Okay, folks... we’ve got a LOT of ground to cover today, and I’m seriously not kidding, so strap in and hold on tight...
First up, it broke last night on the Interwebs that a company called Manta Lab in Hong Kong, which is a legit Disney licensee, was taking pre-orders for a “disc-less” Steelbook Blu-ray package for Marvel’s Disney+ streaming series WandaVision. Now, as you can imagine, that’s caused a great deal of surprise and consternation.
Some context... Manta Lab creates deluxe and custom packaging for lots of legit studio home entertainment releases, which are extremely popular with collectors, especially in the Asian market. However, since Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment officially exited the Asian market (apart from Japan), all of these licensing deals are made with Disney Consumer Products. The problem with this WandaVision release is that this is a title for which no authorized Blu-ray release exists anywhere in the world. So outside of the Steelbook packaging’s value as an objet d’art in and of itself, there’s no practical use for this packaging apart from holding people’s bootleg Blu-rays. And unfortunately, the proliferation of bootleg copies of Disney+ streaming titles has exploded online. (Don’t believe me? Visit Etsy and search for “WandaVision Blu-ray”—or just click here.)
In any case, when this news broke last night, too many otherwise respectable geek and movie news outlets online reported it as “Marvel and Disney have announced...” when nothing of the sort was true. This is a product licensed by Disney Consumer Products, but it is not in any way shape or form a licensed Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment release. I immediately contacted my sources at Disney last night, who assured me that this was the case, and who have this morning provided us with this statement:
“While Manta Lab is a legit licensee of Disney, and does create custom Steelbooks for Disney Blu-ray titles through Disney Consumer Products, the pre-order for a disc-less WandaVision was a surprise to some and we are looking into it as well as speaking to our partners in market.”
I expect to hear more back from Disney in the next day or so, so be sure to check back here on The Bits, and you can also follow us @BillHuntBits and @thedigitalbits on Twitter/X for the latest updates as I get them. Suffice it to say, this has generated an enormous amount of confusion outside of Manta Lab’s usual collector customer base. I’ve gotten literally hundreds of emails and messages in the last 24 hours from readers asking why Disney and Marvel would be releasing Steelbook packaging for a title they don’t appear to have any plans to actually release on physical media. (They aren’t, and stay tuned for further information.) [Read on here...]
In the meantime, here’s a look at the Manta Lab imagery that caused all the stir...
Now then, on a strangely-related and also confusing note, the Australian physical media retailer Sanity has just announced that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is officially pulling out of the Australian market in addition to Asia. (You can see their official Facebook post linked here and also below.) Naturally, this news just makes us shake our heads. Again, we’ll post information more on this as it becomes available to us from our reliable studio and industry sources.
In better news today, however, a whole host of new catalog and new release 4K Ultra HD titles have just become available for pre-order on Amazon, including:
- Scream 3 (2000), a Scream 3 Steelbook SKU, and Scream: The Original Trilogy all on 10/3, as well as Rosemary’s Baby (1968) on 10/10, all from Paramount.
- Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023) and a double-feature of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) on 9/5 from Sony.
- The Exorcist (1973), The Exorcist: 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition with Steelbook, and The Exorcist: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition with Steelbook and BFI Film Classics Book all on 10/9 (as in 9 October) from Warner Bros. in the UK. (We now expect the US street date to be 10/10, but we’re still waiting for official confirmation.)
And for proof, here’s the cover artwork for all of the above, with the requisite Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk pre-order links...
All of these titles should be officially announced by the studios in question any day now, so we’ll post the press releases and relevant details as they become available.
Finally today, our friends at Kino Lorber Studio Classics have revealed that they’re working on a new 4K Ultra HD release of John Hughes’ Uncle Buck (1989), as well as a new Blu-ray edition of Maggie Greenwald’s The Ballad of Little Jo (1993). Both are currently listed as “coming soon.”
And that’s all for now. Whew!
Please keep checking my Twitter feed (@BillHuntBits) for the latest breaking information (and a follow there would surely be appreciated). We will definitely post updates here as well, but that takes a little more time.
(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)