As the holidays wind down and we move into the New Year, many moviegoers participating in the physical media collection likely find themselves with a handful of Blu-rays to unwrap. For fans of the multimedia format, it has been interesting to watch the industry evolve over time, while retaining many of the pillars of previous generations of electronics. A lot of people will obviously be happy with their home country releases, but many make it a point to seek out and receive the best possible edition of a movie. Because of the way film rights are managed, collectors often find themselves having to scour the Internet for a copy of a film they might enjoy, to find it unheard of in their territory. That leaves you with a somewhat frustrating realization, but also with a solution that opens you up to a vast world of physical media sizes: the regionless Blu-ray player.
If you have been collecting physical media formats for a long time, chances are good that you are quite familiar with how regions work and how they are generally distributed among different regions of the world. For example, when it comes to Blu-ray, there are 3 regions: A, B and C. Big hits for Blu-ray are mostly in regions A and B. Region A is home to North America and the South, as well as Japan. and a few other areas. Then there’s Region B, which includes Europe and Australia, as well as a handful of other territories. Where you buy your Blu-ray player will be where your default region is set. However, there are certain mods and players that you can buy from retailers that open up possibilities for your viewing habits, and these regionless Blu-ray players will allow easy access to all discs in the world.
Film rights often become incredibly difficult to decipher, especially if they land outside the big studios that operate internationally as well as nationally. When that happens, it leaves unreleased films for years in some countries. A single example of this is Andrea arnoldthe first feature film of red route, which was released in the UK and still only has this version which was released on the format in 2010. Many other directors, such as Sion Sono from Japan, have English releases for a number of its films only in the UK and nowhere else thanks to the continued work of Third Window Films. These include movies like The whispering star, Cold fish, and Antiporno.
It is this fact, along with the near extinction of video stores, that has left huge portions of movies largely absent from streaming services. This is doubly true if you want to find the works of more specialized directors and worse if they come from a country that is not English speaking. Having a region-less Blu-ray player is one of the few legal avenues that moviegoers can take to support foreign filmmakers. That’s not to say that the status quo of regional practices has remained the same, however.
Things have started to change for the better, as 4K Blu-rays – which many people believe may be the last physical media format for movies – are almost entirely regionless. Apart from a few selected titles, if you buy a 4K version from anywhere in the world, 99% of the time it will be region-free. There’s also the fact that many of these boutique Blu-ray labels make a point of keeping their releases region-free whenever possible, and they almost always only lock their content when the rights holder of the film in. makes the requirement.
Last year, Second Sight Films released their excellent edition of George A. Romero‘s Dawn of the dead in 4K and Blu-ray. In this case, you saw the Blu-ray region locked to Territory B, while the 4K version was regionless, allowing moviegoers around the world to grab the output without a hitch.
There’s also the continuing case that many moviegoers face where some versions that come out in their home territory just aren’t that good. This can be due to a number of technical flaws which are out of the publisher’s hands or not, such as having to use old masters provided to them by the studio or their own bad encoding. There is also the other main reason for owning movies: bonuses. Most of the time you will have companies like Indicator in the UK going out of their way to pack their releases with special features, and you will only be able to find them on their version of the film. On top of all that, there’s also the fact that you might not like the packaging of a certain version in your home territory.
As video stores have all but disappeared before our eyes, it often becomes increasingly difficult for moviegoers to find specific titles. It becomes even more evident as more streaming services began to emerge after companies began to see the viability they were offering. Even if one still has the Netflix DVD plan – the one that many people forget still exists – chances are that if they have an obscure title on the service, you will have to wait months for it to even be. available. You would be lucky to find a Blu-ray copy of said film on the service even if it was available.
This is why regionless Blu-ray players are becoming increasingly valuable investments. This is why, when the Nintendo Switch was first announced, the fact that it was regionless made many gamers ecstatic. He destroyed the arbitrary barrier that prevented players from other countries from accessing physical versions of titles that might not be available in their region. This same thought process is also the reasoning behind getting a regionless Blu-ray player, and why anyone who is a movie fan should try looking for one. Physical media for movies is in a strange place, you could argue it’s the best it has ever been when it comes to actual content, but the looming dark cloud of streamers is getting harder and harder. to ignore. In any case, now is the best time to open its “borders” and its collections to the vast catalog that foreign countries have to offer.
There is no confirmed release date for the home release yet.
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