Home theater fans are being starved of the new 4K Blu-ray releases they want and it's not okay

4K Blu-ray action movies splayed out on a kitchen counter
(Image credit: Future)

It’s been an interesting time in the world of 4K Blu-ray. There has been recent news that several critically acclaimed, award nominated movies will not be getting a 4K Blu-ray release, or even any type of physical release in some cases. But, there are also instances where movies being decimated by critics and audiences alike are somehow getting the 4K Blu-ray treatment.

Take, for instance, All of Us Strangers and Madame Web. Yes, it’s odd to see these two movies name-dropped in the same sentence as they are worlds apart. All of Us Strangers, starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, is based on the 1987 novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada and tells the story of a screenwriter who develops a relationship with a neighbor and returns to his childhood home to find his parents living there as if they hadn’t died 30 years ago. 

Madame Web, based on the somewhat fringe character from Marvel’s Spider-Man comics, stars Dakota Johnson in the titular role alongside current mega-star Sydney Sweeney and is Sony’s next foray into its ‘Spider-Man universe’ following movies such as Venom and Morbius. It tells the story of a paramedic who becomes clairvoyant and must protect three young women from an evil force. 

All of Us Strangers received universal critical acclaim for its powerful story and incredible acting, particularly from Scott. It has been nominated for a slew of awards, including several BAFTAs. Madame Web, on the other hand, is being savaged by critics and audience members alike. It currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 15% and 59% from critics and audiences respectively, with many citing the poor writing, bad effects and overall dull feel. 

Yet, only one of these movies is getting a 4K Blu-ray release: Madame Web. All of Us Strangers, on the other hand, isn’t getting a physical release at all (as reported by World of Reel). I admittedly have not seen either of these movies, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve been told by people who’ve seen it, All of Us Strangers belongs on 4K Blu-ray and it’s a crime that it’s not. 

I don’t want to speak for anyone, but from what I read in several comment sections and forums such as Reddit, home theater fans and cinephiles are not okay with the fact that this is the state of 4K Blu-ray and physical media releases at the moment. So just what is going on?

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal in All of Us Strangers

Despite critical acclaim, All of US Strangers, starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal (pictured), will not be getting a 4K Blu-ray release (Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

Disney does it again

Now, I’d like to start by saying that there will be home theater fans out there who will gladly purchase Madame Web on 4K Blu-ray and add it to their collection, and that’s great! The problem I have is, why can’t lauded movies such as All of Us Strangers get the same treatment as Madame Web? Reading one Madame Web Reddit thread about its 4K Blu-ray Amazon pre-order certainly sheds light on how some home theater fans are feeling about this very topic. 

We said when we heard the news that Disney may be killing off 4K Blu-ray that it would be a crime, and as time goes on it definitely seems like this is the case as Disney continues to phase out physical media.

All of Us Strangers is a Searchlight, formerly Fox Searchlight, production and as a Fox product, is now owned by Disney. This means All of Us Strangers, despite its success and acclaim, won’t be getting a physical release. That's right, a movie which has seen its cinematography, by Jamie D. Ramsay, highly praised, won’t be coming to the physical media format it was made for – 4K Blu-ray. 

This isn’t the first time this has happened in recent memory. It was announced that Best Picture Oscar-nominated movies Poor Things, starring Emma Stone, and The Holdovers, starring Paul Giamatti, will only be getting standard Blu-ray releases, not 4K. These movies are both generating a lot of buzz in the awards scene, with both Stone and Giamatti already having won best actor Golden Globes, and yet movie fans won’t get to enjoy them at home in their best possible quality.

Emma Stone in Poor Things

Poor Things starring Emma Stone (pictured) is nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, but will only be getting a standard Blu-ray release, not 4K Blu-ray (Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

Barbarian, starring Bill Skarsgård, is another movie that has been seemingly denied a physical release (as a press release mentioned a streaming date only). And Barbarian is a cult horror movie – a genre that particularly suits 4K Blu-ray and physical media – that has enjoyed great success. Understandably, fans in forums far and wide have cried out for a physical copy. 

These are the kind of movies the best 4K Blu-ray players were made for. Home theater fans, in general, are movie-goers, and they will be wanting to add these movies to their collections, but can’t as it stands. What connects three of these four movies? You guessed it, they’re all owned by Disney. (The Holdovers is from Focus Features). 

The Warriors 4K Blu-ray on brown carpet

Companies such as Arrow are keeping 4K Blu-ray alive with remasters like this one of The Warriors (pictured) (Image credit: Future)

It shouldn’t be all on smaller companies 

Recently, I wrote about how 4K Blu-ray isn’t dying despite Disney’s best efforts and in that article I championed the efforts of distributors such as Arrow Films, The Criterion Collection and many more for their work remastering and distributing oft-forgotten and neglected movies on physical media. In that article, I cited my own copy of The Warriors, remastered in 4K by Arrow, as a particular highlight. 

While I still applaud these companies, it shouldn't be all on them. Why should we be waiting potentially years for a physical release of All of Us Strangers or a 4K release of Poor Things from Arrow, Criterion or any of the other smaller companies when Disney could release them with its much wider distribution resources? 

This situation also comes at a time when people are feeling disenfranchised by streaming sites, with regular price increases and strange behind-the-scenes trickery – the news that Prime Video pulled Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support from its ad-supported tiers, for instance. This is understandably driving people to purchase their favorite movies to have at home, but companies such as Disney and Best Buy, which recently  stopped selling physical media in its stores, are making that increasingly difficult. 

Final thoughts

It’s wrong that major distributors and retailers are pulling away from releasing physical copies of movies, especially 4K Blu-rays. All of the best TVs are now able to display 4K, but people at home won’t be able to revisit these critically loved films at home in the best possible quality, instead having to rely on a compressed 4K stream that won’t provide as good an experience as a 4K disc. 

Home theater fans spend time researching and investing in their setups, from the TV or projector to the sound system and even the Blu-ray player. They deserve a physical media format worthy of their system, and that format is 4K Blu-ray.

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James Davidson
TV Hardware Staff Writer, Home Entertainment

 James is the TV Hardware Staff Writer at TechRadar. Before joining the team, he worked at a major UK based AV retailer selling TV and audio equipment, where he was either telling customers the difference between OLED and QLED or being wowed by watching a PS5 run on the LG 65G2. When not writing about the latest TV tech, James can be found gaming, reading, watching rugby or coming up with another idea for a novel.