Owning a DVD vs. renting; what’s the difference? At present nothing, but very soon that won’t be the case. According to Video Business, in an effort to give DVD sales a boost, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release two different versions of each movie, a premium version and a stripped-down one. The premium editions will be available for purchase and will offer bonus material in addition to the actual film. On the other hand, if you prefer to rent your movies, you’ll only be able to get your hands on the stripped versions, which will offer less material.

Fox has no plan to ease this strategy into effect. It’ll begin with box office heavyweights Marley & Me and Slumdog Millionaire which will be released March 31st. Every title will see different alterations. For example, the Slumdog rental will only come with the film and trailers, while the retail version will also have special features. When it comes to Blu-ray, the rental version will have everything the retail version does except for a digital copy of the film. In the case of Marley & Me, both the retail and rental DVD will have the film and bonus material as will the retail and rental Blu-ray versions. The only difference here is that the rental version of the Blu-ray edition will not come in combo pack form with a DVD movie and digital copy, as does the retail version. Following in Slumdog’s and Marley’s footsteps will be The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Wrestler, Notorious and Bride Wars.

Fox issued this statement addressing their plans: “We have developed product variations to feed different consumer consumption models and behaviors. For rental customers, we’re delivering a theatrical experience in the home while promoting upcoming releases; for retail [or sell-through] customers, we’re offering a premium product that expands the entertainment experience of that particular property to further enhance ownership.” While many do understand Fox’s effort, DVD retailers are already looking for ways to get around the restrictions. A popular method of doing so will be buying premium versions and then renting them out to costumers. Thanks to the First Sale Dotrine, there’s absolutely nothing prohibiting retailers from doing so.

I understand Fox needs to sell more DVDs, but this is not the way to do it. This new policy will only confuse costumers and upset them once they figure out what’s going on. Why not just think a little bit harder and come up with a marketing strategy to make DVDs more appealing to buy rather than rent? Considering there’s no profit without loyal customers, you’d think Fox could be a little more concerned with keeping buyers happy.

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