Orson Welles Classic ‘The Lady From Shanghai’ Headed to 4K July 23

The Lady From Shanghai, the classic film noir written by, directed by, and starring Orson Welles, will be released on 4K Ultra HD July 23 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, hired to work on a yacht belonging to the disabled husband of femme fatale Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth), Michael O’Hara (Welles) is an innocent man drawn into a dangerous web of intrigue and murder.

The subject of great controversy and scandal upon its initial release, the film shocked 1948 audiences by presenting Hayworth with her flaming red hair cut short and dyed champagne blonde. The classic features the famous hall-of-mirrors climax hailed as one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history.

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The release, with the feature restored from the original camera negative and presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, includes commentary with Peter Bogdanovich; “A Conversation With Peter Bogdanovich”; and the theatrical trailer.

Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ Due on 4K Ultra HD June 25 for 40th Anniversary

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of its theatrical release, Purple Rain, the 1984 film starring Prince in his film acting debut, will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD disc and digital for the first time on June 25 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Purple Rain stars music icon Prince in his first film role as The Kid, alongside Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Olga Karlatos and Clarence Williams III.

The film was directed by Albert Magnoli from a screenplay by Magnoli and William Blinn and was produced by Robert Cavallo, Joseph Ruffalo and Steven Fargnoli. The original songs were composed and produced by Prince.

Purple Rain won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score (Prince), the Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special (Prince and the Revolution), and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (Prince).
 
In 2019, Purple Rain was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
 
For the 40th Anniversary of Purple Rain, the film has been restored digitally from an 8K scan of the 35mm Original Camera Negative (OCN).  The picture was also conformed to the original theatrical release aspect ratio of 1.85:1 to provide the most authentic theatrical presentation framing ever to be released to the home. The digitally restored picture was color graded in High Dynamic Range (HDR). The film’s audio was also restored from the original Dolby Stereo (LCRS) archived 35mm magnetic film source elements containing the separate dialogue, music, and effects (DME) tracks.  These restored elements along with the 20th anniversary’s 5.1 multi-channel print master were used to complete a newly remastered 5.1 presentation for the film.

In the film, rock star Prince makes his feature film debut in this highly autobiographical blockbuster. Headstrong, vulnerable young musician The Kid (Prince) struggles with his own inner demons and with his alcoholic father who beats his mother. But the madness infects his music, fueling a sound that transforms the struggling young rocker into a star. 

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The Purple Rain 4K UHD disc includes the following previously released special features: commentary by director Albert Magnoli, producer Robert Cavallo and cinematographer Donald E. Thorin; the “First Avenue: The Road to Pop Royalty” featurette; the “Let’s Go Crazy” music video; the “Take Me with U” music video; the “When Doves Cry” music video; the “I Would Die 4 U/Baby I’m a Star” music video; the “Purple Rain” music video; the “Jungle Love” music video; the “The Bird” music video; and the “Sex Shooter” music video.

Italian Drama ‘Goodbye Uncle Tom’ Due on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray April 23 From MVD and Blue Underground

The controversial 1971 Italian drama Goodbye Uncle Tom will be released on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc on April 23 on MVD Entertainment Group and Blue Underground.

Written, edited, produced and directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi of Mondo Cane fame, this recreation of the American slave trade atrocities was both condemned as depraved exploitation and acclaimed as an unprecedented cry of Black anguish and rage. It became one of the most reviled and misunderstood films of its time. In 1971, distributors forced the filmmakers to completely re-cut the film and radically re-write its extreme narration, removing more than 13 minute of race-war politics and inserting alternate scenes — creating what would become an entirely different film — before it could be released. More than 50 years later, both versions of Goodbye Uncle Tom can be seen in new restorations, scanned in 4K 16-bit from their original negatives, with Dolby Vision HDR (on the 4K release) and newly restored DTS-HD Master Audio, and with more than five hours of extras.

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Special features include The Importance of Shocking: Gualtiero Jacopetti, a feature-length documentary by director Andrea Bettinetti; The Godfathers of Mondo, a feature-length documentary by director David Gregory; “Goodbye Cruel Mondo,” interviews with writers/directors Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi, and composer Riz Ortolani; behind-the-scenes 8mm Footage with audio commentary by production manager Giampaolo Lomi; “Mondo Mercenaries,” an interview with author and academic Mark Goodall; “Abjection Under Authoritarianism,” an interview with professor Matthew J. Smith; still galleries, including Giampaolo Lomi’s behind-the-scenes photos; a bonus soundtrack CD by Riz Ortolani; and a collectible booklet with a new essay by Dan Madigan.

