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In Defense of Physical Media: Why You Should Keep Buying Blu-rays and DVDs

Nymphae

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I thought this was a pretty good article that touches on a number of things I've been thinking about lately with regards to streaming services. My home internet is having issues again and I've been forced to watch my collection of physical and digital media that doesn't require an internet connection.

The age of DVDs was a bit of a renaissance for film fans since A) we finally got our movies in the correct aspect ratio as opposed to the days of pan-and-scan on VHS; B) there could be a wealth of special features that sometimes functioned like film school in a box; and C) there was an easy way to share movies I loved with friends.
It really was, wasn't it? Sure VHS was classic and did a lot for movie lovers, but DVD was an amazing successor. Accurate reproductions, smaller physical format, options, extra features (I feel like these really don't get the credit they deserve, these are often excellent for fans), NO REWINDING! What could be better than this?...

But the days of the DVD/Blu-ray collection have come to a close. The big player these days is streaming, and in theory, it’s a good one. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu, and others offer a plethora of choices. No longer do you have to pay $15-20 for a movie on a disc and then find a place for that disc in your home. You pay around $12/month and get a bunch of movies or you can just rent the one you want from iTunes or Vudu for $3-7 depending on how new it is. If push comes to shove, you can find your way to a Redbox and rent a new release for a night. On the surface, one viewing medium has been replaced with another.
Yes in theory it's excellent. Convenience and less money than building a physical collection? Sign me up!

However, look closer and the imperfections of the streaming landscape start to become clear. To illustrate this, let me tell you a story about wanting to watch Air Force One on July 4, 2017. I own Air Force One on Blu-ray, but the Blu-ray didn’t come with a digital copy, so the disc was the only way to watch it. Unfortunately, the majority of my discs (Air Force One included) were in storage since I had recently moved out of my apartment and was living with my mom while I waited for my fiancée’s lease to end so we could move into a new apartment together.

But surely, Air Force One, the fifth-highest grossing film of 1997, would be available on a streaming service. Netflix? Nope. Amazon Prime? No dice. Hulu? Sorry, not here. Okay, well maybe we can rent it on Vudu? Not listed. Not even iTunes? Sorry, bub. Air Force One, which is by no means an obscure movie, was not streaming. Period. There was no point going to Redbox because it wasn’t a new movie, and we conveniently killed Blockbuster Video thinking we would never need it again. Even the option of going to a Best Buy or Barnes & Noble was out because, again, if it’s not a new title, they probably don’t carry it.
This is one of my biggest issues with these services. Occasionally absolutely none of them have a specific movie I want to watch and my only option is physical (and you had better hope that the physical is on Amazon for purchase through some seller, unless you want to start looking through racks at scary DVD stores and flea markets....)

“This is just one title!” you exclaim. Most of the time, you can find what you need. Perhaps, but I would counter that in this scenario, your viewing desires are at the mercy of the streaming services, not at what you’ve chosen to buy or not buy.
This is my main problem. I have no say over what is presented to me. I'm paying for access to this curated library of shows that is ostensibly here to satisfy my entertainment needs. Sure, some of the time, Netflix's priorities and my own interests overlap and they present something that I could see myself watching. But what percentage of the time do they have some obscure movie from the 80's or 90's that I actually wanted to watch? 5%? It's abysmal.

You eat what they serve, not what you had in mind. And over time what people have in mind is just...whatever is on Netflix. Amazon Prime is a little better in that regard, but still not great. I think of a movie to watch, and it's not on any services. Once upon a time, you used to just head down to the rental store and they probably had it, or could order the rental. Nowadays? You just pick a new thumbnail and move on.

...while plenty of movies are available on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc., they tend to be presented in the wrong aspect ratio. While this may not seem like a big deal to the casual viewer, if you’re a true fan of movies and respect the decisions of directors to shoot their movies in a certain aspect ratio, then you want it screened correctly. Netflix claims it doesn’t crop movies, but past investigations show that sometimes it does.
Haven't investigated this a lot myself, but this should literally never happen. As he says, casual viewers will not notice or care about this, but imo this is inexcusable for a movie streaming service.

