DVD & Blu-Ray sales surge; Streaming distrusted

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Christopher Nolan has achieved some great feats of cinema in his career – but last November he pulled off something impressive on the smaller screen, too. Deep into the streaming era, where physical media can sometimes feel like a distant memory, the Blu-ray home video release of Nolan’s Oppenheimer – one of 2023’s biggest box office success stories – sparked a buying frenzy.

The 4K Ultra HD version of Oppenheimer sold out in its first week at major retailers, including Amazon. Universal released a statement saying they were working to replenish stock as quickly as possible. Some limited edition copies were fetching more than $200 on eBay. It was a sign that, for some people at least, nothing beats that feeling of holding a copy of something you love in your hand or seeing it on your shelf.

DVDs had their heyday in the early 2000s. The biggest-selling DVD of all time, Finding Nemo, was released in 2003 and shifted 38,800,000 copies. But sales have been on a steady decline since the mid-2000s. According to CNBC, US DVD sales declined by 86% between 2006 and 2019. Figures from the Motion Picture Association (MPAA) show that the international physical home entertainment market fell 16% from 2020 to 2021, while the digital market grew by 24% – and in 2021, physical media accounted for just 8% of the US entertainment market, or $2.8bn. US retailer Best Buy is phasing out DVD sales in early 2024, while Netflix finally closed their DVD rental service in 2023.

And yet, not only are there many people hanging onto their existing DVDs – there’s a committed number still buying them. “Home entertainment is resurgent globally, and the factors of influence can change each year, through new tech, pandemics, pipeline and slate,” Louise Kean-Wood from the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) tells BBC Culture. “But the future of physical is important to fandom, especially for 4K and Blu-ray – collectors and film and TV fans love the ownership and event of physical.” It’s not just older generations clinging onto the past, either. According to the MPAA, it’s those aged 25 to 39 who are the most likely to watch DVDs.

Read more at BBC.com


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!