There is a chain of buzzwords—collector's edition, anniversary set, director's cut, unrated cut, extended version, digitally remastered, Digibook, etc.—that studios slap on DVD and Blu-ray cases to tempt you to buy the same movies over and over again. Some are worth the upgrade—especially if it is a first-time purchase of a movie you like—but many of those double dips are just the studio returning to the well one too many times. Read on and decide if you want to skip or double dip this month.
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy—Extended Editions:
Is this truly the one version of Peter Jackson's film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels that rules them all? The epic fantasy about a Hobbit's journey through the lands of Middle Earth on a quest to destroy the One Ring before the dark Lord Sauron can find it has already been released on DVD in both theatrical and extended versions, as well as on Blu-ray (theatrical only). All of the versions—both DVD and Blu-ray—contain hours of exhaustive extras.
What's New?: Aside from having the extended versions of the movies themselves in high definition for the first time, all of the extras are the same as the DVD extended edition. The only additional bonus is that digital copies of each movie are included in case—for reasons this writer can't begin to fathom—you want to watch a Lord of the Rings movie on an iPhone, which would probably look like Ant Wars.
Skip or Double Dip?: Splurge if you want the definitive version of The Lord of the Rings in high definition, but those just seeking fresh bonus material should keep their previous precious set.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Ultimate Edition and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Ultimate Edition:
With the final Harry Potter movie—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2—about to open in theaters, you can't blame Warner Bros. for trying to squeeze as much juice out of the boy-wizard series as it can. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released on Blu-ray in 2009 and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out on BD in 2007, both with extensive supplements.
What's New?: These two Ultimate Editions port of all the extras from the previous Blu-ray release and each add one hour-long "Creating the World of Harry Potter" documentary. Half-Blood Prince has "Magical Effects" and Order of the Phoenix has "Evolution."
Skip or Double Dip?: If you already own the movies on Blu-ray, why would you buy them again for yet another making-of featurette? Skip it.
Jackass 3.5: The Unrated Movie:
With the recent tragic death of Ryan Dunn in the news, everyone has Jackass on the brain. Even though it was just release in March (!) on DVD and Blu-ray, now we have an extended version of Jackass 3 a few short months later that is available exclusively at Best Buy.
What's New?: In addition to a much longer cut of the movie with mostly throwaway material that gets repetitive, Jackass 3.5 has the same extras as the previous version plus the six-minute "Jackass European Tour" as well as the 40-minute retrospective "Jackass: The Beginning."
Skip or Double Dip?: If you're a true jackass for Jackass, you'll want this new version because it contains some of the last footage of Dunn that fans will ever see as well as a retrospective on the fearless pranksters. Casual fans should probably skip it—there is nothing you can't live without here.
Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology:
This handsome collection of all five Superman movies—Superman, Superman II, Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Superman Returns—is a must-own set for Man of Steel fans. Both the original and extended cut of the first movie are included on two separate BDs, as well as the theatrical cut and the Richard Donner cut of Superman II.
What's New?: The first Superman and the Richard Donner cut of Superman II have been available on Blu-ray for years, as has Bryan Singer's more recent Superman Returns. This set has the Blu-ray debuts of the theatrical Superman II cut as well as Superman III and Superman IV. There are several excellent feature-length documentaries included as well as additional bonus features not available in the DVD incarnations, such as a long-forgotten scene with Otis feeding a pit of Luthor's wild cats in Superman, the "Return to Krypton" sequence from Superman Returns and "The Science of Superman" featurette that originally aired on the National Geographic Channel in 2006.
Skip or Double Dip?: Some people will argue that the only decent Superman movies were the first two by Donner. If this is your feeling and you own Donner's Blu-ray cuts, this set won't be worth the upgrade to you. If you're more forgiving of the weaker entries in the series and can't get enough background info on Krypton's finest, you'll need this entire set—not just a pick or two of the litter.