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Want 'Millionaire' Extras? You'll Need a Few Extra Bucks

By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 12:00 AM

Unless you have spent the past five months living in some remote, "Jai Ho"-free corner of the world, you are probably familiar with the phenomenon that is "Slumdog Millionaire." I say phenomenon because the film, which at one point seemed destined for a straight-to-DVD release, has succeeded on virtually every metric by which Hollywood judges movies. It earned eight Academy Awards, heaps of critical praise and -- perhaps most importantly in this revenue-obsessed industry -- more than $292 million in worldwide box office bucks.

So what's the next conquest? Potentially DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray (39.99), where the kinetic and colorful rags-to-rupees story makes its debut today, with a bit of a twist.

Using a new targeted distribution model, Fox Home Entertainment has included bonus material solely on "Slumdog Millionaire" DVDs and Blu-ray discs that are available for purchase. Anyone who rents the film will see a few trailers, the feature itself and that's it. Other upcoming Fox releases will follow modified versions of this same model, according to Home Media Magazine.

The studio released a statement that attempted to explain the decision, using language that seems to have been borrowed from the Business Speak Handbook: "We have developed product variations to feed different consumer consumption models and behaviors." No one at the studio was available to comment or answer the obvious question: "Um, what the heck does that mean?"

Putting industry implications and "consumption models" aside, here's the bottom line for all of us hungry DVD viewers: if you don't have a lot of cash handy and aren't already madly in love with director Danny Boyle's sprawling Mumbai drama, just rent "Slumdog."

Only two extras rise to the level of outstanding: the twelve deleted scenes, which add a few additional rich details to the existing narrative and feature more scenes with Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, and the informative, relentlessly upbeat commentary from Boyle and star Dev Patel. The rest -- including a 22-minute making-of featurette, a second commentary track from producer Christian Colson and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and the unnecessary "Slumdog Cutdown," which compresses the film into a five-minute montage -- are perfectly adequate, but not engaging enough to merit a purchase.

The Blu-ray also boasts a digital copy of the film and one fun exclusive, a behind-the-scenes (or is it behind-the-outhouse-door?) look at how the toilet scene was shot. But the main bit of breaking news there can be summed up in one comforting sentence: The kid was actually covered in chocolate and peanut butter.

"Slumdog Millionaire" is a decent enough DVD for those who have healthy, disposable incomes and plan to watch the film more than once. But for the many Americans forced to be more choosy about how they spend their money, this is a DVD they should only consider buying after ... oh, I don't know ... they finally win big on a major game show.

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