If you were a child of the early 2000s, there’s a good chance that your Britney Spears fandom reached fever pitch around 2002, when she enjoyed the success of her third studio album, “Britney.” And, months after that VMA Python moment, she starred in her first feature film: “Crossroads.”
The film, written by Shonda Rhimes, follows Spears’ character and two friends, played by Zoe Saldana and Taryn Manning, as they take a cross-country journey to find friendship, rock ‘n’ roll, and maternal connection. Singing is happening on the open road. There are huge convenience store trips. There is a boy.
I, having turned 7 that year in Boise, Idaho, knew exactly what I wanted for my birthday: “Crossroads” on DVD, so I could watch it about 300 times.
Twenty years later, before the release next week of Spears’ memoir, “The Woman in Me,” I wanted to re-watch my favorite childhood movie. But that became nearly impossible to do: “Crossroads” wasn’t streaming on Netflix. Nor was it on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, or any other streaming service I discovered.
Finally, I tracked down my original “Crossroads” DVD, but I encountered a new problem: All the devices I used to watch the DVDs – computers, TVs, gaming systems – no longer support them. Are. I was stuck.
Top manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, and LG used to sell millions of DVD players a year. In 2009, 88 percent of American households owned a DVD player, according to Nielsen, By the start of 2021 that number was only 56 percent, and lower for younger people.
Gaming systems used to market themselves All-in-One Entertainment Center, where families could play games and watch movies. but by 2020 xbox series s Was designed for “disk-free gaming”. This year, a version of the PlayStation 5 did not include a disc drive. The last Apple MacBook to have a disk drive was released in 2012.
This reflects a decline in the disc market, which suffered another blow last week when Best Buy confirmed it would stop selling DVD and Blu-ray discs after the holiday season. Netflix discontinued its DVD delivery service in late September.
The DVD, which entered the market in Japan in 1996 as a more compact and durable replacement for VHS tapes, reached its peak popularity in the mid-2000s, when film studios compared sales in the first week of DVD release. Started reporting better sales numbers. Box Office. Just a few years later, during the Great Recession, home sales began to decline.
“To put it bluntly, the way we watch movies and TV shows is very different today than it was decades ago,” a spokesperson for Best Buy wrote in an email to The New York Times.
In 2021, physical media accounted for just 8 percent of the U.S. entertainment market, or $2.8 billion, according to the Motion Picture Association. This is a fraction of the billions of dollars consumers spent on DVDs in 2005 and 2006, around market peak,
Jason E. Squires, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and host of “The Movie Business Podcast,” said, “DVD’s widespread fall out of use is one reason for the changes over time in terms of technology ” ,
“The map of entertainment industry history is littered with these kinds of landmarks – radio, television, home entertainment,” he said.
Despite so many streaming services, some movies and television series still fail, either because the services don’t think there is an audience for them, or because it would be too expensive to license them.
Streaming services often purchase temporary rights to a movie or show, leaving some titles unavailable for periods of time while they are without a streaming home.
For example, “Friend,” which was on Netflix for five years and was speculated to be one of the Its most watched shows areIt was unavailable on streaming for about five months between the end of the Netflix deal and the start and run of the show’s next platform, HBO Max.
That’s why, let’s say, if you try to continue your journey through millennial nostalgia and look for the “Spice World” movie, you’ll find that it is not streamable in the United States – but it is available on DVD. Available at. If you still have a DVD player this is great news.
At the moment, there are still a lot of customers who prefer to have their favorite movies reliably available as physical items.
“We basically get customers buying physical media every day,” said Diana Hernandez, deputy store manager at the Midtown Manhattan location of Bookoff, a secondhand store that sells DVDs. Some are buyers of nostalgia; Others are older and more comfortable with the format; And some don’t have access to the internet.
“Looking back, people in the future will say, ‘Yeah, well, this is another typical change for the entertainment industry because of new technology,'” Mr. Squires said.
But we’re not quite there yet. For those who want backups of their favorite series or movie, other major retailers still carry them, and the secondhand market is strong in many cities: For example, Bookoff is soon expanding to Long Island, Ms. Hernandez said.
As far as my “Crossroads” journey, I managed to play my old copy on a DVD player I borrowed from a friend. (Spoiler alert: It persists.)
And if you want your own nostalgia trip but don’t have time to get your hands on a DVD player, good news: The movie is Returning to theaters for just two days to celebrate the release of Spears’ memoir next week.