‘Madame Web’ Due on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD April 30

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the Marvel Comics-based Madame Web on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD April 30.

The film, which earned $99.8 million at the global box office, tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing’s most enigmatic heroines. The suspense thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who may have clairvoyant abilities. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women destined for powerful futures — if they can all survive a deadly present.

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Extras on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital include a gag reel; Easter eggs; “Oracle of the Page”; “Fight Like a Spider”; “Future Vision”; “Casting the Web”; and a deleted scene. Extras on the DVD include “Future Vision” and “Casting the Web.”

‘Chinatown’ Due on Limited-Edition 4K Ultra HD June 18 for 50th Anniversary

Paramount Home Entertainment will release the 1974 noir classic Chinatown on limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc on June 18 for its 50th anniversary.

In the film, Jack Nicholson is private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-war Southern California. Hired by a beautiful socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband’s extra-marital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits, uncovering a web of personal and political scandals that come crashing together for one, unforgettable night. The film inspired by real events also stars John Huston.

Robert Towne’s Academy Award-winning screenplay weaves a tragic and shocking tale of corruption, greed, and the human propensity for evil.  

Produced by the legendary Robert Evans, Chinatown was originally released on June 26, 1974, and received 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. In 1991, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

The limited-edition “Paramount Presents” release includes the restored film on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc for the first time ever. The restoration was completed using the original camera negative, which was repaired using the latest technology in areas that had been previously damaged, according to Paramount. 

“The result is a sparkling 4K Ultra HD presentation that uses more of the best possible source than previous masters and faithfully captures the film’s distinctively dreamy and simultaneously realistic look,” according to the Paramount press release.

The release includes new and legacy bonus content, access to a digital copy of the film, and a bonus Blu-ray with the 1990 sequel The Two Jakes, directed by and starring Jack Nicholson and written by Robert Towne.

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New bonus content includes:

  • “A State of Mind: Author Sam Wasson on Chinatown,” in which Sam Wasson, film historian and bestselling author of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, discusses the importance of the film and its legacy;
  • “Chinatown Memories,” in which producer Hawk Koch shares stories from his time as assistant director on the film; and
  • “The Trilogy That Never Was,” in which Sam Wasson discusses the planned third installment of what would have been a trio of movies featuring the character Jake Gittes. 
     

Additional legacy bonus content includes:

  • commentary by screenwriter Robert Towne with David Fincher;
    “Water and Power”;
  • “Chinatown: An Appreciation”;
  • “Chinatown: The Beginning and the End”;
  • “Chinatown: Filming”;
  • “Chinatown: Legacy”; and
  • the theatrical trailer.

 

‘Ocean’s’ Trilogy Arrives on 4K Ultra HD April 30

Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” trilogy of crime heist films — Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen — will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and digitally for the first time April 30 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Inspired by and based on the 1960 heist film Ocean’s 11, the three films are directed by Academy Award winner Soderbergh and feature ensemble casts including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison and Shaobo Qin.

The 4K remasters of Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) were completed at Warner Bros. Discovery’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) with the participation of Soderbergh. The restored 5.1 digital audio mix was overseen by original re-recording sound mixer and sound editor Larry Blake.

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The “Ocean’s” trilogy Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and digital contains the following previously released special features:

Ocean’s Eleven

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh and Ted Griffin
  • Commentary by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia
  • “Are You In or Out? The Making of Ocean’s Eleven”
  • “Pros & Cons: Inside Ocean’s Outfit”
  • “The Style of Steal”
  • “The Look of the Con”
  • “Original Ocean’s, Original Cool”

 

Ocean’s Twelve

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh and George Nolfi
  • “Ready, Jet Set, Go: The Making of Ocean’s Twelve”
  • “HBO First Look: Twelve Is the New Eleven: The Making of Ocean’s Twelve”
  • deleted scenes

 

Ocean’s Thirteen

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh, Brian Koppelman and David Levien
  • “Third’s a Charm: The Making of Ocean’s Thirteen
  • “Ahab with a Piggyback: The Means & Machines of Ocean’s”
  • “Jerry Weintraub Walk and Talk”
  • “Masters of the Heist”
  • deleted scenes

‘The Beekeeper’ Due on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD April 23

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment will release the Jason Statham action thriller The Beekeeper, from Amazon MGM Studios, for purchase on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on April 23.

The film has earned $151.5 million at the global box office.

In addition to Statham (The Meg, Furious 7, The Fate of the Furious, the “Transporter” films), Emmy Raver-Lampman (TV’s “The Umbrella Academy”), Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games” films), Bobby Naderi, Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting), Phylicia Rashad (Creed) and Jeremy Irons (TV’s “Watchmen”).

