Disney Reportedly Exiting Australian Packaged-Media Market

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is reportedly exiting the DVD and Blu-ray Disc market in Australia, following similar moves in Asia and Latin America, as parent Disney focuses on digital retail channels and the Disney+ streaming platform for distribution of original movies across its brands, including Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and Pixar.

Following online chatter regarding the move, Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits, said he confirmed the exit following discussions with multiple sources.

Hunt reported that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be Disney’s last packaged-media release in Australia this year.

“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but there it is,” he wrote in a July 25 blog post.

A Disney representative was not immediately available for comment.

The disc format has been on steady decline with the rise in transactional VOD and streaming. Sales of discs in the United States dropped nearly 27% in the first quarter (ended March 31), to $377 million from $515 million, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Disney Denies Scaling Back 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc Releases

Following ongoing online scuttlebutt suggesting Walt Disney Studios planned to discontinue releasing catalog movies on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, the company issued a statement denying the rumors.

“There are no plans to discontinue releases in a particular format,” a Disney spokesperson told Forbes in a statement. “We evaluate each release on a case by case basis and pursue the best strategy to bring our content into consumer homes across platforms that meet a variety of demands.”

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Disney released its first 4K Ultra HD title in 2017 with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Subsequent releases include titles from 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures. Pending 4K UHD releases include  Hocus Pocus and Home Alone on Sept. 15.

However, in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic has locked down theaters, a vital source of Disney revenue, the studio has turned its attention toward its Disney+ streaming service and downplayed its physical-media releases.

On Aug. 7, Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits, wrote that Disney was not planning on releasing any future live-action catalog movies on 4K UHD Blu-ray, opting instead for 4K digital only.

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“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,” Hunt wrote.  The longtime industry observer wrote that he checked with “multiple reliable” sources on the matter. “I have indeed been able to essentially confirm the rumor.”

According to Hunt, Disney’s would still be releasing 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays for new-release theatrical titles, animated movies from the Disney Animation and Pixar studios, and “Star Wars” and “Marvel” franchise content.

Trump’s Alleged Mistress an Early Blu-ray Disc Supporter

Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who maintains she had a 10-month affair with President Donald Trump while he was married to future First Lady Melania, has ties to the home entertainment community.

At a 10th anniversary celebration for websites The Digital Bits and Home Theater Forum during the 2007 Home Media Expo (formerly VSDA Convention) in Las Vegas, McDougal popped in wearing a tight Blu-ray Disc promotional T-shirt.

The high-definition disc format had launched a year earlier and was being heavily promoted at the show, which took place in July 2007. At the time Blu-ray Disc was locked in a format war with rival high-definition disc format HD-DVD – which less than a year later conceded defeat, leaving Blu-ray Disc as the standard HD disc format.

Shown with McDougal are Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits and Ron Epstein of the Home Theater Forum.

McDougal gave a live interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on March 22 in which she claimed Trump tried to pay her after their first sexual encounter at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006, two years before this photo was taken.

“After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me,” she said. “And I actually didn’t know how to take that,” she said. “But I looked at him and I said, ‘That’s not me. I’m not that kind of girl.'”