Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition / Film
Anchor Bay is infamous for this. The sheer amount of Limited Editions they've released for the Evil Dead and Halloween movies is mind-boggling.
The Evil Dead films are likely the best example of this trope. Excluding the VHS/DVD releases from Elite Entertainment (who owned the rights to the films before Anchor Bay), Evil Dead and its sequel were released four separate times for DVD, and will be released in 2010 as a deluxe Blu-Ray set. Every DVD release has had features that are unique, plus special packaging for each. Now that Anchor Bay no longer owns Evil Dead 2, Lionsgate was left in charge of the 25th Anniversary Blu Ray.
At the Turn of the Millennium, when the format was still new, Anchor Bay managed to license several live-action Disney films from 1979 through 1985, including The Black Hole, The Watcher in the Woods, and Return to Oz, and took the trouble to gather/create sometimes-extensive bonus content for them. Disney eventually reacquired the rights to these titles, but did not port over most of the special features for their in-house releases.
Similar to the Disney case, the Anchor Bay releases of Supergirl had as many as three different cuts of the film (U.S., international, director's) plus a director's commentary track, storyboards set to music, teasers, trailers and TV ads, the original promotional featurette, etc. When Warner Bros. acquired the film in 2006, their DVD release included only the international cut, the commentary, and one trailer. By comparison, Lionsgate ended up with the same producers and director's Santa Claus: The Movie and ported over the similarly-elaborate Anchor Bay release in its entirety, down to the menus (and tacking on trailers for other Lionsgate Christmas-themed movies before the main menu).
Universal did this a lot during the 1990s with the Signature Collection Laserdiscs. Each film is presented in THX and has at least 1 hour of bonus features, in addition to either a commentary track or an isolated score track. The E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial set contains a deleted cameo by Harrison Ford not on any other home video version, in addition to a 24K gold CD of the film's soundtrack.
Each The Lord of the Rings movie was released as a vanilla DVD followed by a four-disc special edition a couple of months later. Advertised in the 2 disc set, no less, eloquently informing the buyer that, yes, they stink. A couple years later, Limited Edition versions of the films were released, containing a brand-new documentary on each disc, which also featured the standard and extended editions. Yet, there's still more deleted footage that hasn't shown up on any edition yet. As a knowing nod to the double-dip, the director's commentary on the four-disc special edition features joking comments by Peter Jackson that more features and footage will be in the (fictional?) 25th Anniversary Version.
The first Blu-Ray set contained nothing more than the theatrical version of each movie in HD, and the bonus features that accompanied those versions' initial DVD releases. A 15-disc box set of the extended versions came a little over a year later.
And now, there's a combined box set of the extended editions of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit on 30 Blu-Ray discs, in leatherbound cases sitting on a wooden shelf, as well as a complete version of the Red Book of Westmarch. All yours for the nifty price of $800.
The special edition of Memento (released a year after the Vanilla Edition) added the ability to watch the movie in chronological order...despite the fact that this was already possible via an Easter Egg on the original DVD.
The Star Wars movies have been released several times over the years in numerous editions (although, many of them have been double-dip releases). The various VHS releases of the films contained a boatload of extra material, including BTS documentaries, trailers, and (in the case of the laserdisc edition) a hardcover book chronicling Lucas' work. Some editions are the original theatrical films from with nothing more then video and sound clean up, no actual changes.
The Special Editions of all six films were released on Blu-Ray in a massive collection, complete with even more BTS footage that hasn't seen the light of day until now. However, the exclusion of the theatrical versions has led to this set being boycotted in favor of various unaltered releases ranging from Pan and ScanVanilla Editions all the way to the Definitive Collection Laserdiscs.
Almost Famous was available in the regular edition (theatrical release only) and a 2-disc plus audio CD "Bootleg edition"- 3-hour director's cut with commentary, Cameron Crowe's original "Rolling Stone" articles, theatrical version, and half a dozen songs by the film's fictional band.
