Fan Club Release Rated in the UK

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2020-01-30)

“U2 – Experience + Innocence Live In Berlin” has been rated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and has received a 12 rating. The Video Recordings Act of 1984 in the UK makes it illegal to supply any video release in the UK which is not classified by the BBFC if it goes beyond PG guidelines. As such, the video by U2 being gifted to members of the fan club in the UK had to be classified, and that review has taken place. Those classifications have now been published by the BBFC.

The classification published lists the running time of 142 minutes, which matches what was listed on U2.Com when the DVD gift was announced. The rating for the film is a 12, which means the BBFC feels the material is appropriate for children 12 years or older without adult accompaniment. The summary of the rating points out that the film has “images of real violence,” and “moderate bad language.” They also list the director, Matt Askem, but little other content about the film is listed.

A release date for the video is listed as April 1, 2020. [Note: Since this article was published, this date has been changed from January 29, 2020 to say April 1, 2020.] However, full ratings information about the release are not included on the BBFC site at this time. The full ratings information will be available March 22, 2020. This is typically done for videos which have not been released, to prevent a detailed list of contents from spoiling the release. The ratings are published as soon as the film / video is classified, but the full ratings are sometimes not available until 10 days before the release. U2.Com in the announcement of this video gift listed “This limited edition release is already in production for 2020 subscribers and during February we will mail all subscribers with details on physical dispatch times.” With classification complete, it means the video is edited and reviewed, and proper ratings information can be published on the physical copies of the release as required. The date of March 22, 2020 for publication of the ratings does suggest that the shipping of these releases to subscribers is likely to start happening around the end of March. This date likely could be changed to an earlier one with little difficulty should they be ready to start shipping before that time.

At this time no other version of this release has been rated. No bonus content beyond the 142 minute main film is noted either. It does suggest that the final edits are done, and the final content of the disc finalized if the content has been sent for a rating.

U2.Com announced on January 24 that “U2 eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE – Live In Berlin” by director Matt Askem would be released as this year’s fan club gift. It is the first time that the fan club has issued a full live video release as a gift. The gift will be accompanied by a booklet of photos, “The DVD is accompanied by a booklet of exclusive photos by tour photographer Ross Stewart and produced by the band’s long time graphic designer Shaughn McGrath, with creative direction by Gavin Friday.” This video release will capture the full eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE show, and is not the same 75-minute edit recently shown in many countries on television.

Although the DVD format has been met by criticism online, the fan club appears to be trying to reach the widest amount of subscribers possible with this release. Mark Peterborough has done an quick poll on Twitter asking what physical formats people can play at home on their main television. About 18% have no ability to play any video disc listed including DVD, Blu-ray and UHD Blu-ray. A further 18% can only play a DVD format. Releasing this in a quality higher than the DVD format would mean over one-third of the fan club would not be able to use the disc based on this informal poll. (Assuming a single disc was all that would be offered in the package.)

Details about a commercial release of this video have not been announced at this time, although rumours shared with us suggested there has been discussions about those options. Although rare that a fan club gift would also be commercially released, it has been done before. Both Melon and Hasta La Vista Baby were released as part of The Complete U2 digital box set through iTunes, and Artificial Horizon which was released on CD for the fan club, was released at the same time for general sale on 12-inch purple vinyl via Live Nation and U2.Com. If there is a commercial release, it is possible that it won’t even be in a physical format, which potentially makes the fan club release the only physical version of the release. We have reached out to our contacts for further information about these commercial possibilities and will share any information we may get.

If this release begins to ship in March it will be the earliest fan club gift to start being sent to subscribers since 2014’s release of North Side Story with most gifts not arriving until the latter half of the year since that time. The gift for 2019 did not start shipping until late October, and it usually takes 3-6 months to reach all subscribers, so some are still waiting for last year’s gift. For a look at all of the previous fan club gifts, we have a section dedicated to them in our >U2 discography.

Although it is Askem’s first time working with U2 on a release, he has worked with the band before, including a recording of the band live at Croke Park in 2005, done for the band’s own archive, and filming a more recent performance at the Apollo in Harlem during 2018. Askem is one of the directors leading Serpent Productions along with David Mallet and Nick Morris. Mallet was involved in U2’s PopMart: Live from Mexico City and Zoo TV: Live from Sydney releases.

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