Warner and Universal to Merge Domestic Disc Business

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Breaking news from our friends at Media Play News

https://www.mediaplaynews.com/universal-warner-bros-to-merge-domestic-disc-business/

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Ronald Epstein

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43 Comments

  1. This is a genuine question, not me trying to be snarky: How will this really affect us from a consumer standpoint?

    As long as I can buy WB and Universal titles, I don't really care what studio distributes it. A few years ago, WB briefly distributed some Paramount catalog titles, so I have a few Paramount titles with a "Distributed by Warner Bros." sticker on the back. But it's the same disc as I would have gotten if distributed by Paramount, so why does it matter?

    The only thing that seems to raise a red flag is that if representatives from either studio would get involved in a pissing match with Amazon, like Disney is and Warner previously has been, then it sounds like product from both studios would be affected.

  2. Jake Lipson

    The only thing that seems to raise a red flag is that if representatives from either studio would get involved in a pissing match with Amazon, like Disney is and Warner previously has been, then it sounds like product from both studios would be affected.

    This!!!

    I strongly suspect this corporate arrangement is entirely to get some leverage with giants like amazon and walmart.

  3. Nobody sells units like Disney does so a merger of two other studios is unlikely to get any better leverage with Amazon and Wal-Mart.

    I think the real truth is that physical media is declining at an alarming rate and the two studios, seeing a downward trend that will not reverse, can no longer justify the infrastructure to keep the businesses alive much longer on the scale they currently operate. They are future-proofing.

    If a history of physical media is ever written, I'm sure that the single greatest blow to the business by far will prove to be the introduction of Disney +.

  4. If they Warner/Universal can't get any better leverage, then at least they can maintain whatever existing leverage they already have currently.

    They probably already know that their leverage has nowhere to go but down in the future. So the hope is that it is a "soft landing" and not a sudden crash.

  5. If the release rate (especially WAC) continues at the same pace, I’m ok.

    Where this is likely to hurt is with boutique labels (especially Kino). Warner has been reluctant to license to others, and if Universal back catalog is no longer licensed, I would not like that. Or if WAC’s only ‘perfect’ releases now extended to Universal, that would also be not welcome.

    On the other hand, Universal has been open about licensing, so if some of the less-than-perfect Warner’s titles ended up somewhere else, that would be a plus.

    A lot will depend on whose policies take precedence.

  6. Billy Batson

    I suppose it makes good business sense. I dunno, but I'd think it would be new movies, as Universal seem to license out nearly all their catalogue releases these days.

    I wish they would license out even more of their titles. There are still plenty of titles, including all those older Paramount ones they own.

  7. timk1041

    I wish they would license out even more of their titles. There are still plenty of titles, including all those older Paramount ones they own.

    Oh yes, there's always more, but between Kino, Koch (Germany) & Elephant Films (France) & a few other companies, they haven't done bad.

  8. Rob W

    Nobody sells units like Disney does so a merger of two other studios is unlikely to get any better leverage with Amazon and Wal-Mart.

    If a history of physical media is ever written, I'm sure that the single greatest blow to the business by far will prove to be the introduction of Disney +.

    I might second this statement at least as far as Disney titles are concerned. While I still have my DMC membership, I’m limiting my Disney Blu-ray purchases nowadays only to titles I really really want my own copy of.
    ( Or if some indie boutique House gets a hold of rights to SOTS and puts a well done Blu-ray on the market).

    UHD Blu-ray titles are another matter as I may upgrade favorites ( Star Wars franchise for example, The Incredibles, etc) to UHD Blu-ray as my budget permits.

  9. David Weicker

    If the release rate (especially WAC) continues at the same pace, I’m ok.

    Where this is likely to hurt is with boutique labels (especially Kino). Warner has been reluctant to license to others, and if Universal back catalog is no longer licensed, I would not like that. Or if WAC’s only ‘perfect’ releases now extended to Universal, that would also be not welcome.

