Physical Media Anonymous: The Art of Double Dipping

I was sharing my physical media collection a couple weeks back and mentioned organizing them alphabetically so that all my copies of a specific title were in a single location. It immediately occurred to me how nutty that must have read to a non-collector and I suppose, logically, it is. Every year I tell myself I’m not going to purchase another release of a film I already own and every year I do exactly that. I’m sure I’m not alone. If any of you fellow super collectors out there have only one release of JAWS (1975). The THING (1982), or Halloween (1978) then pat yourselves on the back because you’re a far stronger person than me.

Prophecy (1979) Shout! Factory and Eureka

Just last month Arrow had their Dario Argento 4K box sets on sale and before you could say “Paypal” I found myself adding yet another edition of Deep Red (1975), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), and Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) to my collection. Why do we do it? Is it about the packaging? Completionism? Or is it just the way we’re wired?

I’ve always had the collector mentality. When I was in grade school I collected Topps Wacky Packages cards before graduating to Marvel Comics in the early ’80s. I no longer buy comic books per se but do currently collect Marvel hardcover omnibus books which are about the same thing. Stamps, STAR WARS figures, MOLD-A-RAMAS, vintage horror paperbacks, autographs, etc – you name it, I probably collected it. Movie collecting is actually something that’s weaved in and out of my life as I had a literal wall of VHS tapes back in my ’20s. On the plus side, when I was unemployed for a spell some twenty years ago, I was able to keep my family afloat selling off a few good collectibles. 

The Strangers (2008) UK’s Second Sight Box edition and Shout! Factory

The biggest lesson I learned is to only buy what you like. Unless money is no object, don’t buy things because it completes a collection or because you think they might be worth something in the future. Incidentally, we nerdy males are not the only ones guilty of violating this principle. Go watch the HBOMax documentary on the Beanie Baby craze and you’ll see what I mean. 

My Achilles heel is that primitive part of my brain that’s still attracted to shiny things. This is what makes those boutique labels so darn seductive. I have three Blu-ray copies of John Carpenter’s The THING. The first one I bought from Shout! Factory. Then I went on to buy the Arrow box edition (Confession: I LOVE Arrow box editions above all other packagings) and an attractive import Steelbook I found on eBay. I bought the last two for no other reason than how they looked – plus the Arrow one offered more bonus features and a booklet/poster. 

The 4K format has inspired many of us to double dip as we all want the best version of a film. I do have mixed feelings about 4K. It could be my age (specifically my eyesight) but I don’t always see the difference between Blu-ray and 4K. Sometimes I can really see a difference (the Lord of the Rings Trilogy comes to mind) but others not so much. Fortunately for my wallet, I’m not as reeled in by new 4K editions if I already have it on Blu-ray; especially when it comes out in 4K with the same packaging as its previously released Blu-ray. I understand it saves them money in the short term but may cost them more in the long one. As a collector, I feel less guilty double-dipping with a 4K release if it offers more bonus materials or an attractive new package design than one that doesn’t.

War of the Worlds (1953) Australia’s Imprint with slip box and Criterion Collection

As I said, only buy what you like!

Now if only I didn’t like so much…






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