Those who enjoy physical media may be suffering quite the blow next year. According to animation historian Jerry Beck, Warner Bros. will begin to phase out DVD and Blu-ray releases beginning in 2022. This means that future movies and TV shows will likely not be released physically, with the focus shifting to streaming. Specifically, HBO Max.
The news began circulating on Twitter recently. While Jerry Beck hasn't tweeted from his personal account in some time, some screenshots from what appear to be a Facebook group recently made the rounds. In the screencaps, Beck says that Warner Bros. has no plans to commemorate some landmark anniversaries in the world of animation next year. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
"As of now, there are no plans to commemorate Daffy or Tweety's anniversaries next year, or ever. The company is slowly transitioning away from physical media. There are no plans for any classic cartoons on DVD or Blu-ray that I know of (except for one project we are in the middle of which may come out later this year...or not). Anything is possible...we'll just have to wait and see."
Jerry Beck is not directly associated with Warner Bros. but is considered to be a trusted insider in this area. He is a legitimate historian and has quite a bit of credibility. So, while this isn't coming directly from the horse's mouth, it is certainly worth paying attention to. Speaking further, he elaborated, saying the following.
"It includes both Warner Archive and regular Warner Home Video. You'll still see some new releases from both during the rest of 2021, but those were planned out last year. Next year (2022) is when this year's changes will be felt. Yes, the Tex Avery sets sold well enough for the low overhead Archive Collection division. But in the big picture, it's peanuts...and the focus over there is now on streaming (HBO Max)."
It is worth noting that Jerry Beck specializes in animation and he could be speaking, more specifically, about that arena. In any case, the shift away from physical media with attention turned toward streaming makes sense. As much as many movie buffs still love Blu-rays, the market has been shrinking for years. It's a niche market, relatively speaking. Streaming, meanwhile, is viewed as the future of entertainment and represents possible billions in reliable, monthly revenue.
This is also important as companies like Apple and Amazon are currently facing lawsuits in regards to digital movie and TV purchases. These purchases aren't so much owned as they are rented for as long as the company decides to carry these titles on platforms like iTunes. With that in mind, Blu-rays, and more recently 4K Ultra HD releases, carry a lot of value for those who want to ensure they can watch certain movies indefinitely. Granted, this would, at worst, just be Warner Bros. But it would be easy to see Disney and other studios follow suit in order to double down on streaming. You can check out the screenshots, as shared by the peng Twitter account, for yourself.