In The Beekeeper, one man’s brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as “Beekeepers.”

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‘American Hustle’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD Steelbook May 21

The 2013 Oscar-lauded feature American Hustle will be released in a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook combo pack on May 21 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, in time for its 10th anniversary.

The combo pack includes the film on 4K Ultra Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc and digital.

The crime drama earned a global gross of $251 million on a budget of $40 million and picked up 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

In the film from director David O. Russell, scam artists and lovers Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are entrapped by ambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and coerced into participating in a major sting operation that hinges on snaring crooked politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and his associates. Complicating matters is Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who could bring the whole operation crashing down around them all. 

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The film is presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, featuring English Dolby Atmos + 5.1 audio, with HDR and Atmos approved by director David O. Russell. Special features on the 4K disc include 15 minutes of never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes and the theatrical trailer. Special features on the included Blu-ray Disc are 11 deleted and extended scenes and “The Making of American Hustle.”

Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ Due in 4K Ultra HD on Disc and Digital April 23

The 2006 thriller The Departed from director Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas) will be available for purchase in 4K Ultra HD on disc and digital for the first time April 23 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture, Best Director (Scorsese), Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Departed stars Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant, The Wolf of Wall Street), Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Martian), Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment, As Good as It Gets), and Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Boogie Nights), with Martin Sheen (television’s “The West Wing,” Apocalypse Now), Ray Winstone (That Summer, Nil by Mouth), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Alec Baldwin (The Cooler), Anthony Anderson (television’s “Black-ish,” Hustle & Flow), and James Badge Dale in supporting roles.

The screenplay is by Academy Award Winner William Monahan and is based on the 2002 Hong Kong action thriller Internal Affairs by Alan Mak and Felix Chong. 

In the thriller set in Boston, a long-simmering hostility between the police department and an Irish American gang led by Frank Costello is primed to explode. The fuse is lit when a gangster is chosen to infiltrate the police force, and a young cop goes undercover within the gang.  When the two moles uncover each other’s identity, the battle begins.

The 4K remaster of The Departed was completed at Warner Bros. Discovery’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) with the participation of the film’s Academy Award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, The Aviator).

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Special features include “Guilt and Betrayal: Looking into The Departed” (new); “Stranger than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie, and The Departed”; “Crossing Criminal Cultures”; and nine deleted scenes with introductions by Scorsese. 

Home Entertainment 2024 — Transactional: PVOD, Collectors and Launch Parties

A growing number of studio executives and other industry observers say they believe transactional home entertainment — the traditional, a la carte method of bringing a movie or show into the home, either to watch or to own — may be in the early stages of a resurgence.

The realization that subscription streaming is not sustainable on its own has prompted studios to take a second look at what was once the primary “second window” for movies fresh off their theatrical runs, and the result is that more and more films are being released for digital or physical purchase or rental before they are handed off to the streaming services.

SEE ALSO: Home Entertainment 2024, Part 1 – Streaming: Bundling, Ads, Reruns and Live Sports

Through much of 2022, as the world was still grappling with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner, Disney and Paramount were still releasing the majority of their films to their streaming services on the same day as their traditional home entertainment release. Today, all three studios have brought back windows. New theatrical movies are typically available transactionally several weeks before their subscription streaming debuts.

Bob Buchi

“It’s about maximizing the content life cycle through windowing, just as it’s always been,” said Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment,

At Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, division president Michael Bonner notes that both The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Oppenheimer “yielded new benchmarks in digital and physical, demonstrating some of the highest transactional performance levels across the business that we have seen this year. The performance of The Super Mario Bros. Movie was especially standout, earning more digital revenue than any other theatrically released Universal movie ever. Results for Oppenheimer’s 4K Ultra HD release were equally notable, currently tracking in its debut window to be Universal’s biggest-selling 4K title of all time.”

David Decker, president of content sales at Warner Bros. Discovery, also said his division “had a successful 2023, driven by Barbie‘s ‘pink wave’ and the health of the WBD catalog, and punctuated by our ‘WB 100th Anniversary’ promotion. We are finishing the year with digital sales up over pre-pandemic levels.”

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Digital Deluge

Given the higher margins of digital releases — and fewer headaches because there are no manufacturing or shipping costs, not to mention returns — studios in 2023 began focusing on making films available for digital sale or rental much sooner than in the past, often at a premium price. This past year has seen a significant uptick in premium video-on-demand, or PVOD, releases, with films fresh from their theatrical runs becoming available to rent or buy at higher prices as early as 18 days after their big-screen debuts before the price is lowered to the standard transactional price of $5.99 for a rental and $19.99 for a sale. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Trolls Band Together, for example, was released Dec. 19 — just one month after its theatrical debut — at a rental price of $19.99 and a purchase price of $29.99. Six days earlier, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour was released for digital rental only at $19.89, also by UPHE, about 60 days after it opened in theaters — still much shorter than the traditional 90-day window.

