Who watches the BD-Live? Watchmen gets Facebook friends
Warner Bros and Facebook have formed a superhero team-up to fight crime -- well, to let people chat to their Facebook friends while watching Watchmen, anyway
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Warner Bros has signed up to Facebook so viewers can team up to experience Watchmen using BD-Live, the Internet-connected, interactive Blu-ray feature.
The option to simultaneously watch a film and comment on it via BD-Live is called the community screening feature. Viewers of the Watchmen: Director's Cut Blu-ray disc will now be able to sync their BD-Live buddy list with their friends on Facebook.
To use the feature, you'll need to get the disc, stick it in your BD-Live-enabled Blu-ray player and start watching at the same time as your Facebook friends -- who have to have the same kit. Once you're all watching away, you can share comments on the film, such as "this is my favourite scene", "this looks just like Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic comic, but has an excessive amount of graphic violence", and "why is it so boring?"
Other features on the disc include Warner Bros Maximum Movie Mode, which allows picture-in-picture viewing of certain parts of the film as highlighted in Zack Snyder's director's commentary. This will appear on the disc rather than as part of BD-Live, which is best suited to content updated after the film's release -- such as awards for the film, TV spots by the stars, parodies or discussions of the film -- rather than showing existing content that could have gone on the disc, such as deleted scenes. Sadly, that's what BD-Live has mostly consisted of so far.
Although this is a step in the right direction of making BD-Live
more useful, it's nowhere near a killer feature yet. Snarky chat with your mates while we're trying to watch a film sounds pretty tedious, frankly, but this is clearly aimed at adding value to repeat viewings. With Blu-ray yet to assert itself over DVD in the public consciousness, the format needs a USP more dramatic than 'a better picture'. But chat seems like a blind alley, when there's potential to access so much more content. Like a 'that guy' button, which links to the IMDb pages of whoever's onscreen, for those "Where do I know them from?!" moments.
There is some thought going into Blu-ray extras -- witness the clever overlapping action split-screens and GPS character-tracker display in Vantage Point. We need more of that kind of thinking. If Warner is going to go the chat route, we'd like to see the interactive equivalent of a Watchmen drinking game: take a drink whenever Rorschach hits anyone, two drinks whenever the Comedian lights a cigar, and finish the bottle whenever you see Dr Manhattan's winkie.
Hollywood Reporter reports (from Hollywood) that the standard, no-extras-whatsoever Watchmen DVD will cost $29 (£19), and the Blu-ray director's cut $36 (£23) in late July. UK pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed.
Update:Watchmen will be distributed by Paramount in this country, and not Warners Bros, which means we're unlikely to see this feature. You can't see it, but we're making our 'sad face'.