When the film Blade Runner turned 25, a new 5-disc Blu-ray, HD-DVD and DVD set came with just about every conceivable version version of the film - the original cut (rated and unrated), the director's cut, the final cut and a workprint with placeholder music and alternate shots everywhere. It also came with some nice Feelies like an origami unicorn, a model Spinner, a matchstick man, an artbook, a holographic plate and a keyring all packed in a nice futuristic-looking suitcase. This was partly in response to debate in the fanbase over which of the many editions was better. Studio to the rescue!
For the 30th Anniversary, Warner Bros. released a box set and a Digibook simultaneously, which compressed the five discs of the previous set down to three (combining disc 2, 4 and 5 into one), and also included a stills gallery with 1,000 images of various storyboards, concept art, scrapped sequences and even scribblings from the director himself in glorious HD.
The Ultimate Matrix Collection is perhaps the Holy Grail of the Ultimate Special Collector's Edition concept: not only do you get all three films, but the DVD commentaries on each film are provided by well-known members of the philosophical communities — along with seven extra discs providing a massive art gallery, almost sixteen hours of 'behind the scenes' documentaries, The Animatrix (an anthology of nine short films), and an extremely-detailed archive of production assets, music videos, TV spots, and concept artwork. When it says 'Ultimate Matrix Collection', that's exactly what you're getting.
If you can believe it, there were three different variations of the "Ultimate Collection: the regular version, a set that came with a collectible bust of Neo, and a Hot Toys exclusive version with a massive replica of the Nebuchanezzar.
Warner Home Video releases several films in "Ultimate Collector's Editions," which package the movie together with such memorabilia as books and soundtracks. In an irksome move, the initial Blu-Ray releases of some movies (such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Casablanca) are released only as Ultimate Collector's Editions, which means consumers who want HD versions of certain films have to fork over about $70 or wait months until Warner releases the discs by themselves.
Warner has started pulling movies out of print months before they receive Ultimate Collector's Editions, making the old, cheaper versions harder to find.
An Amazon-exclusive version of the Citizen Kane 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition added a DVD of Orson Welles' second movie, The Magnificent Ambersons, to the large array of extras. This marked the first time The Magnificent Ambersons became available to own on DVD.
Disney was also fond of combining "Special Edition" and "Disney Vault" hype into the even more meaningless "Now available for the first time ever on two-disc DVD!" referring to a movie that has already been released as a one-disc DVD and on VHS prior to that, often with decent special features.
Disney plays the trope straighter than most with the Disney Vault, keeping their movies rotating in and out of circulation constantly. So yeah, that movie heading into the Vault will be back... but not until enough kids have been born who've never gotten to see the movie and whose parents can be counted on to buy it for them. If you want to buy it in the mean time, better find someone who stocked up on copies and hasn't sold them all yet, because they're legitimately not making any more for now. (Keep in mind any movie that's in "the vault" can probably be bought at an online retailer any time you want. Gotta love a company that resorts to fearmongering to sell DVDs.)
Sometimes, Disney also released pricey box sets of the Diamond Editions. Snow White had one containing a book and some drawings and pins, and The Lion King had 3-D, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy versions packaged with DVD and Blu-ray copies of the sequels inside a drum.
Disney still goes out of their way to make special chain-specific versions of their Blu-rays/DVDs. For starters, Enchanted and Frozen each came with Target-exclusive DVDs containing exclusive bonus features, and various DVD/Blu-Ray combo packs have digibooks sold only through them.
Disney is fond of doing a variation on this before the movie is even out on video: They're the owners of Hollywood's El Capitan Theater, and screenings of their movies there usually feature a bevy of bonus stuff that you'd never see at any other venue. Beyond the sheer appeal of seeing the movie in a huge, ornate movie palace, they usually open several days early, have the El Capitan decked out in decorations themed to the film, feature a special live appearance by character(s) from the featured movie, and for an extra fee, you can eat breakfast with a character before your screening. Needless to say, tickets are rather high-end. This is probably the only instance of a Limited Edition that really is limited; once the movie exits theaters, you probably won't ever see that extra stuff again.
