10 Reasons I Still Buy Physical Media
The Comfort of Ownership
If you rely on Netflix or iTunes or another digital movie centre for your collection, it's not a tangible thing. It exists on a screen. And I feel a personal sense of satisfaction buying a tangible disc, in a case, with a lovingly designed cover. It's MINE. I don't trust the cloud, or streaming services. Movies will disappear from them. If I want to watch Commando and go to watch it on Netflix for the hundredth time only to find that it's gone, then my movie night is screwed up. I'd have to go and pirate the sucker just to fulfil my craving. Waste of time, and of course piracy is outright wrong.
There are also reports of people buying movies which have summarily disappeared from iTunes. Hell, I've personally seen movies on iTunes which have eventually been removed because of rights issues and such. How much would it suck to pay $10 to "own" a movie on iTunes, then your purchase disappears?
Added to this, hard drives do fail. I've lost an entire 1TB hard-drive full of movies. But DVD and Blu-ray discs, they're with you for life. Any time you can look over at your shelf and know it's YOURS on a shiny disc. If you maintain your discs and don't leave them knocking about outside the case, they will last for decades. A hard-drive fails after two or three years in my experience. Of course, they can last longer, but the bottom line is you don't know how long it'll be before it fails.
I love looking over my some 2000-unit collection which lives in my bedroom with me. Hell, sometimes I look at the breadth of my library in the middle of masturbating, just to marvel at the beauty of it.
It's All In One Place
I subscribe to Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and Stan, not to mention I use iTunes, Google Play and PlayStation Video to rent movies, and I liked going to video stores when they were actually open. Due to licensing, you can't have every movie you want online via just one streaming service (you won't get Netflix Originals and Disney+ Originals on one service). You need to subscribe to ALL of them, and, of course, they can still disappear from the services after some time, as previously mentioned. And through digital copy redemptions, my digital movie collection spans iTunes and Google Play. It's irritating to have to switch.
But with a library of physical media, everything you want is in one place. You paid a flat fee to own it, and now you have it. People may like the convenience of scrolling through a page of movies and picking one, but I like getting up from the couch, picking a movie from my library of awesome, and whacking it on. It requires effort, yeah, but getting up for a little bit is better for you than constantly sitting. And I feel a nice sense of satisfaction and arousal from removing a disc from its case.
And of course, you can show off your collection to anybody who will look.
Fancy Packaging & Collector's Items
Collecting physical media is a hobby. It's like collecting stamps. If somebody gets excited over some stamp from the 1950s, good for them. Wine lovers may get giddy over a bottle that's 40 years old and a limited edition. All the more power to them. Point is, everybody gets excited over something that they like collecting. For me, if someone says they have the fancy limited edition DVD set of The Fellowship of the Ring with the Argonath bookends, I will geek the fuck out.
I do not always like to grab the bells & whistles editions; it depends on what it is. If it's an exclusive slip-cover, I won't bother. If it's a nice limited edition steelbook case, yeah I'll bite. If it's a special limited edition case like the Man of Steel collector's edition, then yeah I'll definitely bite. The Hobbit movies are getting statues in their extended edition releases, and you can bet your sweet ass I'm grabbing those while they're still available. Hell, I still have a nifty Crystal Skull from the DVD set of that Indiana Jones film.
It adds flavour to your collection and your movie shelf. It's fun to show off your latest limited edition. Hell, I was one of a very limited few who got the 1966 Batman TV show set on BD with all the bells and whistles, and that's a huge point of pride. I was one of 1000 people to get the UK-released Titanic set, and I can't stop showing that to people. You don't get that excitement from a digital collection. I have never pulled my brother into my bedroom to look at my iTunes collection, for whatever reason.
Netflix and other streaming services offer basic compressed video presentations, but they aren't a patch on Blu-ray disc. Usually it's 1080p and basic lossy 5.1 audio on Netflix, as opposed to 7.1 or Atmos HD sound on a disc. A single second of a Blu-ray can be up to 20 or 30mb. That means your internet connection would need to be up to 30mb/s. Fuck, mine struggles to get to 5mb/s. And that's without factoring in the sound. Suffice it to say, a lossless HD soundtrack would require some extra oomph in internet speed.
As for downloaded movies, well, most movie files on Blu-ray are between 20 and 40GB, depending on the compression, the length, etc. Wouldn't be able to get many of those big cunts on your monthly data allowance. I'm happy if you have unlimited, trust me I am, but it's not a viable option for everybody. Also, only way to get files that big would be piracy, and it's a massive fuckaround to find the right file, let alone watch a bastard that big on your tele. I run a Mac, and can only transfer files up to 4GB to a hard-drive that can be accessible on my TV. You know what is simple? Buying a fucking disc and loading it into my PS4.
Another point on this issue... When movies are remastered, those remastered versions might not be streaming everywhere. If you've bought a movie on iTunes and it was remastered, iTunes might keep the original dated master. This is especially the case for when boutique labels bankroll exclusive new remasters. I've also seen different masters for the same movie on iTunes and Google Play. When you buy the remastered disc, you know you have the remastered version for life.
It's also worth pointing out that, by and large, Netflix only stream 4K HDR masters for their original programming. So a film can be available on 4K UHD Blu-ray, and was finished at 4K, but you'll have to settle for regular old compressed 1080p on Netflix.
