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Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Old 08-08-20, 11:14 AM
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Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

https://thedigitalbits.com/columns/m...ts/080720-1600

YES, IT APPEARS THAT DISNEY CURRENTLY HAS NO PLANS FOR MORE LIVE-ACTION CATALOG ON PHYSICAL 4K

August 7, 2020 - 7:23 pm | by Bill Hunt

All right, we have one last post here at The Bits for this week... and it’s a bit of a bummer. But let me start at the beginning...

Early last week, I started to receive word from retail and industry sources that Disney had made an internal decision to suspend the 4K Ultra HD release of live action catalog titles from both their own vaults and those of their newly acquired 20th Century Fox label.

In essence, my sources said, beyond new release theatrical titles, animated fare from Disney and Pixar, or Star Wars and Marvel-related projects, there were no plans at the studio going forward to release titles on physical 4K Ultra HD—future releases would be 4K Digital only.

The rumor began to leak elsewhere online last weekend, so readers understandably started asking me about it.

But that’s a fairly significant piece of news, so I wanted to take my time in trying to get to the bottom of it before commenting. And that’s exactly what I’ve spent much of this past week doing. [Read on here...]

As such, I’ve now checked with multiple reliable sources on the matter. And I have indeed been able to essentially confirm the rumor.

In truth, it’s not that surprising. While Disney has been aggressive with their animated, Star Wars, and Marvel 4K catalog releases, they’ve made almost no effort to promote any of them, even going so far as to not send out review product to critics. In most cases, they never even issued proper press releases for these titles.

What is a bit odd is that, with Home Alone and Hocus Pocus set to arrive on physical 4K next month, the studio’s 4K catalog disc plan seems to have ended right there.

Some of this may be due to the pandemic, but most of it seems to be the studio’s determination from top to bottom to focus on building Disney+, along with an almost complete lack of appreciation for the live action film legacies of both Disney and Fox among the company’s executives.

From what I can determine, there’s almost no one left on staff from 20th Century Fox after Disney’s purchase of that studio. And the pandemic has resulted in furloughs and cost-cutting at Disney itself, which may soon begin to include significant layoffs.

There are few people now at Disney who have any investment in their classic live action films of the past, in the Touchstone library, and certainly the Fox library beyond Star Wars and the Fox-driven Marvel properties like X-Men. (Sadly, a similar situation is true of many of the Hollywood studios these days.)

The exception seems to be James Cameron’s Avatar, which Disney is banking on heavily. To keep Cameron happy, there might be a chance that the studio will release the likes of Aliens, the original Avatar, True Lies, and The Abyss on physical 4K at some point in the future. But they seem to be in no rush to do so, nor—as fans have become painfully aware in recent years—does Cameron himself seem to be promoting it.

Taking all of this into account, it seems that the three biggest factors Disney considers in their valuation of catalog films seem to be: 1) Will it work on Disney+, 2) will it drive sales of consumer products, and 3) will it drive sales of theme park tickets.

Now, in strong economic times, that makes sense: Disney does blockbuster business with those three revenue streams, along with new theatrical releases. But as we’ve seen in this pandemic, when the economy collapses and audiences can no longer visit theme parks or movie theaters, it exposes a major weakness in Disney’s position. And unfortunately, between Touchstone and Fox, there are many films that simply don’t fit on Disney+ (nor are they being exploited on Hulu—of which Disney currently owns nearly 70%).

Traditionally, home video—by which I mean the physical disc business—has been a boon to the Hollywood studios, even (and maybe especially) in tough economic times. This was true after 9/11 certainly and it’s been true through multiple recessions. Even now, all you have to do to confirm this idea is read the recent reporting in the Hollywood trades (like Media Play News) about studio financials:

Paramount Home Entertainment’s revenue for Q2 of this year was up 30%. (Nice job guys. Now get busy on the Star Trek films in 4K, please.)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Q1 revenue was up 60%.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s revenue for Q2 was up 18.5%.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s revenue for Q1 was up 45%.

(Note that I haven’t seen Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s financials reported yet in the media.)

But Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s revenue dropped in Q3 (though they’re still apparently up for the year as a whole on the strength of Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). Why? It’s pretty simple: They don’t really have a home entertainment plan in terms of physical media.

