Suburban Tales VII: Stranger Things, Season 2 (2017)

November 16, 2017 | By

After the Duffer Bros.’ Stranger Things debuted on Netflix last year, the question among many was When Will This Damn Show Be Available to Buy on Physical Media?

The music was released in multiple formats, the composers performed material from their scores live, and yet Season 1 remained elusive, until soon after Season 2’s broadcast last month came an announcement that Season 1 would in fact be available in a Blu-ray / DVD combo edition, packaged in a unique VHS tape design, but available stateside as a Target exclusive.


‘Only in a America, you say? Pity.’


Not long afterwards came news that the first season would also be available as a 4K release in the same grating limited release pattern, and neither release will be shipped outside the U.S. (Note: DigitalBits reports the 4K edition may be less than perfect.)

Why do this to international fans?

The strategies of production companies and studios are a bit of a mess, in the sense someone tends to think one location, one clientele makes the release of a title more exceptional and more financially successful than a wide release. I doubt that strategy works, but perhaps it gives one chain a head start and a greater share of a title’s sales revenue than rivals, who inevitably will follow once – or if – a title goes wide.

If the title doesn’t go wide and remains chain / country exclusive for a good year, well, then it’s an invitation for rips and torrents to flood the globe, and bootlegs to pop up online. Unique packaging and an extra disc of whatever are Target’s standard fare, and that’s fine for fans wanting that one limited special edition instead of the regular standard edition available from regular bricks & mortar and online merchants, but if an exclusive deal remains in place for too long, then Netflix has itself to blame for whatever materializes.

The home video business is trying to find strategies that maximize returns, but sometimes long-term exclusive deals benefit no one. Admittedly this is far in the past, but when James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) was available on Blu-ray 3D exclusively to buyers of Panasonic 3D TVs, it was an exceptionally dumb move. 3D TVs did not fly out of stores, the film remained exclusive for a good year, and that one Blu-ray title sold for about $200 USD on Ebay steadily – the same kind of nonsense that enabled speculators to profit when Disney made not only limited edition tins of their animated shorts, but shipped batches to large merchants, and leftover tiny quantities to indie merchants.

I’m fine with limited editions that meet the demand of the greater body of niche collectors and limited exclusive deals followed by general releases, but keeping things mysterious for too long doesn’t really serve anyone if the wait is too long, and the hunger is too large.

The good news is the music isn’t affected by this nonsense, so my review of Stranger Things: Season 2 will be followed shortly by the score reviews in the coming days, but I had to put my two cents into the complaints jar because Amazon and Netflix are at a crossroads: with highly successful and unique series slowly filling up the first catalogue vaults, the pair will have to examine the degrees of consumer penetration and peak streaming activity from members, exclusive merchant sales, and wide sales versus the grey zone of digital circulation and unlicensed sales of their products.

This isn’t a question of access, but of legit desires by a niche consumer base who want to own product on disc or as digital files, something upon which indie home video labels have built their esteemed reputations, and remain not only solvent, but prolific. There is an obvious difference between a cult Jess Franco sexploitation quickie and a hit network TV series, but we’re still talking about fan bases that want to own; the difference is the wait before a slated broad release, and the unknown that leads to impatience, and simmering ire.

Coming next is reviews of three Woody Allen productions: Take the Money and Run (1969) on Blue from KL Studio Classics / Unobstructed View, September (1987) from Twilight Time, and Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story (1971) from that vast grey zone of wonder, YouTube.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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