Los Angeles – Every major Hollywood studio has been releasing new films for digital purchase weeks ahead of the title's disc release for years now. But the window between the two seems to be speeding up.
What once was two weeks is now turning into three or four on a regular basis, with Paramount Home Media Distribution’s Star Trek Beyond being the latest example. Not out on 4K Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray or DVD until Nov. 1, digital-only fans had access a full four weeks ahead of time, on Oct. 4. In comparison, the film's predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness saw a three-week window between digital and disc.
Doug Jung (Banshee, Big Love), who cowrote Beyond with actor Simon Pegg, said the strategy of an early release for blockbuster films is just the reality of dealing with today’s digital consumers: They want it as soon as they can get it.
“I don’t mind it. It seems like the consumer future that we’re nearing, that it’s more and more the norm,” Jung told B&C, speaking Oct. 24 at a release event for the film. “Anything that exposes films to a broader audience is ultimately better for everyone. Theater exhibitors may not like it, but it’s better for films.”
Beyond the early availability of Hollywood films on digital, Jung also addressed the influx of next-gen home entertainment technologies confronting filmmakers and consumers. Besides 4K Ultra High-Def (UHD) Blu-ray, Beyond is also seeing a 3D release.
“I’m in favor of any technology that enhances the storytelling,” Jung said. “If I feel like it’s just there to be there, I’m not interested. If I feel like it’s somehow enhanced the quality of the experience, made the story better, I’m all for it.” He described how, while Beyond was being shot, he went to see Everest in theaters, and accidently purchased a ticket for the 3D showing. “At first I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, that light reduction you get with something like a nature documentary, and I have to say, I kind of forgot about it [while watching],” he said. “Anything that immerses the audiences in the story, I’m all for it.”
As for the film itself, Jung admitted writing a Star Trek film was “a screenwriters’ dream … we got to see this thing from inception all the way through, and I’ll probably never [have] that experience again.”