the Video Recordings Act 1984

Film  Despite all of my plans to save it until after completing various other viewing projects and displacement activities, I finally watched The Avengers (Assemble) this evening and can categorically state it's my favourite film of the year, leapfrogging over The Dark Knight Rises which looks decided po-faced in comparison and Margaret's extended version which held the title in the week since I've seen it, despite its own release slippage.

Conscious that there may still be a few people who haven't seen the thing I'll not talk too much more because it's best experienced with the visceral surprise of not quite believing how good it is, except to say that it's a tragedy Phase Two doesn't have a Black Widow film in its mix (even though it could be made comparatively cheaply an Elektra sized budget) and that all the other studios with Marvel licenses are stupid not to jump on its coat tails.

Of course the more curious element on the BD release is the whole extras situation which I previously muttered about here.  The ensuing box set is indeed a collection of the previously released blu-rays without their supplementary discs (some of which were just 3D or dvd editions anyway) but it is rather gorgeous as a piece of merchandise and seeing all of those films together does still feel like "mission accomplished".

There isn't a commentary.  Sainsburys does indeed have the monopoly on the longer documentary, what amounts to an extended trailer for which is on the Avengers disc along with a really funny new One Shot, an extremely funny gag real and some deleted scenes which for once are entirely superfluous to the main feature and explain for themselves why they were cut, mainly because they're character beats which should be in sequels.

But there is hope, and in an unlikely form.  It turns out that one of the scenes has been cut or at least has an alternative version of a scenes, something which will immediately jump out at those of you who've seen it once, twice or more times than me.  It appears that while the BBFC passed the film without cuts not all European countries did and that's the version which has been released across the continent and to us.

Which means that the version that's in the shops hasn't been seen or passed by the BBFC which means it could be in contravention of the Video Recordings Act 1984, ironically because it's less full on than the cut that appeared in cinemas.  According to this tweet, the BBFC are investigating which indicates that this isn't something they were aware of until they presumably received a barrage of communications today.

As I see it there are a two options or results:

(1)  The fantasy:  Disney are in contravention of the Video Recordings Act 1984 and have to remove the discs from sale, a potential option being to replace them with the US version which is being released next week, the upside for the consumer being more extras including the commentary which apparently wasn't being included due it "not being recorded in time" with those of us who have the illegal disc being offered replacements of that edition.

Problem:  the extra extras also haven't been passed by the BBFC including said commentary so that would have to wait.  In addition the discs would still have to be manufactured to reflect the BBFC certification rather than the MPAA which will be hugely expensive and wouldn't necessarily be much quicker than producing the same bog standard disc but with a different transfer on it.

(2)  Reality:  Disney submit the new cut to the BBFC for rushed reclassification.  The BBFC decide that the current 12 certificate is still valid so Disney can just keep on selling the same discs.  Problem solved, for them at least.  Unless the BBFC decide to fuck 'em and award it a PG because it's less violent.  I can't imagine Loki's use of colourful metaphor is likely to have much relevance and the swearing is surprisingly low key.

At this point it looks like I'll be hanging around around a bit for the US version (assuming its multi-region) to filter onto ebay at cheaper prices.  Or the inevitable UK double dip edition when it turns up in Amazon's sale in a few year's time ... [many links via]

Again we ask, does Joss know about all of this?

Updated!  Disney's line (as linked from this Whedonesque thread) is that the censored version on the disc is the same as the one in the cinemas which is pretty bizarre given that people who saw the film multiple times in auditoriums will remember full well what they saw so they're trying to convince a couple of hundred thousand people that they didn't see what they thought they saw.  Plus the BBFC includes it as part of their assessment.

It's not uncommon for people to be convinced of having seen gruesome scenes in films.  Someone did a survey once of what people thought was the most gruesome moment in cinema and many listed the ear reduction in Reservoir Dogs during which, crucially, Tarantino pans away so we're left imagining the act.  Psycho's shower scene has a similar effect during which we don't see the knife enter Janet Leigh.

The really odd thing is that the story broke today after presumably the check discs went out to magazine and website reviewers and they don't seem to have clocked anything because if they had we would have heard about it before people went into shops to buy a copy.  More to come on this presumably and a shame because its overshadowing the film as a piece of art in a similar way to the Let The Right One In subtitle debarkle of a few years ago ... I'm off to bed.

Updated 18/09/2012  Just to complicate matters a bit more the BBFC have issued a statement saying the information for the DVD/BD on their website accidentally replicated the ones for the theatrical release and that the DVD/BD version was the one resubmitted, which knocks out out the VRA issue sadly.  But the "censor" details say that it was "passed without cuts" which suggests it was this edited version that was submitted, the edited version which Disney are still saying was the version in the cinemas even through the BBFC website helpfully mentions that exact scene in its theatrical notes related to the original 12A certification and there are thousands of fans who all can't be wrong about the evidence of their eyes.

Updated 19/09/2012  Speargate tumbles on.  Bleeding Cool reports a new statement from Disney which says that "another region’s elements were inadvertently used to create the UK in home release which minimally altered this scene in the film".  So indeed it's not the same film on the BD as appeared in cinemas as was previously stated.  "We thank our fans for their vigilance in recognizing this and apologize for the mix up" before saying nothing about whether the title's going to be withdrawnor whether we'll all be able to get a replacement with the correct version of the film on.  Or the US version with the commentaries and so forth by way of apology [via].

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