    On the other hand, Universal has been open about licensing, so if some of the less-than-perfect Warner’s titles ended up somewhere else, that would be a plus.

    A lot will depend on whose policies take precedence.

    Today, Kino announced a new disc deal with Universal involving 200 movie titles.

  10. Robert Crawford

    Today, Kino announced a new disc deal with Universal involving 200 movie titles.

    That's GREAT news. Maybe, if luck has it, they'll cut a disc deal with WB, too, in tandem with this merger. Kino has been fabulous with releasing titles for various and sundry tastes, unlike WB Archives. This may herald BDs of titles like Scaramouche, Land of the Pharaohs, Raintree County, Blackboard Jungle and many more. Keeping fingers crossed!

  11. I see this and hope for WB/Universal Home Entertainment to start some sort of combined rewards program. I don't know how many movies I buy from either studio separately, but I'm sure that the two of them together would give me enough purchases to net some decent rewards.

  12. How many different threads do we need to have the same "disc vs digital" discussion in? If I'm frustrated reading this same subject matter in different threads, I do wonder how many other people are tired of it too?

    Okay, I moved several posts to a thread discussing "disc vs digital" issues. Here is the Link. Let's stay on topic in this thread discussing Universal/Warner merging their domestic disc business. Thank you.

  13. Here is another article discussing this disc production merger between the two studios. The following excerpt is probably the reason for this merger.

    The moves come amid the long, slow decline of physical disc sales — which show no signs of reversing — and the ascendancy of streaming video. Sales of DVDs in the U.S. fell 9.4% in 2019, to $5.9 billion, down from about $9 billion in the U.S. in 2011, according to trade group DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

  14. In the laserdisc days it was pretty much just Pioneer and Image doing the distribution, and promoting the format in general. Prices were a bit insane, but other than that I wouldn't mind a return to that if it was an acknowledgement that the people buying their stuff were the ones who cared about quality.

    There's a perfectly practical reason for lower sales overall though- some of us are out of shelf space!

  15. Jesse Skeen

    There's a perfectly practical reason for lower sales overall though- some of us are out of shelf space!

    Yup, that's certainly the case with me. I live in a small house & there's discs all over the place (& a ridiculous amount of unwatched TV box sets), so a New Years resolution was, buy only must-have titles, & there's a few hundred of those. So any company wanting my money, easy, just release something I want.

  16. Jesse Skeen

    In the laserdisc days it was pretty much just Pioneer and Image doing the distribution, and promoting the format in general. Prices were a bit insane, but other than that I wouldn't mind a return to that if it was an acknowledgement that the people buying their stuff were the ones who cared about quality.

    It turns out there's only really one giant cd/dvd/bluray discs manufacturer left in north america: Thomson/Technicolor plant in Guadalajara, Mexico.

    Currently Disney, Universal, Warner, Paramount, Sony and other smaller movie companies (such as Cinedigm, etc …) all manufacture their dvds and blurays at this giant Mexico plant. Every disc manufactured at this Thomson/Technicolor plant will have an ifpi code KK** (where ** are alphanumeric wildcards) stamped in the first transparent plastic ring away from the center of the disc.

    Though the issue of whether they actually "care about quality" is questionable in regard to disc quality control.

  17. Currently I have no idea where Fox's dvds/blurays are manufactured.

    For many years previously, Fox and Lionsgate had their dvds/blurays manufactured at Thomson/Technicolor's plant in Huntsville, Alabama. Discs manufactured in this Huntsville planet will have an ifpi code 2F** (where ** are alphanumeric wildcards) stamped in the first transparent plastic ring away from the center of the disc.

    (I don't currently own any Fox dvd/bluray titles which were released after the Disney/Fox merger).

  18. Lord Dalek

    Doesn't this just mean they're merging their disc plants?

    No.

    Once a dvd/bluray disc manufacturing plant is closed, just about all the old equipment is liquidated by being auctioned off.

