Blu-rays never really took off in the way that the movie industry was expecting. This was mostly to do with streaming services taking the wind out of the format; Why own and pay for a single physical disc when, for £8 a month, you can stream as much as you want? Yet there are reasons for someone to buy a Blu-ray. AV nerds are always in search of the best quality they can find, and HD Blu-rays often have better bitrates than a 4K stream (the higher the bitrate the more information and higher quality the picture regardless of resolution). A 4K Blu-ray raises the bar even further.
For me, the best part of owning the physical media is the special features, and in particular the special features. It’s not very often that you come across a title that doesn’t have at least some special features, but it’s more likely that what is included is brief and surface level.
The Blu-ray that bought this to my attention was for Avengers: Endgame. The accumulation of 22 movies and over 10 years of effort for the Blu-ray to only offer [insert number] of short features about the characters that have been in the MCU the longest. There are no documentaries, no deep dive into how they made the top-grossing film of all time, and no revelations on what happened on set. What’s worse is you can find more in-depth special features on Marvels YouTube page.
And when special features are done right, it can be an insightful peek behind the curtain. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, had an expansive feature-length documentary exploring how they made the 8th instalment of the saga. My opinion of the film aside (I thought it was OK), the documentary went into so much depth that it helped me understand some of the choices the creative team made. Both the Avengers and Star Wars are owned by Disney, so why is there such disparity between the two franchises?
Now, I know that people might not have the same lifelong affinity for the film production process as I do, but as physical movie sales decline, there should be more to entice people to buy the Blu-rays over streaming. Give the customer more perceived value in what they have bought. Maybe it’s not worth the studios time to hire a separate production company to shoot and cut these behind the scenes docs for a declining audience, but they’re making a minimum effort anyway. The types of customers who buy the Blu-rays are often some of the most ferocious fans of film, so why not to reward their passion?
I want to continue to buy Blu-rays, but as the window between the physical and streaming release shortens it’s becoming an increasingly difficult choice to buy the Blu-ray, even if I am taking a hit in visual and audio fidelity.