Warner Bros & Universal set to merge their disc operations

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Warner Bros will be distributing Universal DVDs, Blu-rays and 4Ks under the terms of a major new deal.

Movie studios have struggled to adapt to the fall in disc sales over the past decade or so, to the point where we’re increasingly being steered to digital services to buy or ‘rent’ the latest releases.

As such, the big studios have consolidated their home entertainment operations. In the UK, for instance, Universal now also distributes on disc films from Paramount and Entertainment One, as well as its own library. Yet that may be about to change.

For an even bigger merging of operations is coming, it seems.

In the US, news has broken that Warner Bros and Universal Pictures are looking to merge their physical disc distribution operations into one. It’s a deal being done in America with global ramifications for physical media, and the idea is that the single entity will distribute DVDs, Blu-rays and 4K Ultra HD discs from early 2021.

In the UK, it means that Warner Bros will distribute all Universal titles (it’s the reverse in some other countries, with territories being split up), and presumably take on the Paramount and Entertainment One contracts too, although that’s still far from clear.

Digital distribution meanwhile will remain with each respective studio, and likewise so will marketing.

The deal still needs to be ratified by the United States Justice Department, although it feels like that may be a surmountable hurdle in this case.

Furthermore, it looks like it’ll cement the disc operations of both companies for some time into the future. Hope so anyway.

We’ll keep you posted as we hear more. But this is pretty big news in the land of physical media.

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