Here’s a question for media consumers out there: do you own physical copies of the things you watch or listen to? If you were born in the early 2000s and below, then you’ve surely been exposed to video tapes, CDs, CD players, and the like.
Some may even have bought pirated copies (sorry not sorry?) from Greenhills, Greenbelt 1, or somewhere else in the past. No, we’re not shaming you for doing that—it’s literally a canon event in a Filipino’s life. It’s just that…in a world full of streaming platforms and sites, do physical copies of these media still even matter?
For filmmakers Guillermo del Toro and Christopher Nolan, they still do.
Earlier in November 2023, Christopher Nolan was reported to have made a “playful jab” towards streaming services during a Los Angeles screening of his latest movie, “Oppenheimer.” During the screening, Nolan had shared that “a lot of time and energy” was spent on piecing together the Blu-ray version of “Oppenheimer” in the effort of “preserving the film’s soundscape.”
Nolan said, “Obviously ‘Oppenheimer’ has been quite a ride for us and now it is time for me to release a home version of the film. I’ve been working very hard on it for months…I’m known for my love of theatrical and put my whole life into that, but, the truth is, the way the film goes out at home is equally important.
He then went on to share about how his movie ‘The Dark Knight’ was one of the first films formatted for Blu-ray release because it was unheard of at the time. “And in the case of ‘Oppenheimer,’ we put a lot of care and attention into the Blu-ray version…and trying to translate the photography and the sound, putting that into the digital realm with a version you can buy and own at home and put on a shelf so no evil streaming service can come steal it from you.”
In recent years, streaming has become the more popular method for audiences to re-watch films that have been shown in cinemas and movie theaters around the globe. According to Christopher Nolan in an interview with IGN, he referred to this time as a “scary” one for filmmakers. With regards to owning physical media, Nolan said, “No company is going to break into your house and take it from you and repossess it. It’s yours and you own it. That’s never really the case with any form of digital distribution.”
Oscar-winning Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro agreed with the British-American filmmaker in his jabs against streaming, sharing his own thoughts on his personal X (formerly Twitter) account.
Physical media is almost a Fahrenheit 451 (where people memorized entire books and thus became the book they loved) level of responsibility. If you own a great 4K HD, Blu-ray, DVD etc etc of a film or films you love… you are the custodian of those films for generations to… https://t.co/ETGUNhKNoL
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) November 20, 2023
In his post, Del Toro emphasized how film enthusiasts are “custodians” of the films they buy copies of for future generations.
A couple of streaming platforms have been blasted on the internet just in the last year for pulling out original titles from their platforms to license it elsewhere. One notorious case is seen with Warner Bros., where they “quietly pulled out” 6 HBO Max titles from the streaming platform– sci-fi romcom “Moonshot,” AI dystopian comedy “Superintelligence,” the 2020 Robert Zemeckis remake of “The Witches,” comedy “An American Pickle,” heist film “Locked Down,” and drama “Charm City Kings.”
Another case with Warner Bros. was their decision to not release “Batgirl” in both theaters and streaming, even after the film had concluded filming. And just this year, the company also announced that it will not be releasing the John Cena top-billed live-action and CG hybrid of “Coyote vs. Acme,” despite having finished the principal photography for the film in 2022.
Disney+ has also done the cut on some of its original titles on the streaming platform, the most recent one being ‘Crater,’ a sci-fi adventure about a group of children hijacking a rover before one of them relocates to a new planet. The film was removed on June 30, 2023, and was later digitally released in September.
So, seeing all this, just how important is it for us to have and own physical copies of the media we consume?
From the way we see it, it really, really is.
Well, yes it can be expensive especially if you’re just a casual watcher who just wants to watch things where it’s convenient but take a look from this perspective. If you spend so much on your hobbies, trinkets, Sonny Angels, Smiskis, Photocards, Albums, books, etc., what stops you from spending on physical copies of films you loved watching?
That’s what some of us did, especially when we were all younger and more exposed to video tapes, CD players, and the rest. Remember all those ‘Barbie’ movie CDs or ‘Barney’ CDs that we had as a child (my canon childhood event)? Well, if we treat our current movie selections the same way we did with the past, then the next generation will have the same canon childhood events—but with the movies, we’ve all had the pleasure of watching (and buying physical copies of).
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