Allow me to gripe a little. The Star Wars films -the ‘proper’ Star Wars films- are coming out on 4K UHD at long last. Usually these films finally hitting a format is something major, something to get excited about, but Disney don’t appear to be too excited. To be honest, I’m finding it hard to get too excited myself, either, because having brought the films on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray in the past, this time around I’d really just like to buy my favourite ones: Rogue One, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and maybe get around to Return of the Jedi if the price was right or lowered in a subsequent sale. But I can’t. Its a box of the ‘Skywalker Saga’, episodes 1 through 9, from Amazon only, or its nothing, and certainly no Rogue One in 4K at all. That’s where we are at here in the UK.
I still cannot get my around the fact that here in the UK, on release day, nobody can walk into a shop and buy those 4K films, even if only in that box. Who could have dreamed that 4K releases of the Star Wars films will have never happened in regular bricks and mortar retail? Maybe physical releases have slipped into obscurity so far already that the fine folks at the remaining HMV stores won’t be too concerned that they cannot make money from selling them. In the old days a major release like this being restricted to Online only would seem crazy, but I guess the times they are a changin’.
The simplest conclusion of course is that Disney isn’t particularly interested, and if that’s what you’re thinking, then I think you’d be right: Disney+ seems to be whats really exciting the mouse these days. Disc releases are so much yesterdays news. Streaming, and subscriptions, seem to be where its at and physical media seems inconvenient at best, possibly on borrowed time at worst. When you can afford to ignore bricks and mortar retail, its clear that streaming is the future you’re really interested in.
I expect the single-disc releases (and a belated Rogue One 4K release) will happen eventually, a few months or so down the line – maybe Amazon’s deal is a six-month exclusive and everything will follow after. The individual films are available in other territories after all, but I’m reminded that there are several Pixar films on 4K that remain unreleased here in the UK (including my favourite, Ratatouille) and there seems no sign they are ever coming. On the evidence of some forums some fans are going the import route but that can be expensive (and putting up with foreign-language packaging seems a nonsensical argument for maintaining with physical media to me). Me, I guess I’ll be voting with my wallet and saving my money.
And no, Disney, I won’t ponying up my dosh for Disney+ anytime soon either.