One VHS release that would also qualify for this trope is the Walt Disney Classics release of Fantasia in 1991, which had a separate Collector's Box (which cost more than the standalone tape) that contained a "Making of a Masterpiece" documentary tape and several other bonuses such as the film's soundtrack in addition to the film itself. The semifinal release in the Classics line, Aladdin, also had a Collector's Box with a short documentary on the film's creation and the film's soundtrack.
The Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection re-released several Disney movies on VHS, with new documentaries attached. Some of the LaserDiscs in the line also had "Deluxe Editions" with more extras.
The Exclusive Archive Collection was a Laserdisc-exclusive specialty line that often has many extras that went missing from the features' later releases. This line's release of Saludos Amigos was the only way to watch it in the US for years.
WALL•E was sold by Amazon UK in a special exclusive edition with a matching slinky. At least they didn't charge any extra for it.
Some copies of Up came with a working replica of the Luxo Jr. lamp seen in Pixar's Vanity Plate, with a base that could display up to eight Blu-Ray Discs. (By the time of this set's release, six Pixar movies received Blu-Ray releases, and a compilation of HD shorts came out as well.)
After Toy Story 3 came to Blu-Ray and DVD, the Toy Story trilogy received a 10-disc setnote containing Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital Copy versions of each movie and the extra features disc of Toy Story 3 packaged in a replica of Andy's toy box. Despite the high disc count, the door still seems open for anotherLimited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition of the trilogy; the 3-D versions and some of the extras from 2000's "Ultimate Toy Box" DVD are not included.
Almost anything released by The Criterion Collection counts as a Limited Collector's Edition. Films ranging from Armageddon all the way to masterpieces like The Seven Samurai and The Last Emperor have received extravagant presentations, some sets even spanning three or four discs. This dates all the way back to the laserdisc era, when Criterion pioneered the "Special Edition" releases of classic films like Lawrence of Arabia and Citizen Kane. Some Criterion laserdisc releases (like The Fisher King and Pulp Fiction, for example) have contained extras that have never been ported to the DVD format. Another great example is the Criterion set for Terry Gilliam's Brazil, which has three different cuts of the movie just to drive home the suckness of Executive Meddling.
The Alien films may be one of the heavyweights of this trope, as they have been released in various collector's editions over the years. One of the earliest was the "Facehugger" boxset, a VHS release that contained the letterbox versions of the films, the Making Of Alien³, pins, a certificate of authenticity and a pass to the Alien War attraction in England. This was all contained in a box that had a facehugger wrapped around the frame of the case it was stored in. The Alien Legacy boxset included rare collector cards, the Alien Quadrilogy boxset put all four films in a nine-disc set (complete with a Japanese variant that had an Alien head bust), and currently the Alien Anthology set, which basically takes every extra feature from all the past releases and puts it together in a case that is an alien crawling around a facehugger egg.
Showgirls was re-released as a "VIP Edition" which included, among other things: Shotglasses, playing cards, a "pin the pasties on the topless Elizabeth Berkeley" game, drinking game rules, a commentary track by a creepy superfan of the movie, and a short lapdancing tutorial from two girls of Scores. It's all part of the publisher's attempt to re-market the movie as a Rocky Horror-esque camp classic.
The Ultimate Superman Collection contains the obvious films, namely the four Christopher Reeve films, Superman Returns, and expanded editions of Superman and Superman II, but also a boatload of extras including Superman and the Molemen, the pseudo-pilot to The Adventures of Superman, a formerly unreleased pilot to a rejected children's show known as The Adventures of Superpup, remastered Superman Theatrical Cartoons, and tons of other interviews and documentaries that only the most hard-core fans would actually bother watching. This set later came to Blu-Ray as The Superman Motion Picture Anthology, containing all of the above and a rare alternate opening to Superman Returns. They even managed to upgrade some of the bonus features to HD, along with the movies.
Kingdom of Heaven has two versions: The normal, two-disc one, and the 4-disc Director's Cut. Two of the four Director's Cut discs contain a massive documentary on the film, along with other special features. It's also Vindicated by Cable.
