Is Physical Media Getting Too Expensive?

The high price of physical media is starting to make the entry point into collecting even more difficult for those wanting to leave streaming.

physical media expensive

Physical media has had a rough go of it in 2024. Best Buy completely exiled their supply of DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s to the point that you can’t even buy them online. Target has followed suit with a severely diminished section. Thankfully, Walmart has picked up the slack and even purchased Best Buy’s supply, meaning any of those sweet Steelbooks that Best Buy offered can now be purchased at Walmart. But anyone that’s been in Wally World knows that they take their security very seriously, sometimes at the detriment of collectors. So now one of the last places to buy physical media often has shelves full of dented and bent boxes. Amazon isn’t much better if you’re wanting to go that route. And that’s not even addressing the pricing issue.

I need to make it very clear that I absolutely love boutique labels like Scream Factory, Arrow Video, Vestron Video, and more. They provide wonderful releases that I never in a million years thought we’d actually receive. Hell, I’ve got a copy of The Guyver showing up on 4K in just a few short weeks. I never would have imagined that would happen. And it makes sense to pay a premium for a film that I never thought would actually be released on the platform. But not every film fits these parameters.

The cost of streaming is often a subject of debate because these streaming sites like to increase their prices multiple times a year at this point. And with their crackdown on password sharing, it’s making streaming less appealing than ever. Yet making the switch to Physical is damn near impossible for some people. Let’s just look at 4K Ultra HD Blu Ray players which run, at their cheapest, a whopping $200. Thankfully, modern gaming consoles feature 4K players, but even those run at least $400. Still, there are a lot of gamers out there, so let’s just posit for a moment that a player as an entry point isn’t the end all, be all. But what about the price of an individual movie?

physical media

I remember fondly back when movies were released with a base price of $19.99. The first week of sales would often give a few dollars off, so you could usually walk off with a brand-new movie for around $15. Nowadays, I can’t walk off with a brand new Blu-Ray for under $25 the week of release. Make it 4K and push that number up to $30. And happen to miss the opening week price? Well, add another $5 or $10 to the total. Then those sweet Scream Factory releases? $35 at minimum. Sure, there are some exceptions to the rule, and it is a bit more understandable that independent companies such as them would put out more expensive discs. But, on average, we’re paying nearly $10 more than we were just ten years ago on discs.

Even bargain bins have gotten to be so much more niche. The Walmart bargain bin is relegated to mostly simple 480p DVDs versus the days of countless $5 Blu-rays. How else are people supposed to easily access Captain Ron and The Addams Family? As collecting physical media becomes more and more niche and geared towards collectors, companies start to get greedy all in the name of the almighty dollar. Since the general public is no longer buying, they’re instead releasing for collectors. So now a small market is expected to prop up an entire industry. We’re getting the same re-releases we would have gotten years ago, yet now at a premium. Just look at the recently announced Drive 4K Steelbook whose price tag is a whopping $35.

So what can be done about this? Really, we just need to be speaking with our wallets. We can’t allow Physical Media collecting to become what so many others have: a collector’s nightmare. Just look at the sweet Crow Steelbook that released a month ago which almost immediately went out of stock when it went up for pre-order and flooded eBay at absurd prices. They released far fewer copies than they should have and, rather than printing more, decided to increase their value through resellers. (To note, The Crow‘s disc is being put out by Paramount Pictures. Drive‘s by Sony Pictures. Neither has a ton of extras, like you’d find on a label like Arrow Video or Scream Factory. So what’s going on here?) Any shoe collector will tell you how terrible this practice is and we don’t need it in physical media. So make sure to identify companies that are doing it, and avoid them in the future. Teach them a lesson and vote with your wallet.

Now I want to hear from you guys. Do you still collect physical media? What is the most ridiculous price you’ve paid for a movie you wanted? What’s your favorite boutique media seller? Do you think physical media is just too expensive? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

220 Articles Published

Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.