OK, so the situation is this: fighting piracy was (and is) extremely difficult in Russia because it's impossible to make people buy CDs and DVDs for $15-20 when the majority in this country has an average sallary of $300. Certainly most would go and buy some bootleg for $3 and those bootlegs are not hard to find, they're everywhere. Besides the culture of movie-watching in this country is so low that many would rather watch a copy recorded on a camcorder in a theater with abysmal video and audio than wait for a normal release.
To fight this tendency (and audio-video piracy by the way is one of the reasons Russia is still not in WTO) Russian authorities suggested foreign CD-DVD make prices lower. So for example US distributors would sell the rights for a Russian release three times less then to any other normal country. Partially the deal was made and now the rights for R5 DVDs are sold cheap indeed. So now Russian distributors don't have to wait till the DVD is released in the US. All the films here are now released before America. And those early releases cost about $3. This allows distributors not to lose money because of bootleggers. So foreign distributors have been refusing to sell DVDs in Russia for such prices, but finally realized a couple of cents per disc is better than nothing. But these early editions come with inferior quality - both audio and video. No extras, no audio choice, no original language sountrack. Barebones. Video is dark and grainy. Only couple of months later they can release a normal edition in a good fancy box, with load of extras, DTS etc. In this case English sountrack is usually available. But sometimes - still not. So, Jah-Wren Ryel, you were right.
To show you the attitude here in Russia for this matter I'll tell you a little story. Once I walked in a little shop to look for some DVDs. I found some above mentioned early cheap releases and asked the clerk if it's possible to switch off Russian translation. "Why would you want to do that?" - he asked. "Because I guess I like watching films with their original soundtrack, neither dubbed nor just translated" - I replied. He looked at me like I was a creature from outer space and said all of their DVDs had "burnt-in" translation track. So no one here actually cares for original soundtracks - that's the answer. That's one of the reasons I hate local DVDs - aside from the fact that their artwork is usually utterly poor and during a film itself the picture sometimes freezes for a second...
P.S. I'd like to emphasize those early releases are NOT bootlegs, they're absolutely legit. Bootlegs also exist of course, bit they are usually being sold on the streets and in some small shops. You can't find them in big stores. But those early legit editions are sold in those stores OFFICIALLY.
Last edited by Giggles; 08-05-07 at 06:59 PM.