Before we go any further, I know what you're going to ask. Why didn't I post any of this information back in 2008 when it might have done you some good? Simply put, I didn't really have a sense of myself as a blogger in 2008. First time machine that comes my way, though, I promise to go back and explain to my 2008 self why he needs to post this then.
Anyway, I thought it might be fun to take a gander at the numerous DVD and Blu-ray release variants Warner Bros. rolled out for The Dark Knight. You may still actually find some of these variants for sale--new--so if you're looking for a clever gift this holiday season for the Bat-fan on your list, you might consider one of these releases that he or she may not even know exists. Don't worry about disc playback. You're not buying for the discs, you're buying for the packaging.
For the sake of convenience, only one format (i.e., either Blu-ray Disc or DVD) is depicted where both were produced. I'll note where a given version was released in only one such format.
Batpod Limited Edition
Fans willing to shell out $65 could (and can) buy The Dark Knight with a limited edition replica of the Batpod. The discs are housed in the big Bat-logo portion of the display. I'm told the Batpod itself is somewhat fragile, so I wouldn't advocate buying this for a younger fan. Currently on sale at Amazon for $46.49.
United States Exclusives
Without a doubt, Best Buy was the place to go for something special with your Dark Knight purchase. Consumers who pre-ordered received their choice of either a Batman or Joker poster. Best Buy had a midnight release event for The Dark Knight, encouraging fans to come dressed in costume and buy lots of goodies. There were two different miniature busts, one of the Batman Cowl and the other of the Joker Mask. Both were available with either the Two-Disc Special Edition DVD or the Blu-ray Disc release (for a total of four different boxes, combining each bust with each format). Best Buy also had miniature statues of Batman and the Joker that could be added to your purchase for $9.99 apiece. Provided, of course, you got hold of one; only a minimum of four Batman and five Joker per store were guaranteed. Also on hand was a Joker playing card, distributed to each consumer who made a relevant purchase.
|Blu-ray Disc with Batman Cowl|
|Two-Disc Special Edition DVD with Joker Mask|
Unfortunately for collectors, The Dark Knight came to DVD just in time to see Circuit City close its doors. During the brief window of time between the release of the title and the closing of the stores, though, there was an exclusive release of the Two-Disc Special Edition DVD (no Blu-ray) with an empty journal and a "Why So Serious?" slipcover. I love the artwork, but never found one of these. In fact, even finding an image of it online is difficult!
|My favorite slipcover|
What's that? Sears had an exclusive? They sure did. It's okay if you missed it, though, because it was just a calendar, given to buyers who bought either the Two-Disc Special Edition DVD or the Blu-ray Disc release. Those sixteen months are long since over. Still, you might wow a dedicated collector by finding one.
|Aaron Eckhart got screwed in this marketing campaign.|
Toys 'R' Us
Target's exclusive was a unique package designed like Batman's mask. The discs are stored inside the mask. Also, there was an exclusive 40 minute long "Batman Unmasked" feature. Available for Two-Disc Special Edition DVD or Blu-ray Disc releases.
Toys 'R' Us
Given the nature of the retailer, it should come as no surprise that Toys 'R' Us offered the only exclusive item that can actually be played with: a Batman projector flashlight. Not terribly thrilling, I know, but it seems to have younger Bat-fans in mind at least.
The previous Steelbook was a German exclusive and can be ordered from Amazon.de here for EUR 28,99.
Of course, if you're going to go to the trouble and expense of ordering an international exclusive for the packaging, you should probably go with the German Premium Collection release. It's in a format called "Digibook" because it resembles a book. They are bound with a hardcover and feature pages of photos, text, etc. and the discs fits into hubs on the inside of the covers. I don't know what's on the pages or what language it's printed in, but I do know this: the bound cover alone would make this the crown jewel of many a Bat-fan's library. Order it here from Amazon.de.
Far and away the highest grossing movie of 2008, and what does the world's largest retailer get? A comic book and a replica of Harvey Dent's coin. It gets worse: these were only packaged with the single-disc DVD. In fairness, the comic book reprints Batman #1 (the first appearance of the Joker) and Detective Comics #66 (the origin of Harvey Kent--not Dent--as Two-Face). It seems to be a companion piece to the comic book offered with the Batman Begins Two-Disc Special Edition DVD that collected a few original issues that helped inspire that film. For variety's sake, you could opt out of the proper Widescreen Edition and choose the Full Frame Edition. Why you would want to is beyond me, of course.
There have been two different Steelbook releases for The Dark Knight. What's a Steelbook? you ask. It's a metal package where the artwork is screened into the case, rather than being an insert. They're pretty popular with hardcore collectors in large part because they hold up very well to shelf wear and partly because they're covered in art from top to bottom, front to back, inside and out.
This one was originally offered in the U.S. by FYE as an exclusive, but will be re-released in Canada on 23 November 2010 and can be ordered from Amazon.ca here. Nice, eh? By the way, the back of the case features the poster art of the Joker in the street.
|If you're shopping for me, this is what I want.|
Lastly, Futureshop (a Canadian retailer) has an Academy Awards Edition Blu-ray release. Their details show it to only include one disc, meaning that either this release omits the second disc of bonus content included in all the other Blu-ray releases or their site is mistaken. I cannot shed any more light on this version, so for all I know this is the same as the mass release, but with a special slipcover. You can pay $19.99 CAN to find out by ordering here.
|What's this one about, anyway?|