Reports about the death of physical media have been appearing since online streaming services like Napster and YouTube began challenging the supremacy of CDs and VHS tapes early in the millennium.

In Japan, that death took on a literal meaning when Tokyo Laboratory, a film processing company that started business in 1955, announced it would cease operations in November 2023 and dispose of nearly 20,000 films in its possession if copyright owners didn’t come forward.

This story had a happy ending, of sorts: Toho Archive, a member of the same Toho corporate group as Tokyo Laboratory, later agreed to store the threatened films, but screenings are still not possible without the permission of copyright holders, including small distributors that no longer exist.