8 Classic Movies That You Can't Watch Anywhere
These films have practically disappeared from streaming services and DVD shelves.
Any single major streaming service—be it Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or one of the many others—offers more on-demand content than any one person could reasonably watch in their lifetime. And film and TV fans can also subscribe to an increasing number of niche streaming services, catering to specific interests such as horror (Shudder), art house classics (The Criterion Channel), and anime (Crunchyroll). On top of services that make a wealth of content available to subscribers, there are countless movies and TV series that are available to rent or buy digitally on demand.
And yet even with dozens of these services competing to fill their digital coffers with enticing offerings, there are numerous classic movies that simply aren't available either to stream or to rent digitally. Read on for seven classic films you can't stream anywhere right now.
READ THIS NEXT: The Worst Julia Roberts Movie of All Time, According to Critics.
The Abyss (1989)
Sandwiched between massively successful sequels Aliens and Terminator 2, James Cameron's The Abyss has a reputation as a bit of an underachiever, but really only in comparison to the rest of the filmmaker's blockbuster oeuvre. At the time, the sci-fi drama about a group of deep sea explorers who encounter an alien presence in the ocean's depths made about $90 million worldwide—nearly double its $47 million production budget—and was nominated for four Oscars, winning for Best Visual Effects. And yet the film is difficult to catch anywhere nowadays. The DVDs are long out of print and the film was never issued on Blu-ray, nor has it been available for streaming. In 2019, Cameron told Empire that Blu-ray transfers have been completed for both The Abyss and True Lies, but he simply needs to find the time to approve them—which is apparently a challenge for the notorious perfectionist.
A religious satire about two fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) trying to get back into heaven and wreaking havoc on Earth in the process doesn't sound like it has the makings of a hit film, yet the fourth feature by director Kevin Smith has developed into something of a cult classic in the decades since its release. Its reputation has been buoyed as much by the controversy surrounding its original release—it was the subject of a boycott by the Catholic League—as the shocking number of huge stars in its cast, including Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, the late Alan Rickman, and even Alanis Morissette (who cameos as God herself). Its legacy has not been helped by the fact that it is still unavailable on streaming or for rent. It was released on Blu-ray back in 2008, but that version is out of print and sold for a pretty penny by collectors. According to Smith, the movie is in limbo because it's owned by disgraced former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and the filmmaker would rather the movie disappear rather than pay Weinstein for the rights.
The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
If the plot of The Brave Little Toaster seems familiar—a bunch of old appliances band together to leave their derelict home and go in search of the former owner—you might not be surprised to learn that the movie was originally conceived by some of the same people who would go on to found Pixar and release the thematically similar Toy Story eight years later. Despite these auspicious roots, you currently can't stream the 1987 animated adventure anywhere, even while the inferior direct-to-video sequels The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue and The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars are available on Disney+. According to The Stranger, rights issues with the film's original distributor are preventing it from joining the two other films there.
For more entertainment trivia sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Before she was Sex and the City's Samantha, Kim Cattrall made a name for herself as a department store display imbued with the spirit of a woman from ancient Egypt in the silly rom-com Mannequin. Given how high her star has risen in the decades since the film was released, you'd expect it to be a streaming favorite—but if you want to watch Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy in it now, you're out of luck unless you want to pick up a copy on DVD. The film is unavailable for streaming anywhere, though you can find its carbon-copy sequel, 1987's Mannequin Two: On the Move, in which Kristy Swanson steps in for Cattrall.
Pink Floyd's The Wall (1982)
British rock group Pink Floyd tried their hand at recreating the success of The Who's Tommy: The Movie with 1982's The Wall, a grim musical film in which a depressed rock star feels oppressed by his existence and briefly entertains the idea of becoming a fascist dictator. Written by the band's singer and bassist Roger Waters, the film faced a difficult production but got good reviews and soon garnered a cult following for its unsettling imagery and early music video aesthetics. Yet today, the film is unavailable on Blu-ray and can't be streamed anywhere. One Quora Answers contributor out there on the internet thinks they know why: "Pink Floyd: The Wall is not available…because everyone involved in the project hates the movie." No comment from the band on whether or not that's true.
Silkwood was nominated for five Oscars and based on a shocking true story, yet you won't find the Mike Nichols film on any streaming services, and the DVDs are out of print. Meryl Streep was up for Best Actress for playing real-life whistleblower Karen Silkwood, who investigated safety shortcomings at the plutonium plant where she worked and was killed in a mysterious car crash en route to meet a New York Times journalist.
Per a 2020 Wall Street Journal article, Silkwood was distributed by a company that was later bought by Disney, yet "reached for this story, Disney couldn't say for sure if it owns the film." The distributor Kino Lorber did license the movie for a 2017 Blu-ray release, but cinephiles will be hard-pressed to find a resale copy that's not expensive.
The Fall (2006)
Lee Pace's stellar 2022, which saw him rise from a career as a respected character actor into the internet's "object of affection" (per GQ), likely had a ton of new fans delving into his filmography to experience the Bodies Bodies Bodies star's earlier work. Sadly, many were probably disappointed to discover his beloved-by-those-who-know 2006 film The Fall can't be easily viewed in the U.S. Rights issues have seen the film drop out of print on disc and disappear from streaming services.
Silent Movie (1976)
Many of legendary funny filmmaker Mel Brooks' movies are readily available, especially if you have a few bucks to spend on a rental. However, you won't easily come across his 1976 ensemble comedy Silent Movie, a parody of the early days of cinema. Though not as much of a crowd pleaser as Young Frankenstein or Spaceballs (a movie in which only one word is spoken would have been a hard sell in the mid-'70s, even if it were filled with sight gags and slapstick humor), Silent Movie was well received and could be finding a new generation of fans, if only it were streaming somewhere. Unfortunately, there are no concrete answers as to why it isn't.