The Perils of a Modern Blu-ray and DVD Collection

Missing discs, never-watched "must have" movies, and upside down spines...

When the world has gone fully digital, we won’t have the simple pleasure of arranging our movie collection in alphabetical order on a set of shelves purloined from IKEA for said purpose. Nor we will face the perils outlined below, the majority of which have probably affected many of you out there.

Feel free to add further suggestions in the comments. But for now, gaze longingly at your movie collection and consider whether you’ve suffered from any of these…

You will own at least one film ‘to complete the set’

Warner Bros has been really quite cunning with the much-unloved Batman & Robin. When the DVD format first launched towards the end of the ’90s, it was one of the studio’s first discs, and offered one of the best quality video transfers available on the format. Thus, home cinema enthusiasts handed over considerable cash for the privilege of using it as a demo disc. To demonstrate both quality home cinema…and terrible moviemaking.

Furthermore, Batman & Robin has been resident in Batmanboxsets as you’d expect. But the truth is that even on its original release, many people went out and bought a film they hated. Why?

Ad – content continues below

Well, it completes the set.

I’m guessing we’ve all been guilty of this at some point, and Batman & Robin is generally a good acid test. If you’d bought the videos/discs of BatmanBatman Returns, and Batman Forever, then it rounded out the collection at that point (for some time at least, before Christopher Nolan came along). And thus it sat on people’s shelves, like a piece of IKEA decoration, doomed never to be watched. At least for more than ten minutes.

There’s an acclaimed art house film still in its shrink wrap

My colleague, Ryan, has long had Amour on his watching list. He’s got it ready and lined up, and but can’t bring himself to press play on the film. Why? Well, if you’ve seen a Michael Haneke film in the past, you’ve already got an idea of what you’re likely to get. But also, no matter how much acclaim has been rightly levelled at the film, when it comes to a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday night movie, it’s rarely one that anyone reaches for.

I’m very guilty of this too. I’ve got a bunch of acclaimed movies that I can’t wait to watch, but always seem to end up reaching for the original RoboCop or Con Airwhen I can’t think of what I want to put on. There’s a bunch of films I know I should be watching, that I know I’ll really love. And then there’s a bunch of films that I really, really want to watch on loop. Guess which pile seems to win when I’m dithering?

There’s at least one boxset that doesn’t fit on the shelf

It was the advent of DVD that sparked the abnormally-sized collectors’ boxset (although there were examples in the VHS era too). Whether it’s an Alien boxset in the shape of a xenomorph’s head, a Blade Runner limited edition briefcase that it’s hard to even stack near the shelf, or a massively expensive Harry Potter limited set, there’s always something that doesn’t fit. But it’s not as bad as…

There’s at least one film with a spine the wrong way around, and it’s irritating

Perhaps my favourite example of irregularity in spine art is with the TV show Monk.

Ad – content continues below

Monk is a show centred around a character who has compulsive habits, and needs everything in order. As such, for the first six seasons of the show, the box art was uniform. But for season 7? Well, just take a look at the following picture…

However, you don’t have to be a Monkfan to struggle with the spines of DVDs. Artificial Eye releases in the UK run the title upside down (or otherwise, depending how you look at it). As such, when you stand back and look at your shelf, proudly, the discs with the imperfect spine art stand out a mile. A first world problem, granted, and in the scheme of the planet, it matters not a jot. It’s just bloody annoying…!

Format double dips

This was, to be fair, worse in the DVD era. Fans of John Carpenter’s Halloween, for instance, had to gather together umpteen different releases just to get the full collection of extras together (we’re coming to that shortly). Furthermore, towards the end of DVD’s peak, special editions of previously released discs were flooding the market. We were all apparently supposed to use the word ‘vanilla’ to accept the extras-free release. That said, the likes of Peter Jackson pioneered the idea of actually telling us that a special edition was around the corner.

The end result was films that sit on our shelves more than once. If it’s a film you love, chances are you’ll want the assorted different versions of it.

Conversely, there comes a point where you ask yourself how many different times you should buy a copy of Die Hard. I own it on VHS, widescreen VHS, DVD, special edition DVD, and Blu-ray. Somewhere in Nakatomi Plaza, they’re planning an animated version, just to get a few more bucks off me. And it’ll work.

There then are more double dips, just so you can get the extras

Paramount hit controversy a year or two back, by splitting the extras for Star Trek Into Darkness across a variety of online services, whilst leaving the official Blu-ray looking decidedly empty as a result (seeStar Trek Into Darkness and the missing Blu-ray extras). Thankfully, it has not repeated the trick. But extras-splitting is nothing new.

Ad – content continues below

On the original DVD release of Field Of Dreams was an excellent, extended documentary on the making of the film. The subsequent special edition that was released, that upgraded the technicals and added more features? It was missing. Back to Best Buy, then.

At least in that case I could at least get hold of the extras easily enough. Some supplements are still exclusive to certain countries, and given that regional coding – amazingly – still isn’t dead, it’s not just that there remains something of a customs and import duty challenge even before you stick the disc in the player. When you do so, you’re still occasionally greeted by the chipper news of a geographic restriction. Oh, how I laugh.

One exception: double dips when you’re told in advance they’re coming. It still not perfect, but at least it feels fair.

No matter how organised your collection is, there’s at least one disc missing from its box

It is the law of sod. A disc that’s missing from its box, because the kids wanted to play pass the parcel with your DVD collection. Or simply a poltergeist in the home (the only logical explanation, given that nobody ever owns up to these things) that means the wrong disc is in the wrong box. It never happens when someone suggests a film you don’t want to watch. It usually happens when you suggest one you do.

There’s a hugely collectable disc on the shelf, still in shrinkwrap

At least until the day that a friend/relative/future enemy unwraps said disc, unaware of its collectable value, that has now, as a consequence, declined. It’s not an issue. Nor is this piece in any way autobiographical. At all.

There’s a film missing that you’ve lent to a ‘friend’


Ad – content continues below

In the digital age, this is going to be less of a problem, but how many of us have lent a video, DVD, or Blu-ray to a friend, and not had it back? What is the statute of limitations? If they’ve not brought it back after a week, is that where the ‘taking the piss’ line lies? At what stage does it become a case of Christmas cards cancelled, civilities over, and full scale animosity kicks in?

It sounds something minor, but it can’t help but rankle. If you’ve lent someone a film, you – not unreasonably – expect them to watch it and return it in good time. The onus is surely on them. The slight exception is if you’ve passed it on as a recommendation and they’ve not asked for it. But even so: there’s a very specific space on the shelf for that copy of Terminal Velocity, and the row of Ts simply doesn’t look the same without it. Sure, it’s only a couple of quid for another copy, but THAT’S NOT THE POINT. Er, occasionally, there’s a rationality bypass I suffer on this one…

So, er, anything there anyone else can relate to?