Which Version Of A Film Should You Buy?

Which Version Of A Film Should You Buy?

“Ownership” of the movies and TV series you purchase has become ever more complex with the advent of triple — and sometimes greater — play sales options. Which approach makes the most financial sense?

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a copy of The Avengers, because, well, I’m notably a big comics movie fanboy. I’ve purchased many movies over the years, and way back in the days of VHS, it was a pretty simple arrangement; head to store, find tape on shelf, purchase. You had one choice, like it or lump it.

That’s not the story today, however, and while it’s nice to have choice, the range of choice — and financial implications behind them — make for some difficult choices.

Take The Avengers as an example. I could buy just a basic DVD. Or a Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack. Or a 3D Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray and Digital copy pack. Or a Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Copy pack. Or a pack containing just a Blu-Ray of The Avengers along with the other Marvel movies that led up to it. Oddly, as far as I can tell, there’s no way to purchase The Avengers just on Blu-Ray; you’ve got to take some form of optional content with it. Each of these were at different price points, so what’s good “value” in that iteration?

It’s also worth noting that it’s perfectly feasible to rent The Avengers through a number of online movie rental/sale services; iTunes at last checking wanted $5.99 for SD rental, $6.99 for HD Rental and $24.99/$26.99 for SD/HD ownership. That doesn’t feel like good value to me, at least on the purchase price, although it does make some of the digital packs good value, at least on paper; it’s the same digital copy at a lower bundled price.

In the end, I opted for the simple Blu-Ray/DVD combo; as I noted in my review I didn’t feel that the addition of 3D added anything significant to the flick, and the DVD copy was a handy addition for my kids, along with being the cheapest single Blu-Ray option. But I’m curious as to what the Lifehacker audience thinks of the triple-play phenomenon. Does the “upsell” of having a digital copy make you part with more cash than you would otherwise, or do you prefer a bare-bones movie approach?

Lifehacker’s weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.


  • I generally go for a Blu-ray/dvd/digital copy combo if possible, unless if it means I have to buy the 3D edition. It’s just convenient to have a digital copy (which I can watch on Apple TV). Although the digital version is often not great quality, it’s perfectly serviceable for casual/bored use 🙂

  • The Double Play, Triple Play etc are just a tool for making people buy movies whilst they are a new release. After a bout 3-6 months when they have a significant drop in price they are just released as a stand-alone Blu-Ray disc, so not at much included valvue as they had when they were a new release.

    That aside I love the Blu-Ray with digital copy option, but I have no use for for the Blu-Ray with DVD version.

  • We recently purchased a movie via digital download through iTunes (HD download) which was initially more expensive than the in-store Blu Ray option, but by using discounted iTunes cards (2 x $20 for $30 from Big W etc.) it worked out cheaper.

    It also means we have a (hopefully!) permanent back up of the movie, and we’re finding these days we want to get our DVDs/BRs into some computer format to watch on any device, rather than just those with a DVD/BR player.

  • I’m waiting for the extended/uncut version of the Avengers to come out.
    This is the frustrating thing about DVD/BR purchases for me these days, as soon as I purchase the movie the directors cut gets release and I’m faced with the option of purchasing the movie again.

  • I only buy the Bluray copy.
    Although alot of local stores force you to buy the Bluray/DVD/Digital combo which is a goddamn joke, especially when it costs alot more to do that.
    One of the reasons i tend to buy from the UK, they tend to have just the Bluray edition for cheaper.

  • Initially I was buying Blu-Ray/DVD combo packs of new releases in case Blu-Ray went bust, then at least I had a DVD copy and wouldn’t have to buy a separate copy on DVD later on should it fail.

    Now, I find that I tend to the go for the version with the most discs (incl. 3D, even though I don’t own a 3D TV), or the most complete version, just because usually it’s only $5-10 more. Should I have access to a 3D TV, then great, I have some movies for it; if not, no great loss, I still have the normal Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy to fall back on.

  • I actually liked the Double Play option when I was living with my parents. It wasn’t exactly rare for me to pick up a movie on BR that I thought they’d enjoy (or they specifically asked if I had a copy). They don’t have a BR player, so being able to loan the DVD was pretty good.

    The digital download has never really seemed necessary to me. The only times I’ve bought Triple Play discs were when they cost the same as the Double Play. Haven’t downloaded a single one yet.

    If I wanted a digital copy, I would rip the movie myself.

    I also skip the 3D stuff entirely. I don’t have a 3DTV nor do I have any interest in getting one.

      • Also, a lot of people might have bluray at home, but not in every room, or in their laptop when travelling, or in their car… i always buy Bluray+DVD for this reason.

        Also, digital copies? the appleTV is hooked up to the 3d plasma, as is the bluray so bluray wins every time, and if i think it’s a good enough movie visually to justify a bluray – chances are a tablet wouldn’t do it justice.

        physical media FTW

  • I got the Blu-Ray/DVD combo (would’ve got Blu-Ray only if I could’ve). I’d never use the digital copy so I wasn’t going to pay an extra $10 for it.
    If I ever want a digital copy I’ll download it.

  • Pro-tip: amazon.co.uk
    Australia is in the same region as Europe for blurays.
    We picked up the Alien quadrilogy for about GBP30. Call it about AU$60, that’s much more attractive than the $120-odd that JB were trying to flog it for.
    Also most BDs are just that – BDs. No double/triple plays. Stupid having a DVD copy anyway – if you’ve gotten the BD, why would you bother with the inferior quality of a DVD?

  • This is the main reason I resist buying movies as soon as they’re released, if at all. Why would I want to pay $45+ for 3 copies of the same movie? How about I give you $15 for the one I want? That’s beside the point that the inclusion of a digital copy should add so negligible a cost that, if you insist on putting it to market, every copy should include one for free, not $10 extra…

    It’s all about forcing you to pay more than you should. Pretty simple.

  • My local video rental store takes the Bluray/Dvd combo packs, takes the Dvd out of them so they have more rentals, and sells the Bluray by itself, brand new, for $15.
    I always hope the movie I want comes out as a combo so I can buy them this way!

  • I usually get the Bluray/DVD combo, as the bluray works in my playstation and bluray player, but for ripping and general watching the DVD version comes into its own and is certainly useful to have.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!