Having recently invested in a new Multi Region Blu Ray player and becoming Region free, I decided to showcase five benefits that being region free has to offer.
No restriction, all the distributors:
A distinction with being multi region is accessibility to a lot of labels that don’t operate within the UK or have only released a small number of titles here. Smaller Labels such as Shout Factory, Kino and Twilight Time offer a great selection of unique films, whilst bigger labels such as Warner Bros and Fox have some title restricted to region A. You’d be surprised at just how many great releases we miss out on due to licencing and distribution restriction.
Not having to wait years to upgrade your DVDS
Now usually newer films get released on both sides of the Atlantic without much hassle, even if us Brits wait for a month or two. However, when studios decide to release their back catalogue in High Definition, in some cases it can take years. Take the classic Robin Williams comedy Mrs Doubtfire for instance; the US Blu Ray came out in 2008, just under a decade ago at the beginning of the Blu Ray’s life cycle. We got our region B release five years later in 2013, with the same disc which could have used an upgrade with the better equipment used on newer Blu Rays.
The Criterion Collection
A major example is Criterion, a label responsible for bringing a significant number of important films to Blu Ray, such as David Lynch’ Eraserhead, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and more recent contemporary films such as Richard Linklaters’ Boyhood and Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper. Any film enthusiast will find at least a handful of titles that they can enjoy with this label, since they cover pretty much everything. Their website is a simple yet comprehensive means of exploring what they have to offer. Being Region-free means that all of their releases are available to you.
Image source: Criterion
Image source: My Personal collection
It is also worth noting that Criterion have recently started releasing titles for the U.K. Market, but the number of titles is minuscule compared to what’s available stateside and communication with the distributors has been limited, so knowing what titles will be released each month is pure guesswork. A forum for UK releases is available here.
That’s all we get?
Often, fancy “Collector’s Editions” are released for certain films. These usually include bonuses such as booklets, artcards and in some cases more tacky add-ons such as the Home Alone paint bucket edition (I kid you not) from Twentieth Century Fox.
Image Source: Twentieth Century Fox
Whilst releases such as that aren’t likely to be missed, there is a plethora of unique and awesome sets which never saw the light of day outside of the USA.
Notable examples include this edition of Zack Snyders’ adaptation Watchmen which includes the Graphic Novel and Motion Comic that was released in 2009 by Warner Bros.
Image source: Warner Bros
There’s also this now OOP Ultimate Edition of Oliver Stones’ historical drama JFK which included reproductions of John F Kennedy’s inaugural address, campaign posters and other interesting artefacts which added to the viewing experience. All we got was the disc and case.
Image source: Warner Bros
Image sources: Warner Bros, Warner Bros UK.
Some CEs have seen a UK release, albeit trimmed down and inferior. Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane saw a 70th Anniversary Edition that we got five years later as a 75th Anniversary Edition which lacked two comprehensive documentary and an incomplete Orson Welles film. Instances such as this are commonplace in the UK Home Media industry, and it’s a real incentive to import and appreciate the best editions of your favourite films and television series’.
Anime lovers this is your lifeline!
The amount of anime you miss out on only being region B is staggering. An extensive library of series’ OVAs and films can only be acquired from US distributors such as Funimation, Sentai Filmworks and Discotek media due to them not having the licences in the UK and Europe. Many classic anime such as CardCaptor Sakura, Lupin the Third and Ranma ½ in HD or on DVD in America, with some titles being difficult for UK companies to licence.
Image sources: Discotek Media, Viz Media, NIS America
It is important to explain however that the aforementioned companies working in the UK such as Anime Ltd and MVM do bring the anime community very well-made releases and can only release so much at a time. This is because anime is a bigger niche in the UK and as such smaller companies handle these products. Also, although the US release of an anime tends to come first, it isn’t always the best version available. Anime Ltd and MVM have put out numerous releases that top the US ones due to additional booklets, better authoring and better packaging/overall design.
So there you have it, five reasons to invest, five ways to watch your collection grow! If you would like information on a recommended multi Region Blu Ray player, then click the link here to read my review of a Sony modded set.
By HW Reynolds