Bonus features are a niche thing, I get that, but goodness they are fun. I'm a tremendous consumer of special features, and oftentimes I will hold off buying a certain release if I do not deem the extra content sufficient enough to warrant the price. I'm hesitant to buy a barebones release as I usually like to wait and see if a special edition comes out further down the track.
Getting invaluable insight into a production is exciting. The extensive documentaries and featurettes delving into the making of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth saga are incredible. And sometimes, the story behind the making of a motion picture can be almost as interesting as the movie itself. Watch the infamous Hearts of Darkness doc on the Apocalypse Now release for proof.
Even my parents, who aren't big film buffs, enjoy browsing through the special features content.
iTunes and even PlayStation have started offering special feature content when you buy a digital version, but it's still not a patch on discs.
I still love Netflix, but Christ it annoys me when I'm watching a great movie and a good part comes up, and the quality suddenly declines, or it starts and stops, skips frames, etc.
No such issues exist on a physical disc. The entire movie is there, on a disc, and there aren't any playback issues (unless you're an imbecile who leaves his discs around and lets them get scratched). It's wonderful.
Relying purely on an internet connection is another huge problem, because internet can drop out for a few minutes or a few hours. It can also go really slowly momentarily, making it impossible to stream movies. You don't need an internet connection to watch discs.
Nothing is more annoying than finding a show on Netflix, only to realise it's only streaming the first two seasons. Great, how am I supposed to see the others? And what about the handful of Christmas specials? Even torrents can be incomplete since they are not moderated, and you'd be left trying to download each episode individually. Fuck that.
So I go out and buy the complete collection. Every episode, every special, no confusion. Of course you will get separate seasons and occasionally separate volumes, but if you do your homework, you will often find a complete set with everything you need, plus extras. It's marvellous.
You Are Introduced To New Movies
I like going up and down the aisles at my local movie shop, and finding obscure titles I've never seen or even heard of before. Sifting through the specials, you may stumble upon a title that piques your interest, and you Google it on your smartphone and decide it's worth blind buying. It's that type of spontaneity that I love about physical media. Yeah, Netflix makes recommendations, but it ain't gonna have everything, and there are still those little hidden gems you'll never find unless you dig through the $5 bin at your local supermarket.
Likewise, if you find a title you want in a box-set with a few other movies you haven't seen, sometimes it's nice to take the plunge and take a chance on the other titles. I've purchased Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris and Van Damme sets, and never walked away disappointed. It's a nice way to be introduced to new movies. Oh yeah, and a lot of these little gems aren't even available on streaming services. DVD and Blu-ray all the way!
Easier To Watch
People seem to favour an iTunes or Ultraviolet digital copy because it can be watched "anywhere," but I call bullshit on this one. Anywhere except...your television. Unless you have Apple TV or a Chromecast dongle, you ain't watching your digital copies on any TV. I can't watch my Apple purchases on my LG Smart TVs unless I have an Apple TV. Some services like Binge and Shudder don't have apps on LG TVs. It's all such a big fuckaround, and an unnecessary expense. And though you might have a movie on your hard drive, I can't tell you how many times I've gone to watch a file only to get "Audio Format not supported" or "This video cannot be played." You know what? You get none of that with a good ol' DVD or Blu-ray.
More pertinently, if you want to swing by a mate's house and watch a movie with them, or with a bunch of people, it's super easy to bring a disc over. You know what's a mad fuckaround? Bringing a Chromecast dongle or your Apple TV to your mate's place and spending ages getting it set up. Or putting your hard drive in only to get an error.
Also, if you wanted to use Netflix or the like, and your mate doesn't have Netflix or a smart TV that has the app, you'll be dragging your console over and setting that shit up. Or using your Chromecast dongle. Unnecessary!
Also, you know what's cool? Being able to lend a movie to a mate. None of this "You gotta download this movie!", instead it's "Here, take my DVD!" Less hassle. Easier.
This is perhaps the most pertinent issue as we move forward and away from physical media: companies can control your digital content. Even if you buy movies and TV shows on digital providers, that sense of ownership is a complete fallacy as you're essentially paying for an extended lease that can be altered at any time without notice. I've mentioned before that movies can disappear at the drop of a hat, but movies and shows can also be altered and censored. One example is an episode of The Simpsons being pulled from circulation; it is no longer available on iTunes or Disney+. Even if you've purchased the complete season, or, hell, if you purchased the episode separately, it's now gone - deleted from the cloud forever. The only way to watch this episode is on your old DVD sets.
There are other examples, like Splash - when it debuted on Disney+, the movie was digitally altered to cover a bare bum. There's talk of Disney removing scenes from their animated movies that might be too problematic, such as the "racist crows" in Dumbo. Hell, the versions of Star Wars on Disney+ are the most recent altered versions; you need to hang onto your VHS, Laserdisc or DVD copies of the original unaltered versions to keep those. The point is, going forward, scenes from movies might be deleted from the cloud forever, and you can bet that more TV episodes will be removed. Things can be digitally altered to cover nudity. I mean, a crew-member was briefly visible in an episode of The Mandalorian, and within a couple of days of the episode dropping, the person was digitally removed and the new master was streaming on Disney+. I know this is an example of fixing something for the better, but see how easy it is to change media and replace it forever?
This is a big reason why I cherish my discs. Studios ain't gonna grab it from my hands and change it on me.
Here we go!
Suggestions very welcome.