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Marx Bros Restored BD pre-orders are open, plus Warner’s new Middle Earth UCE may leave you feeling scoured like The Shire

August 17, 2016 - 2:09 pm   |   by

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The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection - Restored Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

In addition to the new audio commentaries and legacy Today Show clips we mentioned yesterday, the set also includes an all-new feature-length documentary, The Marx Brothers: Hollywood’s Kings of Chaos, plus a booklet with new essay, entitled The Marx Brothers: From Vaudeville to Hollywood. So great news there (you can click on the image to pre-order it on Amazon)!

Speaking of Amazon, our own Russell Hammond has just posted the weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K cover artwork and pre-order links. And again, using our links here at The Bits to pre-order things from Amazon (or to order literally anything from them at any time) really helps us to keep the site going, so please do and thank you!

Now for today’s not so good news. We haven’t seen an official press release/announcement for this title yet, but remember how we told you (back on 8/1 when the listings first appeared on that Warner was releasing a Middle Earth: Ultimate Collector’s Edition and a new Middle Earth: Theatrical Collection, both on Blu-ray? Each is expected for release on 10/4. The UCE had an SRP listed of $799.99, but we suspected that was an error and that the actual price was $79.99, especially given that the price for the Theatrical Collection was listed as $68.99. [Editor’s Note: Umm… so now it’s starting to look like Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is really actually charging $799.99 for this set. At least per this link, as of the time of this update.] Well… for a brief time this morning a packaging image was available on the Amazon UCE set listing, along with a more detail description of what’s included.

Instead of creating any new content, this appears to be just a re-packaging of all the Ultimate Collector’s Edition discs you probably already own. That’s extremely disappointing, because we happen to know for a fact that great material was specifically collected for an ultimate retrospective documentary on all 6-films that Peter Jackson wanted to create for a set like this… including deleted scenes. (And if you doubt our sources on this, go back and listen to some of his audio commentaries on these discs – he confirms it there.) But Warner seems to have passed on the idea, because it’s not included here. Now, that’s not entirely surprising given some of Warner’s recent Blu-ray catalog decisions. Remember those great Full Metal Jacket and A Clockwork Orange Digibook Blu-ray editions the studio created a few years back? They could have continued with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon, Lolita, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut... but didn’t. In fact, you may recall that Douglas Trumbull wanted to create an elaborate documentary on 2001 called Beyond the Infinite: The Making of a Masterpiece... but Warner didn’t want to pay for it. Instead what we’ve tended to get from the studio on their catalog releases is one or two new featurettes at best or just new  “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” packaging and swag at worst.

So... now at last Warner is about to release a Middle Earth: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set of all six extended films, and what do they give fans? No new disc-based content whatsoever (aside from everything created for both the theatrical and extended releases), but instead just new packaging and swag. Here’s what the new UCE BD set is going to look like (note that this image was pulled down not long after it was posted, but here it is)...

Middle Earth: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Said packaging and swag will include all 30 discs “housed in six stunning faux leather books and a collectible Hobbit-style wood shelf, crafted from solid wood with design selected by Peter Jackson” as well as a “100-page sketch-style book with replica The Red Book of Westmarch, filled with original film sketches and new artwork” and “original reproductions of exquisite watercolor paintings by acclaimed conceptual artists Alan Lee and John Howe.” Which is nice. But again, you have to re-buy everything you already own, just to get exclusive packaging and swag. What’s frustrating about this is that the studio either doesn’t seem to get, or worse care, that a release like this is extremely disappointing to the diehard fans who have loyally collected these releases along the way – the very same people who would most like to get that exclusive packaging but would be most irritated to be asked to re-buy the same damn discs they already own to do so! Personally, we’d rather have the opportunity to buy these Extended films in 4K with HDR and Atmos than be insulted by this SKU. How about doing a true Ultimate Edition with the all-new bonus content fans have been told to expect for years now. This is very, very frustrating and judging by the number of e-mails and private messages we’ve gotten from you guys this morning, a LOT of you feel the same way.

It’s like the Sackville-Bagginses were in charge of coming up with this lame fan-fleecing plan. We’ll tell you this much: It’s for damn sure that no one who is actually a fan of these films… or more importantly a collector of these films on disc… came up with this idea. Ugh.

Anyway, we’ll have to wait for the official press release to confirm all the details, and for all we know this will be an Amazon-exclusive. But there you go.

One last thing this morning: Our own Tim Salmons has just turned in a new review of Synapse Film’s Basket Case 3: The Progeny on Blu-ray Disc. So do check it out.

Now then, we’m working on more new reviews for tomorrow and Friday. So be sure to stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt (@BillHuntBits)