Physical Media Remains Important As Ever

Top: Saving Private Ryan Bottom: 1941, Jurassic Park: 25th Anniversary Collection, Schindler's List

Physical media remains important as ever and studios should not give up on them even as they focus on their streaming services.

“The only thing that is permanent in life is impermanence,” Thor Odinson – Avengers: Endgame

Whenever I hear a film is not getting a physical release, a part of me cries inside. Moreover, it’s almost worse when they only get a DVD release in lieu of a Blu-ray. I will always take a Blu-ray disc over a DVD because it offers a better picture. If a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is released, I will take that over the Blu-ray. Funny enough, the large majority of bonus features end up appearing only on the Blu-ray rather than the 4K disc. Not that it really makes any sense to me. Even when it comes to review copies, I will always prefer the physical copy over a digital code.

Beyond streaming not being permanent, the biggest thing that physical media has to offer: bonus features. This isn’t something that you can really find on the streaming services. Disney+ offers a lot of bonus content–many of which are on the physical discs but it appears the studio held onto others solely for the streaming service. I haven’t really dived into HBO Max to see what they offer in terms of bonus features. Hulu has an audio commentary for Palm Springs but that’s about it. If and when Palm Springs ever gets a physical release, I would hope it would contain a lot of bonus features. It seems like the type of comedy that would much like the Judd Apatow and Adam McKay movies.

The pandemic alone is one of the reasons why I grew more familiar with documentary filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau’s work. Bouzereau is the filmmaker that usually directs the bonus features that accompany the Steven Spielberg films on their home release. There’s a few films that I haven’t gotten around to watching but I’m getting back to them soon.

When I saw this tweet yesterday, it broke my heart. Warner Archive has made a number of films available on Blu-ray in recent years. It would be a real shame if they just gave up on releasing or re-releasing films on physical media. Please don’t do this, Warner Bros.! Warner has a vast studio library! This includes the old MGM library that Ted Turner held onto after he bought and sold MGM.

(ETA: In follow up to the tweet, please read the following Facebook post from Jerry Beck.)

Here’s the thing about streaming services: nothing is permanent. All you need to do is take a look at what’s leaving at the end of the money when streamers like Netflix and HBO Max announce their schedules. I get the licensing factor with Netflix but when it comes to Warner Bros., these are titles in their own aforementioned studio library.

During the pandemic and even before then, there have been days where the cable goes down. In these instances, the only option is read or turn on physical media. That’s it.

Even going along with the importance of physical media, I firmly believe that physical awards screeners are just as important. Going off of this past awards season, it is so easy to lose track of which digital screeners one receives. You almost have to track what you receive on a spreadsheet. And even then, you need to track who or which service sent said awards screener. I should note that the digital screeners from Disney were exclusively for an Apple TV app. Reminder: not everyone has an Apple TV. Full disclaimer: I’ve owned one since November 2020 but only because Apple offered them to every member of the Critics Choice Association. Awards season is an article in and of itself.

Just because it feels like many customers are turning to digital or holding out for streaming doesn’t mean that studios should give up on physical media. There are so many streaming services out there and customers CANNOT subscribe to each and every single one of them! The day that studios give up on physical media is the day that movies die.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.