UPDATE: Some of these prices have altered some time after this was recently published.
Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you know me personally, you would know my preferred way of watching movies at home is through physical media. I have bought and received an excessive amount of DVDs, Blu-rays, 4Ks, Steelbooks, and other forms of physical media over the years. For those who ask, I do stream. But physical media has various pros that make me gravitate towards it before turning on Prime Video or HBO Max for instance. Pros like bonus features, not needing an Internet connection, and the idea that when you buy a movie physically, you have the opportunity to own it forever. I love physical media, but having looked around stores like Target and Best Buy in recent years, it is evident that to some degree, it is not as relevant or popular as it once was. Heck, one store I have frequented for physical media over the years, specifically New England-based chain Newbury Comics, has withered the DVD and Blu-ray sections at most of their stores. On a somewhat consistent basis, I feel like a caveman. I feel as if in one moment or the next, I will see physical media’s demise. This week has cemented why I feel this way. Case and point, my recent experience at Best Buy.
I go to Best Buy every Tuesday, as they have been a primary source for my physical media collection. They have all the newest titles, collectors’ editions, and the employees are typically friendly. I will not lie when I say they have turned me off recently because they downgraded the myBestBuy rewards program. I once had a 45-day return policy, which has now downgraded to 15. I used to be able to buy anything online with free shipping, now they have a $35 minimum. Plus, racking points and $5 rewards has become more challenging because my loyalty from buying various products allowed me to earn points quicker. This was a turn off, and I said to myself I will stop shopping at Best Buy. I did not, however. They still had decent inventory, a nice atmosphere, and reasonable prices. Keep that last one in mind.
It is Tuesday, January 31st, 2023. I visit the Best Buy 10 minutes from my house, and I get excited for what is to come. But I did hear through various videos on YouTube that Best Buy has been increasing their prices. I went in with the thought in the back of my mind, but I also acknowledged that this could just be a tiny uptick on select items. While not every item in the store had their price jacked up like there’s no tomorrow, quite a few were. In fact, some prices, are ludicrous. One example is the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for “Amsterdam,” a terrible movie on its own. I would not even pay a few dollars to watch it a second time, much less what Best Buy actually charged me. How much are we talking? $39.99. For the record, when the film came out physically, this copy cost $33.99 at Best Buy, the price you can get it for on Amazon right now.
When I saw this price, I knew something was off. If you ever go into the DVD section of Barnes and Noble, that is if the store has one, this is practically what they would charge. Another interesting charge comes from “Halloween Ends,” another movie I had no intention of buying because I was not a fan of it. But the prices for its copies went up too. Well, mostly. If you want to buy the standard Blu-ray (center), you have to pay $34.99. Standard Blu-rays at Best Buy are normally $24.99 max. Not enough? Let me remind you that the 4K Blu-ray (right) happens to be $44.99. This was not even the Steelbook, which by definition, is a collector’s item! In fact, the Steelbook (left) for “Halloween Ends,” actually costs less than both the standard Blu-ray and 4K! If you really want the collector’s packaging, get it now for $32.99 before you are left with the ripoff prices mentioned earlier.
Now if you are an avid collector like me, you might be thinking, it cannot get much worse than $44.99, right? I wish I could say you happen to be right. But Best Buy shows why cannot have nice things.
One of the better movies of the past year, “Bullet Train,” in addition to some other Sony titles, also had a price increase. While the Blu-ray is at a barely passable, but still odd price of $26.99, the same cannot be said for the 4K, which is a whopping $45.99. At Target, the same 4K edition of this movie costs $29.99. Therefore, if you buy three 4K copies of “Bullet Train” at Target, you will end up spending a couple bucks less than if you bought two copies of the same movie at Best Buy. I am not a financial expert, but consider this some basic money management skills. If that is not enough, did I mention “Uncharted” is $45.99 too? Maybe that is not enough either, because the Steelbook edition of the film is $55.99. What makes it that price? The ring that comes with it? What else justifies it? Does Tom Holland fly out of the television while I watch the movie and exchange hi-fives? Depending on where I live and what format I choose, I probably could have gone to see this movie in the theater four times for less money. And yes, if you look at the Steelbook’s history, which is fascinating to say the least, $55.99 is not the most expensive it has been in its cycle. But it is ridiculous nevertheless.