Avatar fans who wanted to own the film with special features had to wait nearly a year following its theatrical release. A Vanilla Edition came out on Earth Day 2010, as opposed to November for something more elaborate. And a version on 3D Blu-ray didn't drop until 2011. But even then, you could only experience it if you bought a Panasonic 3-D TV, because they had exclusive rights to put it out.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, as expected for Square's most prolific cash cow, has seen no less than three releases (at least in the west). The basic version already included some interesting and typical special features, but the later collector's edition added the Last Order OAV, a short tie-in novel, and some artwork cards. Then at last came Advent Children Complete, a re-cut of the movie with a new soundtrack in places, reordered and additional scenes to add to character development (and fill plot holes), and extended fight scenes even more than they already were.
The first two American Pie films were released multiple times over the years, to the point that if you wanted all the extras (and a documentary), you had to buy the films multiple times. The original film was first released in a Collector's Edition (in rated and unrated formats), then in an "Ultimate Edition" (also rated/unrated, with a few extra features that weren't available on the previous release), and finally as a package with a (now out-of-print) documentary called "Beneath The Crust" (which had deleted scenes and extra footage you couldn't get anywhere else). That's not even taking into account the rare "Trilogy" boxset that came with a limited edition t-shirt!
Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight had several bonuses that could only be received from different retail stores. BB was released in vanilla, two-disc (which came with a limited edition comic book) and limited edition sets (which had a USB drive, sneak peek at The Dark Knight, postcards and a lenticular print). Going to Target or Best Buy would get you different sets of postcards (and with Best Buy, you would also get a extra lenticular print), and buying the set on Blu-Ray would get you an additional comic book as well.
TDK needs its own bullet point, because there are an ungodly amount of exclusive items that are only available in certain regions, and may make the film one of the largest examples of this trope in action (barring any additional releases in the future). Buying the film at any one of the various U.S. brick-and-mortar stores would either get you a special "Joker Journal" and Joker playing card (Circuit City), a special mini-Joker or mini-Batman collectible head (Best Buy), a special comic book and Two-Face replica coin (Wal-Mart), Batman head packaging (Target), or miniature Bat-Pod Blu-Ray set. Plus, there was a special "Screening Edition" that was only out to Academy Award voters (that came in a custom-made attache case), and a German Blu-Ray set that had a piece of lucite with the Batpod etched in it!
Zig-zagged with the complete trilogy set. It was first released in a "limited edition" gift set that included the movies and a book excerpt showcasing promo material for the trilogy. Nothing else beyond that unless you happened to have the Blu-ray set which retained the bonus discs for BB and TDK. Then, just a year later, Warner put out the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" on Blu-ray, which not only have the movies and the aforementioned bonus discs, but a larger book showcasing film stills and promo shots, collectible reproduction of Batman's vehicles from all three films, a letter from Christopher Nolan, six exclusive villain prints from Mondo, and an exclusive bonus disc that includes a documentary about the making of the trilogy, the complete IMAX sequences from TDK and TDKR, and a conversation between Nolan and Richard Donner, the director of Superman: The Movie.
The 30th Anniversary laserdisc packaged the movie with several bonus features (among others, a commentary by director Robert Wise and the 87-minute documentary From Fact to Phenomenon), a book about the process of adapting the libretto into a Hollywood screenplay, and a Gold CD of music from the movie (which contained some versions and pieces unavailable on any other release of this movie's soundtrack).
The 45th Anniversary Limited Edition Collector's Set included two copies of the movie (one Blu-Ray and one DVD), a bonus Blu-Ray that contained over 12 hours of bonus features (ranging from almost all of the extras Fox included on the 30th Anniversary laserdisc and the 40th Anniversary DVD, to features about Austria itself and the other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals), a 17-song CD, a souvenir program, a production scrapbook, and a music box.
The 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition repackaged the two Blu-Ray Discs and the DVD with the hour-long retrospective The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg and a CD of international songs.
When Underworld first came out on DVD, it was labeled as the "Special Edition", despite not having much extras and, absurdly, being the ONLY edition available. Despite this, an "Unrated Extended Cut" was released six months later anyway.
Help! was released in a special collectors' edition (costing £50 as opposed to £15 for the standard edition) which came in an A4 (210mm*297mm)*50mm box; for that extra £35 one got reproductions of the lobby cards, publicity posters and shooting script, plus a "Making Of" book.