Michael Bonner

Even Apple allowed its high-profile film Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese, to be released via PVOD prior to its debut on Apple TV+.

UPHE’s Bonner said 2023 “reinforced our view of the importance of the home entertainment category, led by some impressive title successes across both premium and traditional windows. When studios release titles under a compressed window framework that includes an exclusive home entertainment offering, consumer engagement for transactional formats is very strong.”

Taking Aim at Collectors

The disc business, meanwhile, continues to decline, kept alive by a growing reliance on the collector market and a hope among some for a vinyl-like resurgence.

“Initially, the disc market was driven by families with kids,” said one insider. “Now, the business is being driven by collectors, as evidenced by continued year-over-year growth in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales.”

Still, 2023 was a tough year for the disc business, with total consumer spending this year expected to come at less than $2 billion — less than 10% of what consumers spent on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in the peak year of 2006.

In early September, Ingram Entertainment, once the largest distributor of physical home entertainment product, announced it is getting out of the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business. “Expenses are exceeding sales [so it’s] time to exit,” chairman and CEO David Ingram told Media Play News. Later that month, Netflix shut its legacy disc-rental business and let customers keep whatever discs they had out. And in October, the Best Buy retail chain announced it would exit the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business beginning in the first quarter of 2024.

But things may be looking up for the disc, which once was such a crucial revenue stream that DVD sales projections were factored into the movie greenlighting process.

The streaming services’ content purge may prompt more consumers to consider a la carte options, studio insiders say. And the tendency of digital purchases to sometimes disappear from consumer libraries — a hurdle in getting more people to shell out $20 for a digital movie — may also drive disc purchases.

Critics contend a primary reason disc sales are in a protracted slump is studio indifference. They say the number of theatrical catalog releases has plummeted in recent years, paving the way for pirates. And while fresh new theatrical films continue to be released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD, special features are becoming increasingly scarce while quality issues abound.

“The studios have checked out,” said industry analyst Ralph Tribbey, who has been tracking discs sales through his DVD & Blu-ray Disc Release Report since DVD was launched in 1997.

But that’s not entirely true. Paramount continues to create collectible disc offerings for a wide array of titles in its vast and storied library, such as a deluxe anniversary package with hours of bonus content for Titanic, new additions to its acclaimed Paramount Presents line such as Terms of Endearment, and newly remastered 4K Ultra HD releases of classics from Roman Holiday to The Truman Show.

Demand for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Oppenheimer was so great that retailers were running out of copies, prompting Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to issue a statement promising to “replenish those retailers quickly so fans can watch the film at home in the best picture quality possible.” Meanwhile, retail-exclusive editions of the film commanded big prices on the secondary market, with Best Buy’s 4K Steelbook edition of the film listed on eBay at an average asking price of well over $100.

And then there’s Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, the latest name for The Walt Disney Co.’s home entertainment operation. The division made headlines in August when it announced it is exiting the disc business in Australia. But just days later, Disney announced plans to roll out several of its popular Disney+ series, including “The Mandalorian,” “WandaVision” and “Loki,” as “Collector’s Edition” 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs in Steelbook packaging.

Since then, Disney has packaged 100 of its animated films into a massive Blu-ray Disc boxed set retailing for $1,500 and issued Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first of its iconic animated classics, on 4K Ultra HD.

David Decker

WBD’s David Decker says the physical business “continues to represent a meaningful portion of our transactional revenue, and WBD remains committed to the category. We will keep reaching casual consumers and avid fans where and how they want our content: from best-in-class 4K Blu-rays to remastered and re-released films on 4K UHD from our 100-year library of titles.”

Independent film distributors such as Ed Seaman, CEO of MVD Entertainment Group, also see opportunity ahead.

“In disc sales, as studios and brick-and-mortar retailers continue to bail, the opportunity grows for both independent distribution and retail/e-commerce,” Seaman said. “Savvy dealers will pick up more and more great movies and shows and feed the strong demand for the end user, who has a huge appetite for collectible content.”

Keeping the Party Going

Studios have also resumed a practice that subsided years ago when streaming became the dominant form of home entertainment consumption: gala release parties celebrating the disc debut of high-profile new theatrical films.