Secondly, we’ve lost a lot of the bonuses that made viewers better informed. Yes, there are things like iTunes Extras, but Netflix has no interest in going behind the scenes of its shows and letting viewers learn from the filmmakers. Even when Netflix shows come to DVD, you get a barebones release as was the case with House of Cards, Daredevil, etc. Again, this is all fine for people who just want the show itself, but for fans who want to know more about how the shows and movies they love are made, they’re out of luck. Netflix did have some online David Fincher commentaries for the first couple episodes of House of Cards, but it seems to be an idea they’ve abandoned or approached in a different way like the Stranger Things after-show rather than straightforward commentaries.
Where are the fucking extras??? Commentaries? Behind the scenes? Making of special effects, etc? I love these fucking things, and they are absolutely nowhere to be found via streaming, and Netflix can't even be bothered to throw some together for the few things it does decide to release physically. $5 DVDs I buy are more feature rich than what is presented to me on Netflix or Amazon. Give me a fucking break!!! There's no reason all of this content needed to die, this was one of my favourite things about the DVD era.

Third, to go back to my story from last summer, you’re at the mercy of what’s available. Additionally, because movies and television are spread out over different services, it may all come down to what you subscribe to. I’ve currently got subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and FilmStruck, but let’s say you’ve only got a Netflix subscription and you want to watch A League of Their Own. That’s tough luck. It’s only available to stream on Hulu. You could rent it from Amazon or iTunes for $4, or even pay $12.99 to own it on iTunes (most movies on iTunes sit in the $10-20 range even though it’s just a digital copy; for example, you could get Spy on iTunes for $14.99 or buy the Blu-ray for $7.40, which comes with a free digital copy)...
This gives me a fucking headache. (Incidentally, A League of Their Own is available for free on CTV.ca a Canadian broadcasrt network website that has a bunch of free movies for streaming, I use this frequently)

...Or you could just pay $10, get the Blu-ray, and never have to worry about it again (unless all your stuff goes into storage).
Which is exactly what I started doing.
 
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-Arcadia-

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Not that I don’t agree that we need all kinds of options going forward, but the example is so weird.

It took me two seconds to look up iTunes for Air Force One, and find a three dollar rental. Pretending rental services in the nature of iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon’s regular video store don’t exist, and aren’t compatible with an amazing variety of devices, and that streaming and physical are the only options, or not knowing, isn’t the best way to build an argument.

It’s actually arguable that past movies are more accessible to us than they’ve ever been before. A few clicks of a button at home, on a library that can be as big as it likes, versus searching an entire rental store for a 20+ year old movie that may or may not be there.
 

-Arcadia-

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Outside of subscription services, it doesn’t though. That’s my point. Regardless of what Netflix and the others do, Air Force One will not be rotated out of actual digital stores where you can rent and buy it any time.

I’m someone who’s always watching older movies, because of how bad current ones have become. 10. 20. 30 years old, popular, niche, I’ve never had trouble finding exactly what I want and renting it.
 

Nymphae

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Outside of subscription services, it doesn’t though. That’s my point. Regardless of what Netflix and the others do, Air Force One will not be rotated out of actual digital stores where you can rent and buy it any time.
Do those rentals come with extra features? Do they work when my internet is down?
 
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-Arcadia-

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Is that the point being made, or did I agree off-the-bat with you, but had a problem with the particular point I brought up?
 

Gashtronomy

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The cinema is dying, so movies are now more focused on the cinema experience.

Anything outside of that finds itself streamed for a home audience.

On the whole, movie nights are dead.
 
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Nymphae

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The point the author was making is that the majority of digital media is less feature rich overall and more subject to changes you cannot control.

“This is just one title!” you exclaim.
Most of the time, you can find what you need. Perhaps, but I would counter that in this scenario, your viewing desires are at the mercy of the streaming services, not at what you’ve chosen to buy or not buy.
Yes you were able to find the title he was talking about (for digital renting). This is not always the case for many movies one might want to watch. Can you find If Looks Could Kill starring Richard Grieco for me? Thanks.
 
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-Arcadia-

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Yes you were able to find the title he was talking about (for digital renting). This is not always the case for many movies one might want to watch. Can you find If Looks Could Kill starring Richard Grieco for me? Thanks.
If rental stores still existed, would you be able to find a 30 year old movie that nobody has ever heard of before, with a total box office pull of 7.8 million? As someone who worked at a big one, and always had to let customers down easy for niche asks like this, I highly doubt it.
 

Nymphae

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If rental stores still existed, would you be able to find a 30 year old movie that nobody has ever heard of before, with a total box office pull of 7.8 million?
My point is - I can buy that movie physically right now. You can't stream or rent it anywhere. lol I love that you wiki'ed ILCK.

And as I said, you could request a rental store to order it, and they probably would. Right? You can't get that with digital services. Try calling iTunes and requesting they upload a movie for you to rent.
 
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MetalAlien

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Outside of subscription services, it doesn’t though. That’s my point. Regardless of what Netflix and the others do, Air Force One will not be rotated out of actual digital stores where you can rent and buy it any time.