This is odd, because current Disney CEO Bob Chapek was for years (back to the early days of Blu-ray) the president of the studio’s home entertainment division. And while he’s certainly had his hands full lately, stepping up to the role of company CEO just as the pandemic hit, I’m hopeful he’ll realize that rejuvenating home entertainment can help put the company in a stronger position. He’s even made a bit of noise in the direction in recent interviews (see here), though only in regard to VOD and Digital. Regardless, Disney currently seems to have almost no physical media strategy other than to simply ignore it.

Now, there have been some additional rumors that suggested Disney was open to licensing out their catalog films to indie studios like Criterion, Shout! Factory, and Arrow. This might be possible, but I think it’s a bit of wishful thinking at the moment, because I’ve heard nothing that might confirm the notion. It certainly wouldn’t be the worst move. But whether Disney does this, or gets more serious in-house about their own physical media catalog legacy (perhaps even expanding the Walt Disney Movie Club slate or at least promoting the titles more widely), the fact remains that there are hundreds of great live action catalog films in their own vaults and those of Fox that remain unexploited or underexploited—movies that continue to have value in the hearts and minds of movie fans, if not Disney executives.

Could all of this change? Yes, and I’m hopeful it will—which is one of the key reasons why I’m writing this column today, even though I know it might cause a bit of a stir.

Because I also know for a fact that there are many avid movie consumers and collectors who would love the chance to buy good new Blu-ray and 4K releases of those titles. I hear from them every day. I can think of a dozen titles right off the top of my head that I’d personally love to have on physical 4K, some of which have never even had proper Blu-ray releases.

So Disney... it’s really up to you. Trust me when I say that you have a gold mine of great untapped titles in your vaults, even more so now that the Fox acquisition is complete. It’s easy profit—low-hanging fruit. Why not start picking it, especially now?

All right, enough said on that front.

One last note this afternoon...

It looks like Zavvi’s exclusive Steelbook release of Zack Snyder’s 300 in 4K Ultra HD did indeed sell out fast last night. I’m told they have one more exclusive 4K Steelbook to reveal this week. sp check back early tomorrow morning for that.

And that’s all for today. Depressing 4K news aside, have a great weekend, folks.

As always, stay tuned...

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)
Old 08-08-20, 11:19 AM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

The writing's been on the wall there for a good, long while. Hopefully they'll be more willing to license to labels like Shout Factory, Kino Lorber, and the like.
Old 08-08-20, 12:17 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Kind of obvious. They want to segue most if not all their home video resources to digital and this:


Old 08-08-20, 12:18 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

In fact, they just released a 4K version of the original X-Men on Disney + this week.

You're probably not going to see a new shiny 4K disc of it.
Old 08-08-20, 12:30 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Disappointing. I wouldn't say surprising, though I figured we had more time before an announcement like this. I'd be very happy if they started licensing titles out. They're sitting on so many titles.
Old 08-08-20, 01:02 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

I'm surprised only because a lot of people double dip, and I doubt the existence of physical media deters people from subscribing to Disney +. Now I would think going back to the whole "vault" strategy would be a thing: making their physical pieces more of a limited edition (until next time) collectors item and still allowing people that just want to watch the films to just subscribe to + to do so.
Old 08-08-20, 01:52 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

So I’ll never get Speed on 4K Blu-Ray, fantastic.......
Old 08-08-20, 02:20 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Disney was the first to ditch 3D for home. Let's hope that other studios don't follow suit they did on ditching 3D releases.
Old 08-08-20, 02:31 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

They'll still be putting out new titles on 4K, and they're still putting out most of their 3D titles in the UK- just got Onward from there. Kino has already been licensing many older Touchstone, Hollywood and Fox titles so they could just end up getting more in the long run.
Old 08-08-20, 02:46 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Originally Posted by DJariya View Post
In fact, they just released a 4K version of the original X-Men on Disney + this week.

You're probably not going to see a new shiny 4K disc of it.
The original X-Men hit Ultra HD Blu-ray two years ago.

The only X-movies that aren't on the format are the first two Wolverine spin-offs.

