What to know about Disney's new deal with Sony regarding the hard copy video market

Disney and Sony have made a stunning new deal for the home video market! Just what goes into it?
Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 - Courtesy of Disney Plus
Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 - Courtesy of Disney Plus /

Just as news came of the Disney Movie Club ending, Disney has struck a deal that can shift up the home video market! What does this new deal with Sony mean? 

It’s no secret the home video market is not what it once was. Thanks to the domination of streaming services, folks are no longer demanding DVD or Blu-Ray discs. There are exceptions, such as Oppenheimer, a huge hit on Blu-Ray. Also, brands like Criterion and Arrow Video are attempting to keep it alive with special releases of past films.

However, it looks like Disney has been backing out of the market, including announcing the closing of the long-running Disney Movie Club. This is a unique turn, given that Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg pushed Disney into home video back in the 1980s, which led to huge success. Not only did they give scores of forgotten Disney movies new life, but it also led to a wave of direct-to-video sequels to animated hits like Aladdin and others. 

Now, word has come that Disney will be reaching out to Sony for a new deal that has Sony become the exclusive distributor for Disney movies on Blu-Ray in the U.S. and Canada. Just what does this mean for both companies and customers?

What goes into the Disney-Sony physical media deal?

First broken by the Digital Bits and later confirmed by outlets like The Hollywood Reporter, the deal is that Sony will market, sell, and distribute all Disney’s new releases and catalog titles on physical media to consumers through retailers and distributors in the U.S. and Canada. Disney will continue to manage its own digital media, like premium video-on-demand.

The first movie under the deal will be The First Omen, which will be released by Fox in April. Disney is framing it as a periodic “reevaluation” of the home entertainment market and tied into the company’s attempts at cost-cutting in the last year. Given the downturn in sales of physical media (as evidenced by Best Buy ceasing sales of them in their stores), Disney making a new partnership makes sense. 

It should be noted that Sony is the only major studio without a streaming service of their own and still has a dedicated physical media department. Thus, they can help produce and mass-market discs better than Disney can, as that department has been affected by layoffs in the last few years. 

There hasn’t been an official announcement yet but the deal is likely to be finalized soon and the shift from Disney to Sony home video taking place in a few months. Either way, it’s another sign of how vastly different the home video market has become for Disney to reach out to another company to keep producing what was once an essential part of the company.