the close to the same SRP as previous 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/digital editions, but without the 2D Blu-ray or DVD.
As a 3D fan myself, I realize that not everyone likes stereoscopic viewing, and heck, even I don’t always want to watch the Blu-ray 3D, which is what makes these expensive uberpacks something worth buying. The problem, though, from Disney’s point of view, stems from the fact that there are a lot of people making a lot of money off of them. With coupons, you can get these discs from Amazon as low as $20 on release week, and people will do that for the superior cover art and bonus material, and then turn right around and sell the 3D disc on Ebay for $15-20. If they piece out the the DVD and the digital copy, too, such consumers often probably even come out ahead of the game. Rentailers like Family Video actively sell off the Blu-rays from combo packs, and sell UltraViolet codes for $5 apiece to boot, so this is certainly not isolated to enterprising individuals.
The problem I have with Disney’s approach to this problem is price. If you’re going to charge me the same money for a stripped down, 3D only Oz as I paid for the deluxe four-format Wreck-It Ralph, that’s a problem. Even if it had UltraViolet instead of a disc-based, iTunes-locked digital copy, I still wouldn’t like it. Yes, Disney is losing out on a bunch of cash to these moochers, no question. While I don’t have a good solution to the problem, if the 3D standalone version were priced at $29.99 retail with a street price of $15-20 for the first week, I’m pretty sure that that would cut the knees off of the re-sellers.
What Disney is doing here, though, is endangering 3D as a format. Our own Dennis Burger often buys the 3D Blu-rays of movies he wants, not so much for the 3D — which he hates — but for the total package. And I would imagine many collectors do the same. That puts more 3D discs in homes, and perhaps even encourages more people to give stereoscopic viewing a try. It’s an option, and options are nice, even for those of us who love 3D.
We’ll see how Disney reacts, or whether this is just a typo when the official press release for Oz the Great and Powerful comes down the PR pipeline in the next few days. But given that the cover artwork is already out there, that doesn’t seem likely.