On Wednesday, Twitter found itself in a panic over the upcoming departure of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse from Netflix. On Christmas Day, the animated Marvel movie, which has been on the streaming service since June 2019, will swing away back to whatever new home Sony Pictures has found for the license. Hulu? Amazon Prime? Heck, maybe the movie winds up on Crunchyroll, newly acquired by Sony earlier this month. In the streaming cosmos, titles appear, disappear, and bounce back and forth at an unpredictable clip. The variables have prompted a collective urging for fans and newbies alike to watch the movie one more time before it vanishes.
But there’s another way for people who fell in love with Miles Morales and the gorgeous, syncopated animation style of Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman’s animated film: Blu-ray. Physical media. 4K or other. The hard stuff.
Currently, those scorned by the streaming license game can pick up a 4K UHD copy of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for around $13. The movie is available for $9.99 on platforms like iTunes, Amazon Video, and Vudu, but remember: Even if someone “buys” a copy of a movie from a digital retailer, they don’t really own it. They own the license to own it, and if a content provider ends its deal with Apple or Amazon, the movie can disappear from a user’s library. In the digital age, a Blu-ray is still the only real way to own a movie in perpetuity.
Over the last decade, corporate streaming culture went full Marie Kondo on our asses. Viewers were implicitly encouraged to get rid of their giant, 28-disc O.C. complete series box set because now it was all there, at the click of a button. Smart TVs and streaming sticks replaced physical media players, and it grew old-fashioned to own one. But as studio deals splintered and more and more streaming services emerged, the “instant” viewing experience became akin to a strip mall packed with 12 Blockbuster Videos. Hopefully the first one has what you’re looking for, or you might spend all night scrolling (if it’s there at all).
But to use the Kondo philosophy in defense of accumulating media: If Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse brings a person joy, then it makes sense to own Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And there’s never been a better time to get back into physical media, with the advent of 4K resolution in both televisions and Blu-rays, as well as surround sound formats that rival the theatrical experience. Cost is a factor, but two things to consider: Along with terraforming the viewing landscape, Netflix has an aura of being “free,” simply because so many people now subscribe and the idea of signing up for a different service — say, NBC’s Peacock in order to watch The Office — feels egregious. But it’s not free, and if it doesn’t have what you want on it, not paying for it is an option.
And after the new wave of consoles, more people than ever will be ready for the 4K Blu-ray era. Anyone who just picked up a disc-ready PS5 or Xbox Series X is in a position to get back into physical media. Both consoles come equipped with 4K Blu-ray players, and more of the modern classics are being remastered for the format. (If Peter Jackson can’t sell you on it with 4K Lord of the Rings talk, I don’t know who can.) If that all sounds expensive, note that you can get a regular Blu-ray player for $50 these days.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic movie. Anyone worried about it leaving Netflix should consider if Netflix is right for them. In 2021, invest in things that make you happy.
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