Disney Announces End of "Disney Movie Club," Inks Deal with Sony to Handle Physical Media

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(February 20, 2024) It's been a big day for the Mouse. First, Disney announced the closure of its Disney Movie Club, a service that provides exclusive Blu-ray and DVD titles and discounted pricing on catalog titles.

“We’ve enjoyed serving you for the last 23 years, but consumer behavior and viewing preferences continue to evolve, so we have made the tough decision to close Disney Movie Club,” read an official statement from Disney. "After serving over 10 million valued Club Members, we have made the difficult decision to close the Disney Movie Club. We will miss the opportunity to be part of the lives of so many Disney fans, including you, but we will be forever grateful for the time you've chosen to spend with us. But we're not done yet! In the months to come, we'll be piling on the perks to celebrate you, our loyal Member. Look for amazing offers to help you finish building your collection with movies you love - for memories that are yours to cherish forever."

The Movie Club has enjoyed a 23-year run, giving fans access to films and special collectibles, focusing on hard-to-find catalog titles and 4K versions of some releases. According to Disney, the club will officially close on July 20th and new orders can only be submitted until May 20, 2024. What happens next is an unknown, particularly because many obscure titles aren't available on the company's Disney+ streaming service.

In a second bit of HUGE news, Disney also announced an agreement with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to take over all of Disney’s physical media production; it's a licensing deal. According to Variety and The Digital Bits, Sony will manufacture, distribute, and market Disney's physical media to US and Canadian customers. Disney, however, will maintain control over its digital media and video-on-demand content.

Disney says the deal is a move toward efficiency, though it's unclear how it will impact the company's internal workforce.

As we reported on this week's Home Theater News Review Podcast, data recently released by the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) paints a bleak picture for physical media. The DEG says 2023 home entertainment spending across digital and physical formats topped $43 billion, a 17% increase over 2022. But that number is primarily carried by digital mediums. Sales and rentals of physical formats, including DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K discs, declined over 25% during 2023, slipping from $2.1 billion to $1.6 billion. Contributing to that decline is a reeling rental scene, which crashed during the fourth quarter of 2023 when Netflix shuttered its physical subscription business.

Physical media is on life support. Obviously, the Mouse is one step closer to helping pull the plug.


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VJM

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I was thinking last year might be pretty good for physical media sales, but not so apparently
 

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It's not a pretty picture right now... and 4K disc sales have been atrocious this month when considering market share. Hopefully that will change, but we need good, high quality content to drive demand. We need more Oppenheimers!
 

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Since I have a Kscape for the past couple years I've been buying from there but I still buy at least 1 or 2 boutique releases a month.
 

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I'm in the same boat as you. Primarily K-scape, but I do bring a few titles here and there. The Others on Criterion was my most recent
 

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Oh I forgot about that, I bought The Others when it came out, I need to get that on my "watch" list!

I hear the Atmos track is really good.
 

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I've not watched it either. It's on my stack tho! Unfortunately, Kscape keeps my eyes away from the disc stack... :dizzy:
 

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Interestingly, I did not see this as a negative for physical media. I am excited to have Sony producing the Disney discs. On the whole, Sony discs are fantastic A/V-wise. Disney movies will hopefully get a boost in A/V quality due to this deal!
 

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Interestingly, I did not see this as a negative for physical media. I am excited to have Sony producing the Disney discs. On the whole, Sony discs are fantastic A/V-wise. Disney movies will hopefully get a boost in A/V quality due to this deal!
I hope your right, although I think Sony will be pressing and releasing the disks, I think Disney will be providing the transfer and soundtrack like they do for streaming services and Kscape.
 

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Interestingly, I did not see this as a negative for physical media. I am excited to have Sony producing the Disney discs. On the whole, Sony discs are fantastic A/V-wise. Disney movies will hopefully get a boost in A/V quality due to this deal!

That same thought crossed my mind... as @VJM eludes, this licensing deal likely only hands off the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of discs. Tho... The Digtal Bits hints that catalog decisions might be left up to Sony. So, does that mean that Sony will receive a container that allows them to make decisions on how the film will be mixed for home release? Don't know... one can certainly hope! And if it does, it would likely only be for new, yet-to-be-released films on disc.
 

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Ahhh, so Sony is literally taking whatever Disney gives them and just slapping it on a disc. That makes this not as exciting. At least they may start using 100 GB discs instead 66 GB which could translate to a better experience.
 
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Yes, I believe that's exactly how it will work, though I'd hazard to guess that Sony will have the ability to decide what titles are getting pressed. It sounds like Disney is shifting its focus away from decision-making in the physical space.
 

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I'm a big physical media guy, so this is a little disheartening. For me it's more about collecting than it is fear of not finding whatever it is on a streaming service. Audio quality is also a priority for me. Between this news on Disney and your report from this week's HTNR it's not looking great.
 
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