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
Kino has already been licensing many older Touchstone, Hollywood and Fox titles so they could just end up getting more in the long run.
KL's Disney deal was several years ago, and they've burned through almost all of those 200 titles. They've said that they don't have a new deal with Disney, and the chances of another deal anytime soon are very low. But I'm hoping something happens with somebody, or that at worst that they'll beef up Disney Movie Club with UHD exclusives.
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Old 08-08-20, 03:12 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

A hearty "fuck you" to everyone who thought Disney acquiring Fox was awesome because the X-Men could be in the MCU.
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Old 08-08-20, 07:32 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Yeah, we didn’t really need Disney to own Star Wars either.

Let’s just hope the rumor about licensing out to the boutique labels is true.
Old 08-08-20, 07:47 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Disney needs to clean house of all the executives making these decisions. I hate that they own the Fox Library and are doing absolutely nothing with it except vaulting so many great movies. Hopefully licensing out titles will happen.
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Old 08-08-20, 08:21 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
They'll still be putting out new titles on 4K, and they're still putting out most of their 3D titles in the UK- just got Onward from there. Kino has already been licensing many older Touchstone, Hollywood and Fox titles so they could just end up getting more in the long run.
Onward might both be our last ones. With this enormous shipping prices put on UK, assuming other European countries as well, it’s just not worth it. Would have to get off chart reviews, but even then...
Old 08-08-20, 08:22 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

so much for The Abyss, eh?
Old 08-08-20, 09:55 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Originally Posted by Bluelitespecial View Post
Disney needs to clean house of all the executives making these decisions.
They cleaned house of the good people that Fox had, when they should have stayed and the Disney people let go.
Old 08-08-20, 09:59 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Originally Posted by Adam Tyner View Post
The original X-Men hit Ultra HD Blu-ray two years ago.
Thanks for correcting me. I see it was released as a trilogy box set in 2018.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/x-men-t...?skuId=6265889

Totally went under my radar.
Old 08-08-20, 10:36 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

I imagine if it weren't for the Marvel movies, they'd more or less abandon physical media altogether. I've heard whispers this was happening but didn't want to believe it was true. It's all about pushing everything towards Disney Plus.

This was why I didn't want Disney acquiring Fox.
Old 08-08-20, 10:37 PM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

No "The Black Hole" in on UHD4K.

I have zero interest subscribing to Disney + or to 15 other different services to try to see a favorite movie I want to watch in the best quality at the spur of the moment.

The studios are really taking the fun out of collecting movies nowadays. This kind of stuff makes me want to just quit collecting altogether and sell off all my shit. Hell, I would certainly save a lot of money that way.

The movie industry is going into the shitter right now and killing off collectors like us certainly doesn't help them in the future. You think they would have possibly learned something from the music industry.
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Old 08-09-20, 03:28 AM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Yep a big hearty f-u to those that just wanted their X-Men in the MCU. Disney buying Fox was a terrible idea along with Lucasfilm.

So what are they going to do with their R-rated catalog they own now? None of those are ever gonna hit Disney+.
Old 08-09-20, 03:29 AM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Originally Posted by Michael Corvin View Post
Yep a big hearty f-u to those that just wanted their X-Men in the MCU. Disney buying Fox was a terrible idea along with Lucasfilm.

So what are they going to do with their R-rated catalog they own now? None of those are ever gonna hit Disney+.
Disney has said that more mature films will go to Hulu.
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Old 08-09-20, 03:44 AM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

That's what they say but I don't think that's happened at all.
Old 08-09-20, 08:12 AM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

Originally Posted by b2net View Post
Disney was the first to ditch 3D for home. Let's hope that other studios don't follow suit like they did on ditching 3D releases.
And also thought of the fact Disney picking Blu ray was the tie breaker in the HD format competition. Many companies follow Disney's decisions.
Old 08-09-20, 08:41 AM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

If Disney wants to stop putting out physical media, then fine. I just think it's a total dick move they bought Fox and just bury that studio into the ground.
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Old 08-09-20, 09:34 AM
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Re: Disney ending live action catalog 4K Physical Media???

I wonder if it's possible for 4K releases in other countries, like how other counties get 3D releases that we don't?

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