I’m someone who’s always watching older movies, because of how bad current ones have become. 10. 20. 30 years old, popular, niche, I’ve never had trouble finding exactly what I want and renting it.
If they made one or maybe two sites to get all the movies from maybe... but in response to the ever branching tree of online video my response was to buy a few very large hard drives and start collecting.
 
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-Arcadia-

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My point is - I can buy that movie physically right now. You can't stream or rent it anywhere. lol I love that you wiki'ed ILCK.
Because I’d never heard of it, and that’s unusual.

We can agree that getting a hold of an extremely niche, forgotten movie is a benefit of physical buys.

However, a movie that was rejected from the public consciousness the second it came out, is hardly comparable to the point that the author was making, that common, or even popular movies, cannot be rented digitally, which is objectively wrong.

He’s making a fallacious argument (not a surprise from Collider), to push something that I mostly agree with. We need physical media for a lot of reasons. The first one he cited, however, does not exist.

If they made one or maybe two sites to get all the movies from maybe... but in response to the ever branching tree of online video my response was to buy a few very large hard drives and start collecting.
You collect rentals? Because that’s what we’re talking about.
 

Mato

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I never rewatch films these days. I can't possibly think of a reason why I would want to own one.
 

Nymphae

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Because I’d never heard of it, and that’s unusual.

We can agree that getting a hold of an extremely niche, forgotten movie is a benefit of physical buys.
I wouldn't I wouldn't say it's "extremely niche", it just wasn't a massive movie. It was a title I remember renting at local stores with my parents when I was younger. There are a lot of movies like this, and this a big reason why I'm not a fan of streaming services. Another one I just pulled off the top of my head I used to rent when I was younger - it's called My Science Experiment, cheesy 80's movie. Can't find it for rent anywhere. The DVD is selling on Amazon.ca used, starting at $57! I should have purchased this years ago....

However, a movie that was rejected from the public consciousness the second it came out, is hardly comparable to the point that the author was making, that common, or even popular movies, cannot be rented digitally, which is objectively wrong.
lol I don't know why you are trying to low key shit on this movie, it's fun as hell, just because you haven't heard of it before doesn't mean it's not any good. I'd tell you to watch it for yourself, but you don't have many options it seems!
 
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Nymphae

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Is there really an offence against DVD/Blu-ray discs going on? 0o
I think publishers are probably ecstatic about the possibility of a world where they no longer have to pay for all of the costs involved with printing and shipping (and then potentially not selling) physical items. As soon as it's feasible for them to axe that market and go full digital, it's going to be gone. And with a large number of consoomers happily, proudly eschewing scary physical media for convenience and storage space gains, it'll be here sooner than we think probably.
 
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cryptoadam

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Im looking at a stack of close to 100 dvds i have and think to myself why? Back in the 2000 to 2010s i bought DVDs especially when they had BOGO sales at HMV and Futureshop. Now they sit there taking space and i never watch them.

I think in general normal people especially those over 30 dont rewatch movies over and over again. My buddy did the same thing and his movies sit there collecting dust as well. 99% of the movies i own i will never watch again.

If you are into collecting and bust out ure fav BR or DVD or VHS every year then good on you but i think most people watch a movie once or twice especially with todays movies.

DVDS imo became so popular because at one point it was almost more cost effective to own the movie rather than rent it.
 

GreyHorace

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Streaming is starting to become more and more a pain in the ass with way too many services out there splitting up the content.
Same here. I hate that I have to subscribe to an app just to watch stuff that might interest me.

In any case, I will defend the existence of physical media to the death. I don't want all the content to be sequestered on a digital server where there's a danger it might be lost forever.
 

BibleBLACKED

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Have a lot of blu-rays and physical manga volumes. Many of them still unopened, unwatched and unread. All of them haven't been touched by me in years...YEARS!

I read manga through the shonen jump/mangaplus apps etc. have amazon prime video, netflix, sky(here and there) and buy movies digitally on sale from stores like iTunes and amazon video. Have more games to play that I bought digitally and got through psplus and am drowning in content to watch on streaming services that I simply don't have any desire to ever buy physical media again. Cause all it does is take up space and collect dust, in my case at least.
 
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Cravis

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True....I have been picking up physical releases of some of my favorites that have made their way to 4K. Those file sizes are way too big to rip and store right now.

Still for everyday viewing Plex works for me haha.
 
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voidenberg

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Fuck physical media and fuck streaming.

I watched fellowship of the ring last week. Wanted to watch two towers afterwards but to my surprise for whatever reason it wasn't on Netflix or amazon prime. They had movies 1 and 3 but not 2.

I have the DVDs in a box somwhere. But fuck that.

