It was rare until the late 90s when DVD was arriving. I had some old school 80s Mitsubishi kit and late 80s/early 90s high-end Sony stuff and neither could do region conversion. Also, remember if it was outputting NTSC directly it’s likely your TV wouldn’t show properly. I do remember patches of black and white though. I know, at least here in the US, Philips ones were pretty dependably unlockable from the keypad. They were my go-to. Other than that, though, the trick is to find the cheapest off-brand one you could find (like your Tesco one), because some fly-by-night manufacturer wouldn’t likely be big enough to have different production lines for Peace Love Sloth American Flag Shirt different regions, and wouldn’t give as much of a damn about the particulars of the DRM.
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I have to deal with this with anime all the time. As you said, it’s easy to get around. But dubbing companies (Disney, Funimation, Sentai, etc) need to make money. And if all the fans who’ve already seen the Japanese version just skip the dubs and buy the DVDs directly from Japan, there’s no money to be made dubbing it. Also, those export businesses make a ton of money from shipping out country-specific stuff. You basically have to pay a middleman to shop for you and ship it to your country. Luckily I’ve never had to do this, but I know some international music fans who will happily fork over the extra money for exclusive concert DVDs and merch. Inflation rates also affect the price of international goods. (I can easily get a $40 DVD for $20, because of inflation in Taiwan.)Plus there are censorship laws. So one country might have rules about what is suitable for Peace Love Sloth American Flag Shirt viewing, but you can easily get an uncensored version if you can bypass region locking.
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Are movies localized to different English speaking regions?? I know that Spanish-speaking countries will get separate releases for Spain, Mexico, etc. but that’s for some pretty big grammatical and lexical differences (e.g. and, or tú and ). I mean, obviously TV shows like the Office and the IT Crowd get adapted, but Toy Story just seems weird to localize to me. If they aren’t going to redub the movie and they don’t use language too specific to a certain dialect, I don’t think they would go to the Peace Love Sloth American Flag Shirt effort of swapping out a few frames of a movie, especially back then. I know that Pixar has done some more recent cultural localization (e.g. broccoli and bell peppers in Inside Out).