  19. If you have any cd/dvd/bluray discs with ifpi code 2U** (where ** are alphanumeric wildcards) stamped in the first transparent plastic ring away from the center of the disc, it was manufactured at this former Technicolor/Cinram/WEA disc manufacturing plant in Olyphant, PA.

    For example, such as many Warner released dvds/blurays/hddvds manufactured before 2010.

  20. jcroy

    Technicolor/Cinram/WEA disc manufacturing plant in Olyphant, PA.

    For example, such as many Warner released dvds/blurays/hddvds manufactured before 2010.

    Many of which are now unplayable due to rot.

    Image never manufactured discs, they licensed and distributed titles. The discs were manufactured by a number of companies in both the US and Japan.

  21. Jesse Skeen

    Image never manufactured discs, they licensed and distributed titles. The discs were manufactured by a number of companies in both the US and Japan.

    IIRC back in the day, one big laserdisc manufacturing plant was Sony DADC in Terre Haute, Indiana.

    https://forum.lddb.com/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=5980

    That Terre Haute plant was Sony's primary facility for manufacturing their cds/dvds/blurays/4Kblurays and PS2/PS3/PS4 discs in america, until 2018 when it was closed down for everything but PS4 discs.

    https://fox59.com/2018/01/17/sony-disc-plant-in-terre-haute-laying-off-around-380-workers/

    Since mid-2018, this is why Sony's dvds and blurays have been manufactured at Thomson/Technicolor's facility in Mexico ever since.

  22. Jesse Skeen

    Image never manufactured discs, they licensed and distributed titles. The discs were manufactured by a number of companies in both the US and Japan.

    The most notorious was Technodisc, which Warner used quite frequently.

  23. Oh my, I remember how many laserdiscs from that Terre Haute plant got laser rot. Not a pretty sight.

    Reed Grele

    Saw a video on YouTube about this. If this means that Universal and WB will be able to join forces to cut replication costs, I'm hopeful that physical media will still be around for at least another 10 years.

    If they're cutting replication costs, then they're also cutting excuses not to release certain titles.

  24. MatthewA

    If they're cutting replication costs, then they're also cutting excuses not to release certain titles.

    Are they? I'd guess that they're cutting costs because they're seeing their profits slowly shrinking on physical media (especially catalog titles). Cutting costs will allow them to do just what they've been doing for a while longer.

  25. In the end, lowering fees (or zero fees once all the patents expire) will probably do nothing significant when it comes to consumer level.

    That el-cheapo $20 generic Sony dvd player manufactured in China, will probably still be a $20 dvd player. Both before and after complete patent expiration.

  26. Do you really believe the manufacturers are going pass on those "savings" to the consumer? 🙂

    (Either in terms of super el cheapo hardware, and/or a higher volume of $5 movie titles released).

  27. Billy Batson

    Yup, that's certainly the case with me. I live in a small house & there's discs all over the place (& a ridiculous amount of unwatched TV box sets), so a New Years resolution was, buy only must-have titles, & there's a few hundred of those. So any company wanting my money, easy, just release something I want.

    Sounds just like me!

  28. Just some off questions:

    Does anyone know what is/was the most frequently unreleased animated series that is under the auspices of Universal? Casper?

    Maybe this will enable a release of Universal’s What’s So Bad About Feeling Good? and the Perils of Pauline (Pat Boone version)?

    –James

  29. I believe that with this weeks Kino announcement of 200+ title deal with Universal and the continuing releases from Warner Archive, this announcement has more to do with new release titles that would be handled by Warner Home Video and Universal Home Video than catalog titles.

  30. ahollis

    I believe that with this weeks Kino announcement of 200+ title deal with Universal and the continuing releases from Warner Archive, this announcement has more to do with new release titles that would be handled by Warner Home Video and Universal Home Video than catalog titles.

    Yes. And Warner Archive is a separate division of Warner Home Video.

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