You’re watching Disney Plus and it’s too damn dark to see. So damn dark you’re likely to be eaten by a grue. What the heck were these filmmakers thinking?

Quick fix

Turn off Dolby Vision, and maybe turn off HDR, in your set-top box or TV’s settings menu.

I’m not sure why Disney Plus has an HDR problem, but here’s a quick solution (as shown on Apple TV) Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The full story

I love HDR. I think every modern movie, TV show, and game should take advantage of the incredible clarity that the extra dynamic range can deliver — particularly on my OLED TV, where the bright beautiful colors and inky blacks are enough to make an art-lover weep.

However, the Disney Plus streaming service does not seem to love HDR, at least the Dolby Vision variety, when played on said TV.

I was far from the only person with this problem.

In The Mandalorian, a show often set in scorching deserts and brightly electrified spaceships, I didn’t terribly mind. Then I started watching the Willow TV show, where the better part of several episodes take place at night, in a dreary abandoned castle, as the world fills with a deep dark fog.

We could spend hours talking about the many terrible choices that led to me watching the Willow TV series — let’s just say mistakes were made, both by me and the showrunner, and that I have words for my colleague Alex Cranz.

But late one night, I decided to search Reddit out of perverse curiosity. Turns out it might have less to do with a recent trend in filmmaking choices, and more to do with some weird quirk of how Disney Plus is passing Dolby Vision HDR via my set-top box!

After forcing myself to remember that HDR does not make things brighter (it’s supposed to make them brighter and dimmer, thus the “dynamic range”), I tried tweaking my HDR settings.

The fog was lifted and I could see.

HDR on vs. HDR off. (Turning off Dolby Vision was more subtle.)

If you’re not sure whether Dolby Vision or HDR are keeping you in the dark, here’s a simple test: pause and rewind until you see thumbnails pop up like the ones in my image slider above. If the difference is night and day, you might want to try toggling your HDR settings.

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