My Two Cents

Criterion’s April slate, plus Legion, Fear the Walking Dead, Last Jedi artwork & more on HDR & physical media

January 16, 2018 - 4:19 pm   |   by
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We’ve got another Blu-ray review for you today from Tim: A look at Warner Archive’s new Blu-ray release of Freebie and the Bean. You can find that here.

We’ve also updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. You’ll find that here.

Meanwhile, the big news today is that Criterion has just announced their April Blu-ray release slate, which is set to include Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth (Cat #917 – Blu-ray and DVD) and Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates (Cat #918 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 4/17, and Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (Cat #920 – Blu-ray and DVD) and Jim Jaramusch’s Dead Man (Cat #919 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 4/24. They’re also releasing Eclipse Series 46: Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years on DVD on 4/10, including The Count of the Old Town (1935), Dollar (1938), Intermezzo (1936), Walpurgis Night (1935), A Woman’s Face (1938), and June Night (1940). [Read on here…]

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20th Century Fox has just set Legion: The Complete Season One for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 3/27. For a limited time, it will come with an exclusive book. Extras include deleted scenes, Fractured Reality: A Different Kind of Hero, and 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Lionsgate has just set Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 3/13 (SRP $44.99 and $39.98). Extras will include audio commentaries plus deleted and extended scenes.

Lionsgate is also releasing History Channel’s Knightfall: Season One on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on 3/13, followed by A&E Biography’s Who Killed Tupac? on DVD on 3/27.

The Warner Archive has just released The Hanging Tree (1959), The Flight of Dragons (1982), and Teen Titans: The Complete First Season (2003) on Blu-ray. Also new (or back in print) on DVD are Trial and Error: The Complete First Season (2017), The Super (1991), Judgment Night (1993), Suburbia (1996), Too Many Girls (1940), The Nun’s Story (1959), The Sundowners (1960), and Home from the Hill (1960).

And though it hasn’t yet been officially announced yet (but should be any day now), we have final cover artwork for Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Blu-ray and 4K. You can see that here, along with cover art for some of the other titles we’ve mentioned today, with Amazon pre-order links if available...

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (4K Ultra HD) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Blu-ray Disc) Fear the Walking Dead: Season 3 (Blu-ray Disc)

Blade Runner 2049 (4K Ultra HD) Flight of Dragons (Blu-ray Disc) Legion: Season One (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally today, I wanted to make a couple points related to news from CES...

First, on the subject of an HDR “format war” again: I want to stress once more my belief that this is not a format war in the sense of DVD vs Divx or Blu-ray vs HD-DVD. Again, every single Ultra HD Premium-certified disc must include regular HDR10. But here’s the bigger point: This is really a battle over streaming... not 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Why do I say that? Again, look at our 4K Ultra HD Release List... of all the titles on that list, and there are 200-300 of them so far, only 30 have Dolby Vision and none have HDR10+. Disney has released 3-4 4K Blu-rays no with HDR10 but no Dolby Vision, even though they include a Dolby Vision option on their 4K download. Disney could include Dolby Vision on their discs, but they aren’t so far. What does this tell me? It tells me that this “format war” is about steaming content. Keep that in mind as you think about this issue going forward.

All right, now the last point I wanted to make: The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) reported during the show this year that while total U.S. home entertainment spending rose 5% in 2017 to $20.5 billion, physical media (read: discs) sales dropped 14% in 2017 from the previous year. (You can read as much in this piece at Variety.) This after a similar drop in physical media sales in 2016 of 10%. So a significant drop in just two years. What’s going on? What does this mean? I’ll tell you exactly what it means: There is a shift happening in this industry. It used to be that the balance was between disc sales and disc rentals. But then digital/streaming basically took over the physical disc rentals market. Now, digital/streaming is slowly becoming the primary media market and actual physical disc sales are becoming the niche. This is a situation that I believe is going to continue for the next 10-20 years. Physical discs are not going away for quite a while; not by any stretch – there are just too many collectors and enthusiasts who prefer them for a whole variety of reasons. But mainstream media consumers are moving to digital. Some of this is due to title fatigue (people having already purchased their favorite films multiple times on DVD and Blu-ray) and some of it is due to the rising influence of Millennials, who tend not to purchase anything or at least very little physical goods (not just discs, but cars, homes, etc). But that enthusiast and collector market is not going away, because it’s full of Boomers and especially Gen-Xers who have money to spend. And in fact, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales are growing faster than almost anyone in the industry predicted for this very reason. We also don’t yet know how the generation after Millennials will choose to consume their media. There’s a historical trend that suggests each generation makes choices in reaction to the one before it, so maybe they’ll choose to embrace physical media a little more with time. We don’t know.

What I do believe is this: You hear a lot of gloom and doom online that physical media is going away forever. Not so, not for a long time yet. We do, however, have to start getting used to a marketplace in which streaming, not physical media, is the dominant mode of consuming content. I could see physical media sales declining another 20 or 30% over the next few years, leaving us with a mix that’s about 35-40% physical and 55-60% digital. So we’ll have to see what news we hear from the DEG at CES 2019.

In the meantime, don’t stress about it. If you love discs, the best thing you can do to keep discs around for a long time is to buy more discs. Your money talks loudest in this industry. Period.

All right, that’s all for now. Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

 

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