Collider.com has reported that Disney will no longer sell DVD and Blu-Ray hard copies of their films due to a declining market that has seen a major shift to the digital platform.
This may not seem like a huge deal but it is something to keep an eye on around the rest of the world. Australia is the start but it won't inevitably be the last.
Even in the U.S. sales of physical copies of movies have started to dwindle over the last decade. Gone are the brick-and-mortar stores like Blockbuster and now physical movie rentals are relegated mostly to Red Box kiosks.
The U.S. has also seen the selections at retail stores dwindle and many films are not carried at all forcing purchasers to turn to online retail stores for purchasing. Netflix ended its own disc-to-door DVD program in the last two years and it went away with little fanfare.
For most viewers, as we are seeing in Australia where Guardian of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 will be the last hard copy sold from Disney, the increase in digital streaming is bringing film ownership to an end.
Why is this important? For many families, especially those with children, portable movie players are a big part of long travel trips and streaming can be near impossible at times. Physical discs provide an opportunity to easily watch movies and keep younger kids occupied.
Streaming has become a major part of the entertainment business. From networks like Netflix which have become 100% streaming to, of course, Disney +, movies are leaving theaters and hitting digital streamers much faster. To say nothing about the Blu-Ray/DVD release dates that now typically come after a movie is released to digital services like Apple TV, Amazon, and VUDU.
Another problem is not all movies are coming with digital copy codes like they used to. While most still do, the digital copy trend pushed into a 3rd party resell market where the codes are sold for sometimes up to 75% of the original cost of the physical disc. Consider a movie that might cost you $19.99 with a digital copy that is now available online as a digital copy for $12-15.00 depending on when you purchase it.
As more and more movie owners transition to the digital world and build large libraries (I have over 1,800 movies in my digital collection) the need for physical copies isn't a priority, reducing production saves money for the distributors, and reduces the stock at retailers.
Disney is making a big move to stop future sales of physical movie copies and if this works in Australia, it is only a matter of time before it starts to creep around the rest of the world.