The impact of extended COVID-19 lockdowns once more is prompting a diversion into Blogland; the topic this time is the merits of physical media over streaming.
A collection of more than 10,000 (and growing) DVD and Blu-ray sets in the Unreal TV Video Library shows that your not-so-humble reviewer puts his money where his mouth is as to extolling the virtues of physical media. Getting to watch virtually any desired content even more on-demand than streaming services that advertise that feature is a primary reason for going old school. Nine nights out of ten involve either pulling a specific craved title off the shelf or browsing the extensive selection in genre areas that mirror the categories on this site.
A recent example is an interest in watching the first "Star Trek" movie in the Kelvin timeframe trilogy leading to viewing all three films during the weekend. A desire last night led to browsing my Kids' section and selecting the SUPERB animated version of "Anastasia."
Much of this reflects my Gen X sensibility as to coming-of-age in an arguable era of theater renaissance just ahead of VHS proliferation causing a downturn in that brick-and-mortar industry. Cineplex Odeons brought a whiff of elegance back to the movies, and many older theaters received makeovers or full-blown facelifts. These upgrades made it fun to go to the movies, and the ticket prices did not compel you to go at 11:00 a.m. to save 50-percent or more on the inflated price of admission.
Further, not every release of the mid-80s was spectacular but at least offered decent entertainment. You typically could find a watchable film to fit your mood. It is highly likely that I watched the epic "Reds" within a few weeks of going to both a neo-noir film and literal or figurative John Hughes teencom.
My contrary experience as to the three streaming services to which I have access is that I rarely find a movie that excites me. Thanks to Covid-related lockdowns, I additionally have long exhausted what I consider viable options under the genres that parallel those of my 1,000 square-foot basement full of the best (including not-so-guilty pleasures) of Hollywood and beyond. The "annex" is the sci-fi series collection in my home office.
This leads to the economics of streaming over physical media. I find that many free titles are worth what I pay for them. Regarding the rest, it simply does not make sense to pay X amount to be able to rent a movie that you can watch once or to pay Y to own it for as long as you subscribe to that service or that service has the license to show it.
The typical price for a DVD (and often a Blu-ray) within a year of its release is $5. This is not to mention the bargains that are available at used DVD shops and public library sales in a non-Covid era.
The real-world example this time is "Rise of Skywalker." Plans to pay at least $30 for two tickets to watch it in a genuinely IMAX theater never worked out; as I recall, the price to rent "Skywalker" on demand was $25. That also was the cost to buy the 4K release, which I did purchase. I would have saved some money by waiting a few months.
Aside from spending less to own "Skywalker" than I would have for the privilege to watch a (likely inferior) rented version, adding that film to my collection allows watching the entire 11-movie "Star Wars" saga completely at my leisure.
Nicely anticipated end-of-year viewing includes "1917," "Ford vs. Ferrari," "Zombieland Double Tap," and "The Good Liar" I acquired all five films, two of which are Blu-rays, for roughly $40. This variety PERFECTLY reflects the options on any given Sunday at an Odeon in the '80s.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the movies of the '80s and '90s provided a desired diversion at a time of relative national stability and unity; it was neither the best nor the worst of times.
Conversely, the 21st century got off to a lousy start with the Y2K scare, the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, and the 911 attacks. We did not get much of a break until 2016 brought unprecedented Hell that turned especially deadly and divisive in 2020.
Additionally, streaming increasingly offering studios and distributors a more profitable option than physical media calls for getting while the getting is good. I already have missed out on countless desired titles and have picked up some just ahead of them getting locked in the vault, The context this time includes the recent announcement by Disney that it no longer will release vaulted movies after a decade-or-so in captivity.
The final word on this is that a lack of buying remorse likely will lead to a sense of not acting in haste but repenting at leisure regarding opting to not buy physical media.