The Cars movies have one spanning 11 discs and containing both films plus the direct-to-video Compilation MovieMater's Tall Tales on DVD, Bluray and digital copy (9 discs each), plus a 3D Bluray of Cars 2 and an extra disc of bonus content for that film, all in a fancy looking box.
Not only the James Bond series gets some re-releases (Casino Royale (2006) itself has the one, two, and three disk editions)... but a few decide to offer the first 22 movies in a case (a model known in some countries as a "007 case", to increase the pun) instead of a box.
The "Dream Machine Suitcase" edition of Inception is one of the rare cases that has variations between the different regional releases (making some versions more limited than others). The base set includes a Blu-Ray combo pack, spinning top replica, PASIV (the suitcases used in the film) manual and art cards. The German edition is the only one that includes steelbook packaging for the film itself (in addition to the standard briefcase). The Canadian version has different art cards, and it (along with the U.S. edition) include a physical copy of the prequel comic (The Cobol Job) that is not included on any other release.
In the US, Planet Terror and Death Proof were initially released separately on DVD, minus nearly all of the fake trailers. Fans who wanted the full Grindhouse experience they got in theaters had to wait for the Blu-ray version, despite it being available in Japan on DVD.
Did you avoid the Vanilla Edition of Watchmen in favor of the "Director's Cut?" Well, you can buy that one and find a flyer inside advertising an even bigger version of the film with the animated "Black Freighter" footage included! D'oh!
Then, years later, Warner re-released the Ultimate Cut and Motion Comics together with the theatrical version and a hardcover copy of the original comic.
The Twilight films have gone a bit round and round on this one:
The first film had the standard two-disc edition with decent features, a Walmart"exclusive" single-disc edition with pretty much no features, a Target three disc edition with fan-specific features on the bonus disc, and a Borders two disc collector's edition with exclusive features on the second disc, in addition to the regular ones.
New Moon went a bit overboard, with the standard two-disc, the Walmart "Ultimate Fan" edition, the Borders two-disc, the Target two-disc, the Best Buy metal case. And there wasn't one edition with everything (unless they put it on the Blu-Ray) - for instance, the Target edition had deleted scenes, while the Borders edition had the extended scenes.
Eclipse was pulled back a bit, with just a couple of collector's edition, with the Borders-style one being released by Target, for some reason, and a bit less of the features-dispersal.
Serenity had a quite decent DVD release...if you didn't count the llamas on the cover and River looking nothing like herself at all. But the features were quite nice. When the Collector's Edition was released, Joss Whedon referred to "new key art" as one of the major draws...and he was absolutely right. Plus there were many nifty new features.
The last five entries in the Harry Potter film series are released in a vanilla edition and a two disc edition with more features. Then come the Ultimate Editions: three disks (two for the fifth and sixth movies) featuring an extended cut and more extras, a book, and trading cards in a neat packaging. Then, in December 2011, all versions of each Harry Potter movie went out of print, with a set containing all eight movies and even more bonus features in 2012.
The "Wizard Edition" mentioned above comes to 31 discs: DVD, Blu-Ray, digital copy, additional features, various collectibles, and a really nifty box. At CostCo, it was actually cheaper than buying the films individually.
A cheaper version called the Harry Potter Hogwarts Collection was released in 2014 that also contains 31 disks but without all the physical extras and in a slightly less nifty box.
The Last Airbender has three Blu-ray releases - a barebones edition with just the movie on a single Blu-ray Disc, a two-disc version with the movie and special features on the Blu-ray, plus a DVD version that also had a digital copy, and the Blu-ray 3D version, containing just the 2D and post-converted 3D versions of the movie on a single disc with no special features. The 3D version was only available at Best Buy for a time.
