The future of Disc packaging is nerfed

My copy of the third season of Westworld on 4K UHD arrived today- and its never been clearer how physical product of films and television shows on disc is becoming less and less of an interest to studios and distributors. Remember the glory days of any HBO series on disc? The ill-fated series Rome on Blu-ray actually came in ornate wooden boxes (so fancy they still take a pride of place on my shelf all these years later), the first few series of Game of Thrones came in fancy sets embellished with clear plastic slips with printed sections and embossed cases… over the years with each season those GOT sets became less fancy, but nowhere is the decline of disc packaging more obvious than with Westworld

The first season came in a fancy tin. The second season in a less-impressive, but still fairly quality, embossed slipcase with a sturdy digipack. The third season? A standard 4K Amaray case inside a very slightly laminated, suspiciously thin cardboard slipcase. Over in the States, fans are moaning about the packaging but at least their case seems to be lenticular and embossed, indicating some limited effort which is more than our cheapo edition (well, I say ‘cheapo’ but I note the price of the set hasn’t been reduced compared to earlier seasons when they came out). 

There was a time when physical product was something of a premium product, certainly compared to digital downloads, but I’m afraid some kind of parity is coming, although again I note that parity does not extend to the price. Oh well, sign of the times, I suppose, but all the same, poor show HBO/Warner.

Mind, I suppose I should just be thankful I get the series on a physical 4K set at all (we never got a 4K Watchmen series or 4K Chernobyl), so hey, I’m not going to complain too hard, for fear that season four when it eventually comes in a few years turns out to be digital-only, but I’ll just close my eyes a moment and remember the good old days of 2010 – 2015. Some may cast their memories further back than that, there have been some lovely imaginative examples of disc packaging over the years, especially during the DVD glory days, but I guess those days are long gone now. You just have to look at my three seasons of Westworld in my shelf. They actually look like they come from three entirely different tv shows. 

5 thoughts on “The future of Disc packaging is nerfed

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    That’s pretty common though. A lot of shoes started out with fancy packaging and features etc, but as time (and seasons) wore on and the shows themselves were less of a novelty then the packaging became more vanilla.
    That was the case back in DVD days.

    I feel your pain about digital-only. Latter seasons of Fargo and Silicon Valley would be sitting happily on my shelf were it not for that practice.

    There is a 4K release of Chernobyl due out in December in the states. As I write Amazon won’t ship it to the U.K., though some sellers on eBay are listing it. I have a friend in LA at the moment and he’s sending a copy over, which is lucky.

      1. I think I like ‘ a lot of shoes…’ spellchecker does come up with some wonders.

        Yeah I was really annoyed by Fargo too, it was bad enough having to wait for the season one and two Blu-rays to get reduced enough in the States for me to afford them (in the past I imported the complete series of Chuck on Blu-ray because, again, it was the only way to get it- the irony that I haven’t re-watched them yet on disc is not lost on me, but hey, its the principle). When you start collecting a series, its rather a waste when it becomes incomplete due to releases being halted. I really fear that will happen with Westworld at the slow rate they are making the show (and Covid won’t be helping that. either).After all, its bad now, but what’s the physical market going to be like in two years?

        We’ll think ourselves lucky to get Villeneuve’s Dune on 4K UHD and not straight to streaming, bypassing cinemas and disc completely, the way my luck is going. My 4K UHD of Dawn of the Dead also arrived today and pages fell out of its hardcover book as soon as I took it out the box. I’ve had one of those days (at least Second Sights customer service seems very good).

  2. matthew mckinnon

    Just FYI, Amazon are now shipping Chernobyl 4K from the US to the UK. In case you fancied getting yourself a slightly pricey Christmas present.

    1. Tempting, its such a good show, but bit steep really for something I’ve already seen- hopefully it’ll see a price drop or a belated release here too. Its such a frustrating thing all these different international rights. I gather the German series Babylon Berlin is pretty extraordinary, but its only released on DVD -DVD!- over here as it seems that Netflix (in the US) has blocked any HD release on disc with English-language subtitles, so, er, no Blu-ray (no idea if it would benefit from or warrant a 4K release).

      I don’t know if that purported Netflix deal is genuine, but it smacks of the kind of thing going on these days, so that essentially in America the only way folks could watch it in decent HD quality with English subs/dubs would be via Netflix (or in the rest of world via broadcast like Sky Atlantic here in the UK). Its only been released on Blu-ray in Germany and France with, er, German and French subs, respectively. I remember the good old days, you could get practically ANYTHING on disc from somewhere if you made the effort and was willing to pay for it.

      (Babylon Berlin is available to buy in HD on digital but I’m too stubborn/suspicious to relent on that front just yet. Maybe its time I went with the flow…)

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