Less than 24 hours after insisting that there was nothing wrong with the Blu-ray release of Marvel's Avengers Assemble, Disney UK has done a volte face and confessed it screwed things up. Going into full damage-limitation lock-down, it has issued the following statement:

‘Thanks to those of you who have let us know about an issue on the Marvel Avengers Assemble UK Blu-ray and DVD release, which has a less graphic depiction of [SPOILER]'s confrontation with Loki. Each country has its own compliance issues relative to depictions of violence. Unfortunately, another region’s elements were inadvertently used to create the UK in-home release which minimally altered this scene in the film. We thank our fans for their vigilance in recognizing this and apologize for the mix up.’
 
It’s an extraordinary conclusion to a baffling bungle with one of the year’s biggest blockbusters. Shortly after Monday’s Blu-ray release, social media sites were alive with complaints from buyers that the disc version released in the UK was different from that seen in cinemas. The death scene of a key character had been digitally retouched to remove the sight of a spear protruding from a chest. The BBFC had no problems with this sequence declaring: ‘The detail of the impact is not shown, only the tip of the spear protruding from the man's chest with a small amount of blood on it.  The image is not dwelt upon and serves an important narrative purpose.’ The film was passed 12A for theatrical release.
 
When Home Cinema Choice sought clarification about the change, Disney spokesperson Lydia Rodrigues, declared 'the version of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble on Blu-ray disc in the UK is the same as the version shown theatrically. It really is.'  She sounded pretty sincere.
 
So then we then went to the BBFC, to validate the Disney claim. The BBFC website at the time offered few clues as to the legitimacy of Rodrigues’ assertion. The BBFC duly released a statement and altered the ECI description of the release. 
 
Further removing any doubt, BBFC press officer Catherine Anderson then told Home Cinema Choice unambiguously: 'The version submitted by Disney for DVD/Blu-Ray classification was not identical to the version submitted for theatrical classification.'
 
We then took this back to Disney HQ and asked what was going on. A day of deliberation followed, with the aforementioned statement being issued. When asked if there were any plans to repress the disc with the correct elements, no answer was forthcoming. The doors were locked and bolted.
 
Quite how Disney could so badly botch the UK release of potentially its biggest release of the year will probably never be explained. Losing the Joss Whedon commentary and a Triple Play package was bad enough. But to replicate the wrong version of the film shows either massive contempt for UK consumers or indefensible negligence.   
 
So what happens next? Our advice to anyone that’s bought the disc from a UK retailer is to return it, or just give it to the kids next door (they’ll certainly enjoy it), then order a copy of the Region Free US import.