The movie version of West Side Story has a Special Edition DVD containing an hourlong documentary, an option to watch the movie with intermission (left off of older VHS and laserdisc copies), some trailers and storyboards, and even a copy of the screenplay. The 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-Ray dropped the screenplay, but added a commentary with Stephen Sondheim, some more interviews, plus a CD of cover songs and a book with biographies of cast and crew members. Unfortunately, each of these sets presents the movie with a different kind of Digital Destruction, making them less desirable to fans.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe re-packages each Phase in a Blu-Ray boxset that also includes a disc of never-before-seen bonus features (mostly deleted scenes), previews of upcoming movies, replicas of files and mementos, and a replica of an Infinity Stone.
Planet of the Apes: 20th Century Fox released 'The Ultimate Collection' a set of everything in the franchise up to that point: the original films, the two TV series, the Tim Burton remake, a couple documentaries and some bonus booklets packaged inside a bust of the character of Caesar. It remains to be seen if they'll do another after the reboot films are all out or not.
They've done several releases of the original films as well, both on video and later on DVD. The Legacy Collection, 5 movie collection (with Rise of the Planet of the Apes) or the 40th Anniversary collection are all good for those who can't afford the big set.
The Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection Blu-Ray set came in two flavors in the UK. Both include all 14 of the Hitchcock-directed movies in Universal's library (among others, Rear Window, Vertigo, and The Birds) and hours of bonus features. The more expensive one adds reproductions of storyboards, script pages, correspondance, concept art, and posters. Americans didn't get any of the reproductions, but did get an option to watch Vertigo with its original theatrical soundtrack, plus another disc, containing North By Northwest (which actually belongs to Warner Bros.) and a handful of additional bonus features.
Forrest Gump got a 15th Anniversary box set that not only had the movie, on either DVD or Blu-Ray, but also a feather bookmark, a production booklet, and it came in a box that looked like a box of chocolates and had a sheet on the inside that was scented like chocolates.
The Ten Commandments has a gift set that comes in a box with a picture of the Red Sea. "Part" open the box, and find a reproduction of the eponymous tablets, which opens to reveal the movie on both Blu-Ray and DVD, a Blu-Ray of the 1923 silent film, and a 75-minute documentary on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The set also comes with a book about the making of the movie, costume sketches, and various mementos.
Lawrence of Arabia had a 50th anniversary gift set containing a Blu-Ray of the movie sourced from a 4K restoration, two discs' worth of extra bonus features, a coffee table book, a CD of the soundtrack, and one frame of a 70mm print.
The Back to the Future franchise celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first movie, and the arrival of the "futuristic" date the characters visited in the second film, with the boxset Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures. It includes all three movies on either DVD or Blu-Ray, the complete animated series on DVD, hours of bonus features, and an abridged version of the book Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, packaged together in a light-up box resembling the Flux Capacitor.
The LEGO Movie must be one of those films that Warner Home Video is trying to milk for all it's worth. When the movie first came to home video in June 2014, there were at least five different editions:
The standard Blu-ray/DVD combo pack
The "Everything is Awesome" Edition containing a figure of Vitruvius and a 3D copy of the movie
An edition sold at Target that features the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and a character guide
A standard 3D Blu-ray combo pack with the 2D Blu-ray and DVD copies
An edition sold at Wal-Mart comes with a bonus episode of Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu
An edition sold exclusively on WBShop that expands on the "Everything is Awesome" edition by throwing in an exclusive cinch bag and sticker sheet
For Black Friday 2015, Target took the standard Blu-ray/DVD combo pack Up to Eleven with "The SPECIAL Special Edition." It includes not only the 2D Blu-ray and DVD copies, but a bonus Blu-ray disc that includes special features such as a Wizard Team Go! short, deleted scenes, The Lego HISHE, an "Insider's Guide" featurette, The Lego Movie in 90 Seconds, and a new commentary. Guess there's a reason they added two "specials" in the title.
The Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released on a 2-disc set, with the first disc featuring audio commentary, and the second disc featuring a bunch of special features (including scenes deleted from the Director's Edition and extended scenes from the ABC broadcast and "Special Longer Edition" VHS version of the film). This was followed by a Director's Edition of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was also a 2-disc set; the success of these releases led Paramount to release the rest of the film series (up to Star Trek: Nemesis at the time) in 2-disc "Special Collector's Edition" packages. All of the films had previously been released as vanilla-edition DVDs, except for The Motion Picture.