Downloaded the extended versions at 1080p which is fine. I don't care about 4k.

Physical media is not convenient. And streaming is becoming less convenient every day.
 
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Darkmakaimura

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Fuck physical media and fuck streaming.

I watched fellowship of the ring last week. Wanted to watch two towers afterwards but to my surprise for whatever reason it wasn't on Netflix or amazon prime. They had movies 1 and 3 but not 2.

I have the DVDs in a box somwhere. But fuck that.

Downloaded the extended versions at 1080p which is fine. I don't care about 4k.

Physical media is not convenient. And streaming is becoming less convenient every day.
I like VUDU. Good library of movies to buy and sometimes decent sales.
 

Nymphae

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Digital distribution is making it so you pretty don't own any movies or games you buy anymore


"You never actually "owned" the movies you purchased physically but rather you just purchased a licence to access that media" /pedantry

I watched fellowship of the ring last week. Wanted to watch two towers afterwards but to my surprise for whatever reason it wasn't on Netflix or amazon prime. They had movies 1 and 3 but not 2.
Huh, that's weird. That shit used to drive me nuts, I remember wanting to watch the Mission Impossible movies and Netflix only had like 1, 3, and 5. Sorry consoomers, we can't do anything about the licence deals. Well I can, I can buy the M:I combo DVD pack.

Physical media is not convenient.
I don't see how. Oh shit, you have to get up and grab the movie.
 
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TheUsual

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My GF loves putting Friends as a background show when we're in the apartment. Now that it's gone from Netflix (US) I said fuck it and bought the series on dvd from Amazon and currently working on ripping the episodes and making a Plex server. We're not going to pay for another damn subscription service.
 

-Troid-

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I still buy DVDs and Blurays even though I have access to Netflix/Hulu/D+ because said streaming services have kind of devalued physical media.

I went to BigLots and they had Jurassic Park on BR for $5 and Robocop for $3. Walmart had their Xmas sales going on and I got Deadpool 2, DBS Broly, and several other movies for dirt cheap.

Plus I feel Blurays and UHDrays are inherently better than streaming since you don't have to worry about connection bs. With DVDs it's arguable since they look like shit on bigger screens nowadays even with upscaling, but I'll still get a DVD if it's super cheap.
 
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Amory

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I do still buy blu rays and, more recently, 4k UHDs. The quality is greatly improved over streaming (even with a good internet connection) and I enjoy the experience of looking over my library on my shelf, selecting a movie, being able to look at the cover art and read the back of the case, and then loading the disc into my player.

I'm not entirely sure why I like this experience so much. Nostalgia, probably? I just like having the entire experience be...tangible somehow. I even like watching the previews and ads before the title menu.

That said, I don't collect movies based on some fear that I won't be able to watch a movie that I want to watch. My tastes are pretty mainstream, so I don't think I've ever wanted to watch something and had it be unavailable for digital rental.
 

T8SC

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I dont kind genuine streaming services, though I prefer actual physical media. What I'd love to irradicate is the Showbox/Kodi etc of the world.
 
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OSC

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Air Force One will not be rotated out of actual digital stores where you can rent and buy it any time.
Depends it and others can be censored or potentially removed if cancel culture goes after them. I wouldn't be surprised if something like True Lies eventually became hard to find in streaming.

Amazon once removed a book from kindle user's devices, iirc, when there was an IP snafu I think

However, a movie that was rejected from the public consciousness the second it came out, is hardly comparable to the point that the author was making, that common, or even popular movies, cannot be rented digitally, which is objectively wrong.
I've heard that simpsons episodes with Michael Jackson as well as Michael Jackson music was targeted by cancel culture individuals. Maybe they failed this time, but the future doesn't guarantee anything.

Also I've heard Disney censoring old films for political correctness. The unaltered versions being unavailable
Disney is revising its own history and censoring some classic content in order to bring it up to date with modern-day sensibilities and politics.
The entertainment giant will remove scenes deemed controversial or offensive from a number of movies that will be shown on Disney+, its new streaming service.
One of the titles absent from the streaming service that is about to launch will be the Oscar-winning 1946 animated musical “Song of the South,” that deals with the post civil war period in the United States and the abolition of slavery. The film has been criticized for the way it handles race – specifically, for perpetrating anti-African American stereotypes and using this racial group's vernacular.
 
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Darkmakaimura

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My dad loves this movie called The Illusionist. It's not the animated one but a live action movie starring Edward Norton.

It's nowhere on any streaming or digital platforms. Even the DVD is hard to find albeit it exists.

Wonder why that movie is almost nowhere to be found btw?