An Australian retailer claimed that Disney would be cutting home media releases in Australia starting next month—and it has wider implications for the global entertainment industry if it is true.
- Australian retailer Sanity claimed this week in a deleted post on its Facebook page that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would be the last major Disney film to receive a physical media release in Australia on August 9.
- “Farewell to Disney’s physical media in Australia,” says Sanity, further claiming that now is the “Last Chance to Own Disney” movies on DVD, Bluray, and 4K.
- “To help clear up any confusion or questions. There is no way we would post this if we didn’t know it was happening. Guardians of the Galaxy will be the last preorder,” it says.
- Always Online noted that there are no current physical media listings for other Disney films including Little Mermaid or Elemental in Australia, while they do exist in other regions like North America.
Why It’s Important
These early reports could be facetious but still speak to problems of media accessibility and preservation in the changing film industry. The age of streaming has very much changed the general public’s movie buying habits, with most customers now generally avoiding buying new physical media releases in favor of waiting for new shows and movies to appear on their preferred streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or Paramount Plus.
This has harmed the industry overall, which used to be able to benefit from long-term revenue from DVD sales after the initial theatrical window but has since forced the industry to be more reliant on massive blockbuster successes in theaters while using blockbusters as a loss leader for subscription dollars.
The downside of this is that it has begun to harm accessibility to lost art and media in the long term. Many movies and television shows are produced exclusively for streaming services to use as an incentive for subscribers, and this means that career-defining works of art or entire portfolios for some creative teams are reliant on the stability of these businesses.
Recently, this stability proved dangerous as major streaming services like HBO Max and Disney+ began removing movies and TV shows from exclusive accessibility on their platform, all likely making them permanently inaccessible to the general public. This includes the Lucasfilm TV show Willow, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, the remake of Cheaper by the Dozen, and the Bryan Cranston movie The One and Only Ivan—which were removed as part of a $1.5 billion tax write-off. Disney+ removed its recently released Crater less than two months after releasing it.
Disney has been heavily criticized for limiting access to 20th Century Fox’s archive of historical films for revival screenings and anniversary screenings—including hundreds of classics like Alien, The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, Home Alone, and Fight Club. Disney also recently held off the physical release of Avatar: The Way of Water for six months while giving the show brief exclusivity on Disney+, suggesting a trend of pressuring viewers to sign up for Disney+ and downplaying new home media releases. No exclusive Disney+ content—including popular shows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision—has yet been released on home media.
Last year, Warner Bros. Discovery removed the series Final Space from HBO Max. The show is no longer widely accessible in any medium, with the series creator Olan Rogers lamenting, “Five years of my life. Three seasons of TV. Blood, sweat, and tears became a tax write-off for the network who owns Final Space … When the license is up internationally, Netflix will take it down, and then it will be gone forever. There are no more physical copies of S1 and S2, and no physical copies of Season 3 were ever made. Your memory of Final Space will be the only proof it ever existed unless you own a copy.”