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.
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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 (another of the director's films you can't stream), 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 film 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, nor has it even been released on Blu-ray. 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.
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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 attempted to recreate the magic of their 1975 concept album-turned-hit-film Tommy 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.
Strange Days (1995)
Cameron's ex-wife, fellow filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, has seen her own streaming difficulties. Though her 1987 vampire film Near Dark finally arose from the dead on The Criterion Channel earlier this year, her other cult favorite, 1995's cyberpunk sci-fi thriller Strange Days hasn't been as lucky. Co-written by Cameron, the film stars Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, and Juliette Lewis, and though it has found an audience over the years, it was a flop upon original release—perhaps the reason its owner, Disney, isn't eager to put a lot of effort into making it available on streaming of Blu-ray, especially since it was but one of many films the company inherited when it merged with 20th Century Fox.
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.