Why is the Second Audio Track on DVDs in French?

istock / istock

Most DVDs come with more than one audio track. The first one is generally English, and more than likely the second one will be French. Pourquoi?

The DVD market is divided into six zones, or regions—and right now, the film studios make their biggest bucks selling discs in Region One, which consists of the United States and Canada. Canada, of course, has a large population (even outside of Quebec) of folk who prefer their movies to be en Français.

But, momentito, por favor; doesn’t the U.S. have a large Spanish-speaking population? Yes, that’s true, and some studios do offer a third audio track in Spanish. But there are some financial drawbacks in doing so. Mexico, Central America, and South America are in Region Four. As a rule, movies are released on DVD in Region One long before they even hit the cinema in Region Four. So DVDs with Spanish soundtracks were very attractive to black marketers who pirated U.S. releases for sale in Latin America. Some studios are starting to eliminate the French track as well, to prevent anxious movie buffs in Paris from mail-ordering a blockbuster before it hits their own theaters. (It’s called show business for a reason.)