My Two Cents
Tuesday, 14 January 2020 16:36

My Bloody Valentine update, Parasite, Quiet Place 4K Steelbook, new BD reviews, and more on CES & physical media

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All right, we’ve got some news and more perspective on CES and the state of physical media here at the start of 2020. But first, we have more new Blu-ray reviews for you...

First of all, Dennis provides another perspective on Todd Phillips’ Joker on BD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. He seems to have liked it a little more than I did. Do check out his thoughts.

Dennis has also turned in a look at Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

And Tim has a review of Richard Franklin’s Road Games (1981), now available in a new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

Speaking of Scream, the company has just announced that their forthcoming Blu-ray Collector’s Edition of My Bloody Valentine is going to include new 4K scans of both the original theatrical edition and also the Uncut version mastered from the original camera negative. [Read on here...]

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The label has added this note about the release however: “The infamous originally-filmed ‘Harriet drill bit’ kill scene was not found or included unfortunately. We looked and asked endlessly. It was not on the original negative and there was no workprint footage we could locate. Trust us, we love the movie just as much as you and we tried!” Still, mostly good news, especially that Paramount was able to located the original uncut negative of the film.

Extras will include the following on Disc One: A new 4K scan of the original camera negative, 8 featurettes (An Anemic Valentine: An Interview with Director George Mihalka, From the Heart: An Interview with Actor Paul Kelman, Friends of Mine: An Interview with Actress Lori Hallier, Axel, Be My Valentine: An Interview with Actor Neil Affleck, Becoming Sylvia: An Interview with Actress Helene Udy, The Secret Keeper: An Interview with Actor Rob Stein, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones: An Interview with Special Makeup Effects Designer Tom Burman, and Holes in the Heart: A Look at the Difference Between the Theatrical Version and the Uncut Version), the original theatrical trailer, original TV spots, original radio spots, and a still gallery.

Disc Two includes: A new 4K scan of the uncut original camera negative, new audio commentary with director George Mihalka, the My Bloody Valentine: 35th Anniversary Cast Reunion Panel featurette, and Thomas Kovacs Performs “The Ballad of Harry Warden” at the Bay of Blood Convention.

Now then... Universal has just officially announced the Blu-ray and DVD release of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite on 1/28, with a 4K Digital version that’s now available as of today. At the moment, it appears that the 4K is strictly Digital only here in the States, though it’s possible that a physical 4K version could be released later if sales of the title are strong enough. Extras will include a Q&A with Director Bong Joon-ho featurette.

Also, Paramount has revealed that John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place is being re-issued on 4K Ultra HD on 3/10 in new Mondo Steelbook packaging. This is timed to promote the theatrical release of the sequel film, which hits theaters on 3/20. You can see the cover artwork above left and also below.

Now then... back on the topic of CES and physical media. Some of you longtime readers may have noticed, but I haven’t personally attended CES in a couple of years now. And the reason is simple: The Hollywood studios have almost no presence at the show anymore, and there simply haven’t been all that many significant 4K and Blu-ray related developments at the show. Essentially, no new 4K or Blu-ray players have been announced there—certainly not this year. And the only significant development at the show this year was the news from the Ultra HD Association that Samsung and Philips are going to support Filmmaker Mode, as we said yesterday.

Here’s the thing about that: All of that news can be more easily covered from the office rather than by actually attending the show. And I regularly meet with studios and industry folk here in SoCal anyway—there’s just little need to actually attend CES in person.

Really all of the news at CES this year was focused on new 4K and especially 8K displays. But again, there’s just no need for 8K. Sure, advocates will say: “But upscaling algorithms are getting so good that native 4K material will look great on 8K!” I have little doubt that’s true. But aside from a few newer films shot on IMAX or classic titles shot in 65mm, there’s just no native 8K content. Again, most films still post finish on 2K DIs, though native 4K DIs are finally becoming more common. But finishing in native 8K—especially rendering VFX work at 8K in post-production—would be enormously expensive and time-consuming. There are no plans for an 8K physical media format that would be necessary to deliver the content to consumers at full bandwidth. And most people (especially in the US) still don’t have the Internet bandwidth to view high quality 4K material via streaming, much less 8K. The simple fact is, every physical media format since DVD has won over a smaller and smaller portion of the consumer market. Blu-ray has a smaller audience than DVD, and 4K has a smaller audience than Blu-ray. In fact, look at these home video sales percentages for the first week of 2020 (per NPD VideoScan and Media Play News)...

UHD Market Share (week ending 1/4/20)

Granted, there weren’t a lot of big and much-demanded 4K titles released in the 4th quarter, and this is in the way of consumer spending for Christmas, but still. Those are not huge sales numbers for 4K discs. And DVD still dominates all disc sales, more than a decade into the Blu-ray format.

One interesting thing that does happen at CES every year is that my friends at the Digital Entertainment Group release their annual year-end report on home entertainment. The good news is that overall home entertainment spending in the US rose 8.4% to $25.2 billion in 2019, an all-time record. The bad news is that the gains were all in Digital spending. Digital sell-thru increased up 5.1% to $2.58 billion, while physical media sell-thru was down a whopping 18.3%. Combined, all sell-thru was down 9.4%. Subscription streaming, however, was up 23.7%, for a total Digital gain of 17.5% in 2019 over 2018.

Think about what that means: Physical media dropped another 18% in 2019. You may recall our coverage (from this time last year) of CES 2019, when we reported that physical media had dropped 14.6% in 2018 over 2017. And in our coverage of CES 2018, we reported that physical media sales dropped 14.1% in 2017 from 2016.

The trend lines are all downward for physical media, and the rate of decline is beginning to accelerate.

So our message to all those of you who love film and TV entertainment content on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K continues to be this: Support those formats as long as you can with your spending dollars. Discs aren’t going away for a good while yet. 4K and Blu-ray continue to be supported by the Hollywood studios and especially indie labels, and we expect that to continue for quite a few years yet. This is certainly helped by the fact that Sony will be including a physical 4K drive in their new PlayStation 5, which is expected to launch in November of this year. Microsoft’s Xbox Series X will also include a 4K UHD drive when it arrives in time for the holidays. And given that the average lifetime of these game systems is about 9 years, that means there will be physical media support for a good number of years yet.

But there is no doubt that physical media will become the niche format over that time, with more and more mainstream consumers shifting mostly or entirely to Digital consumption. That’s just life, and time, and the advancement of technology.

So buy your favorite movie and TV titles on disc while you can, as often as you can. The more of you there are who do, the more titles we’re all going to get and the longer Hollywood will continue to support discs.

But you’d better be open to embracing Digital only releases too, because more and more 4K titles in particular are only going to be released in that way going forward.

As Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a-changin.”

We’ll leave you with a look at the cover artwork for a couple of the titles mentioned above (and more) with Amazon links if available...

My Bloody Valentine: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Disc) A Quiet Place (Mondo X Steelbook Blu-ray) Ford v Ferrari (4K Ultra HD)

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)



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