And it looks like Best Buy has no plan in sight to stop this. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which releases on home video this month, has two Steelbooks coming out, $38.99 apiece. Other new release titles coming soon like “Strange World” and “Babylon” have Steelbooks coming out priced at $39.99. I do not care about the quality of those movies. If I preordered both of them right now, I would be wasting over $80 after taxes! I am not going to pretend that buying physical media is the cheapest thing in the world, but I would say there is a threshold when it comes to this.
Although in the case of Best Buy, it seems as if they do not care. For one thing, if customers spend $45.99 on “Bullet Train,” that is extra money in the company’s pocket. That is how the world works. The other thing that seems to be going on here is that a lot of these movies are being advertised with sale prices for Totaltech members. What is Totaltech? Basically, it is a $199.99/year membership that gives you access to a ton of perks within the Best Buy brand. The last thing I need is another subscription, so I do not have this myself. But regardless, if you look at some of the physical media prices, and you think they are obscene, you may also notice a less obscene option for those equipped with Totaltech. After being ripped off with myBestBuy, I cannot see myself being a part of Totaltech anytime soon. But as you can see in the “Bullet Train” example, there is a different price for which you can buy this 4K copy if you are a Totaltech member. If you are a member, you have the perk of saving $19.00, subtracting to a total of $26.99. Therefore, it would be slightly less than what Target is offering for the same copy as of the time of this post being published.
This might also be Best Buy waving the white flag, and they could looking for any excuse they can to stop selling DVDs and Blu-rays. While they still sell vinyl, there are not many Best Buy stores that sell CDs, and some have already gotten rid of their DVD and Blu-ray inventory. I have been to a couple Best Buy stores that have done this, but they still have video games, therefore the store is not done with physical media altogether. But recent years have shown the company has taken steps to reduce its presence in stores.
Question is, how do you navigate with this as a consumer? Well the good news is, Best Buy is not the only player in town for physical media. Target, Walmart, Amazon, among several other stores, supply physical media, normally at more reasonable prices. If I were you in this case, I would start going to Best Buy less and supporting these stores more. If you are not a fan of big box stores, I highly recommend stores like Bull Moose. If you live in New England, they have locations in New Hampshire and Maine, but they also have a website and they sell everything from VHS to 4K Blu-ray. Check these stores out and give them your support. There is no reason why “Black Adam,” whose 4K Blu-ray copy would normally cost $29.96 at Walmart, should have a max price of $49.99 at Best Buy. Make it make sense. That said, Best Buy does price match, so if you somehow decide to pick something up at Best Buy, ask for price match at checkout and show a competitor’s price, they might follow through with it. There is a saying that consumers speak with their wallet, and the fewer times people spend money at Best Buy, the more likely they might have to make an excuse to bring those customers back. How can they be brought back? Cheaper prices, I would imagine.
But if anyone at Best Buy is reading this, please take this into consideration and shrink the prices for physical media back down. The market for physical media has become increasingly niche and actions like this will make it more so. Therefore, I beg, live up to your name, and give us the best buy. If nothing good is to come from here on out, it is Best Bye Bye from me.
Thanks for reading this post! I also want to take a moment to make an announcement! The Jack Awards are coming to Scene Before on March 5th! That’s right, Scene Before’s annual movie awards show is back with a brand new name. It is no longer the Jackoff Awards, which is a name chosen because it won a Twitter poll. And as everyone knows, Twitter polls, like coin flipping, happens to be how the most scientific and true decisions are made. But I have decided, for this fifth ceremony, we are going in a different direction. It is the same show, but with, in my opinion, a less crappy name. The nominations will be announced Sunday, February 19th, a couple weeks from now. And the show will be held on Sunday, March 5th, only on Flicknerd.com. Stay tuned. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, what do you think about this Best Buy physical media situation? Do you care? Also, do you even buy physical media? If so, what do you buy? How often do you buy? And how big is your collection? I know I am probably in a minority as a 23-year-old who still buys Blu-rays these days, but I choose to live with it. Physical media, to me is better than streaming, and should there ever be a day it dies, I will probably be a sad man. Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!