10 Movies That Are Surprisingly Hard to Find (So Keep Your Discs)

strange days movie

Recently, I wrote an article about how Ron Howard’s Cocoon was hard to find in any format. It came out on DVD many years ago but went out of print and has never been issued on Blu-ray. You also can’t find it digitally on any platform. This is a perfect example of why you should always hang on to your physical media, as I’m lucky enough to own the now out-of-print DVD of that movie, and while it’s far from an ideal copy, it’s something. 


But that got me thinking. What other movies are hard to find? I opened up the forum on Twitter, and I was shocked by how many prominent films aren’t available digitally and have gone out of print on disc, making them all the more precious for collectors. At the same time, there are some happy endings, such as Martin Campbell’s No Escape, which got a beautiful Blu-ray recently; too many of these films are caught up in legal limbo (or studio antipathy). 

Here are 10:

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The one that started it all. How does a movie that won Don Ameche an Oscar and revitalized the careers of Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, and the great Wilford Brimley go out of print? This is the movie that made Ron Howard an A-list director, and it was enough of a smash hit that it spawned a (pretty crappy) sequel, which, ironically, is very easy to find. What’s going on here? Disney may be working on a significant restoration, but it’s been gone for a long time.

Strange Days
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Strange Days: 

Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days was a major flop when it came out in 1995 but has since been reevaluated as a classic. As it stars Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Lewis and Angela Bassett and is widely considered one of the greatest films of the nineties, some significant release – possibly through a company like Criterion would seem like a no-brainer. However, Disney has been sitting on this one for a while now, with the likely culprit being that James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment owns the movie. Presumably, any redux has to be cleared by him. With The Abyss, True Lies and Aliens all getting 4K re-releases, Strange Days may be coming. This one is streaming on Max but in the wrong aspect ratio. The existing DVD is non-anamorphic, meaning it gets window-boxed on your TV unless you stretch it out.

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showtime movie
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This minor Eddie Murphy/ Robert De Niro comedy made a decent amount of coin when it came out, but it wasn’t a blockbuster. Yet, it’s a decent little action comedy, with a funny performance by William Shatner as himself. While it came out on DVD in an excellent anamorphic transfer, and you can buy it digitally in HD, it’s never been issued on Blu-ray.

Britney Spears Crossroads
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This Brittany Spears cult classic would have gotten a Blu-ray re-release with all sorts of bells and whistles. Yet, outside of its original DVD run, it’s never been issued on Blu-ray and can’t be bought digitally. However, it was recently released to theatres in a special limited run to celebrate Spears’ new autobiography so the movie may be coming relatively soon.

George A. Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead is getting a theatrical re-release at Regal Cinemas for its 45th anniversary
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Dawn of the Dead: 

This one comes with a caveat. George A. Romero’s zombie classic has been released on a beautiful 4K disc internationally and is region-free. Yet, it still needs to get a North American release on 4K and isn’t available digitally, which is a shame. Younger horror fans watch most of their stuff this way, and one hates to think they could be missing out on one of the genre’s best movies. 

looking for mr Goodbar movie
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Looking for Mr. Goodbar: 

This 1977 film helped establish Diane Keaton as a star and was a significant hit. It’s based on the true story of a teacher who was played the bar scene in the early seventies and was eventually murdered by a man she had a one-night stand with. It’s a haunting film with a disturbing ending, but very hard to find. It’s only ever been released on VHS and Laserdisc, with rights issues surrounding the film’s music, which is what’s kept this in limbo. It doesn’t help that Paramount Pictures is famously slow regarding releasing library titles. Again, this would be a great one for the Criterion Collection.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes: 

We recently covered this movie in our series Fantasizing About Fantasy Films, which was available on DVD/ Blu-ray for a while. Yet, Disney has vaulted this Ray Bradbury adaptation, and you can’t stream it or buy it digitally, either.

the blood of heroes
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The Blood of Heroes (aka Salute of the Jugger):

This post-apocalyptic action movie comes from David Webb Peoples, the writer of Blade Runner, Unforgiven and Soldier. It was a rare directorial effort that reteamed him with Rutger Hauer, who stars opposite a young Joan Chen and Vincent D’Onofrio. Legal rights limbo has kept this one obscure in North America, with various cuts circulating in bad transfers. Hopefully, it gets some kind of restoration, and it’s a neat little sci-fi movie.

John Woo hard boiled 1992 Chow Yun fat
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John Woo’s Hong Kong Films: 

Recently, John Woo mentioned that he would love to restore his Hong Kong classics with a company like Criterion, but that the rights to most of the movies are caught up in legal limbo. The Killer and Hard Boiled are streaming and on Blu-ray (albeit in interlaced transfers), but A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2 and Bullet in the Head are MIA.

the heartbreak kid
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The Heartbreak Kid:

Elaine May is a revered figure on film Twitter, but her biggest hit, The Heartbreak Kid, which got remade by the Farrelly Bros, is impossible to find. This is a shame as it’s one of star Charles Gordon’s best movies and features two Oscar-nominated performances by Jeannie Berlin (also May’s daughter) and Eddie Albert. 

What titles have we missed? Let us know in the comments!