Disney in January 2023 threw a release party for journalists and social-media influencers to promote the Blu-ray Disc release of the thriller The Menu. The party was held at the Blockbuster pop-up on trendy Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and included as guests stars Aimee Carrero, Arturo Castro and Mark St. Cyr. Guests enjoyed drinks that they could order by presenting bartenders with an appropriately labeled Blockbuster videocassette box and “well-made” cheeseburgers from Irv’s Burgers, the historic West Hollywood burger stand.

In September, Disney hosted a dance party at the California Science Center in Los Angeles to celebrate the digital and disc release that day of the live-action feature The Little Mermaid.

And November saw two disc release parties. To promote the DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD release of Oppenheimer, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment held a screening of a making-of documentary, introduced by director Christopher Nolan, at the Linwood Dunn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood. And over in Venice Beach, Disney held a “Haunting in Venice … Beach!” party for A Haunting in Venice, highlighted by trivia for Agatha Christie and murder mystery fans, typewriter poets who wrote on-the-spot personalized poems for partygoers, and sessions with medium Christina Engelhardt.

Lastly, Paramount Home Entertainment in December held a party at Pizzeria Mozza to celebrate the 4K and Blu-ray Disc release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Guests included filmmakers Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver and Jeff Rowe.

Distribution Issues

One big development on the disc front that occurred in 2023 is word that Walmart, the biggest physical retailer of DVD and Blu-ray Disc with a market share of 45%, is looking to consolidate distribution through Studio Distribution Services (SDS), the joint venture formed by Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. back in April 2021 to sell and distribute DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs in North America. The venture is headed by Eddie Cunningham, a former president of UPHE, a steadfast champion of physical media.

Eddie Cunningham

Cunningham is calling for the elimination of the window — typically two weeks — between a film’s digital release and its physical release, a practice instituted more than a decade ago by the studios in the hopes of jump-starting the electronic sellthrough, or EST, business.

“I do think it is time to closely align disc and EST release dates,” Cunningham said. “While it was clearly the right decision to give EST a short window in the early formative, and massive growth, stages of that developing business, both EST and disc are now mature businesses. I would now let the consumer decide how they want to view content in home entertainment. I believe many of studio our partners are looking at this issue objectively and that we will see some significant movement in that direction in 2024.”

Speaking privately, studio executives say the key obstacle to such a move is one of logistics. Since so many new films are being released through PVOD, there simply isn’t enough time to prepare a disc release on the same day. Traditionally, films come to home entertainment about three months after their theatrical bow; with PVOD, the window can be as short as 18 days.

But Cunningham maintains that at the very least the window should be eliminated between a film’s disc and standard digital release, “where materials can be prepared early enough to work through the much more complex compression and authoring, manufacturing, and distribution challenges unique to the disc business.”

Prospects for 2024

Looking ahead, studio executives are looking at the transactional business with guarded optimism for 2024, particularly on the PVOD front.

 “We expect that extended studio and retailer support of early availability, in addition to strong consumer demand for accelerated theatrical-to-home releases, will continue to fuel meaningful growth of the premium window, offsetting the decline of physical and delivering significant value to the home entertainment ecosystem,” said UPHE’s Bonner.

Adam Frank

“We are seeing strong growth in the transactional marketplace across new releases as well as the weekly and monthly catalog run rate for our own business,” said Adam Frank, EVP of global partner management, sales and distribution for Lionsgate. “The industry is moving away from release-strategy fragmentation as studios prioritize a healthy ‘free-and-clear’ transactional window post-theatrical. This trend should lead to higher engagement from our core transactional audience and an influx of new consumers.”

Paramount’s Bob Buchi agrees. “We know that fans still love to own and collect their favorite films and television shows, which is why we continue to support the physical disc business,” he said. “At the same time, we live in an increasingly digital world so we are exploring some enticing and novel ways to augment both the collectability and gift-ability of digital content. There are exciting developments on the horizon, and just as the home entertainment industry has always done, we will continue to evolve and adapt to changing technologies and consumer behavior.”

Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Decker said that in 2024, WBD is looking to build “on our 2023 momentum. We have exciting new releases coming with titles such as Dune 2, Furiosa (the “Mad Max” prequel) and Beetlejuice 2.”

Decker added that he believes windowing of new releases “is finding its footing. Barbie had one of the biggest premium windows of the year, and the release strategy also helped the film’s historic box office success. We will evolve our strategy in 2024 with more data-driven analysis, working closely with our colleagues at WB Pictures and Max on each individual title. We are relentlessly focused on getting these incredible movies in front of as many people as possible, through the best possible viewing experiences, and at price points that satisfy consumer demands. For us, Barbie said it best: ‘It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow and every day from now until forever.’”