Disney Puts ‘Final Nail in the Coffin’ of Iceland's DVD Market Skip to content

Disney Puts ‘Final Nail in the Coffin’ of Iceland’s DVD Market

By Larissa Kyzer

Photo: Screenshot from Frozen 2 Trailer.

The recent announcement that there will not be an Icelandic-dubbed DVD edition of Frozen 2 is the death knell of the once-booming DVD market in Iceland, RÚV reports. According to Þorvaldur Árnason, the managing director of Samfilm, the distribution arm of the Sambíó theatre chain, Disney will no longer be releasing DVDs in smaller markets as it turns its focus to VOD rental platforms, a decision which Þorvaldur says signals the ‘the final nail in the coffin of DVDs and their releases in Iceland.’

Major foreign animated films generally screen in local movie theatres with Icelandic dubbing, but if Icelandic-language DVDs are not subsequently released, this could mean that Icelandic-speaking fans may have a long wait before they can watch the Icelandic version of the movie again. Streaming rights have to be negotiated for each film—Frozen 2, for instance, is currently available via the services offered by local telecom companies Síminn and Vodafone. However, if titles are restricted to specific streaming platforms, this could create delays for viewers after a movie leaves the theatre. Case in point: Disney now has its own streaming service, Disney+, but this platform is not yet available in Iceland and it is uncertain when it will make its debut in the country.

DVD (and before that VHS) rental was, for a long time, a mainstay of Icelandic culture, but like everywhere, the rise of streaming services and downloadable content has steadily chipped away at the local market. In 2015, Laugarásvídeó, Iceland’s largest video and DVD store, closed, with owner Gunnar Jósefsson citing the significant decrease in the number of films released with Icelandic subtitles as a primary factor in the closure. “There used to be 30-50 films released per month but now it’s more like ten,” Gunnar told Iceland Review at the time. Then, just last year, Iceland’s largest electronics chain, Elko, announced that it would no longer be selling DVDs.

While the DVD market is on the decline in Iceland, Þorvaldur says he believes Frozen 2 still would have sold well in the country. People can obviously still buy the DVD abroad, but without Icelandic dubbing, this really isn’t a practical or preferable option for parents with young children. In addition, he says, there are still collectors in Iceland who want to own movies on DVD, even if many homes no longer have a DVD player at all.

Icelanders tend to be early adopters, says Þorvaldur, which may have brought about a premature end to the local DVD market. “We Icelanders are so incredibly quick to switch over to new technologies that the market just collapsed here,” he remarked. “There is still a DVD market in the UK and in Germany and other large countries, but we’re so quick to adapt to new things.”

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