Movie Collection part 6: The Third Era

The Second Era of movie collecting for me would be marked by the wrap up of The Great DVD Purge, which began in 2005 and ended a short year later in 2006. For the record, the First Era would be everything before DVD technology, so all those VHS movies I bought and movies that were crudely recorded off television. It could also be marked by a shift in the rules of buying. I developed a DVD Counting Standard before, but the rules of acquisition were never clearly defined, nor would they be. But there would be – and has been – a value in placing, at least, some loose guidelines to my own buying habits.

I wouldn’t say that I was out of control with DVDs. Financially, it was difficult to do so. Today, with a decent amount of disposable income, combined with easier access and an abundance of special editions create a perfect recipe to get carried away. I tried putting some limitations on myself.

Don’t buy a movie that is less than one year old.

This may seem odd, but I wanted to ensure that I truly appreciated the movie and had an interest in seeing it again before buying. This could be done to avoid any kinds of duds that would begin to litter the collection. It also addressed specifically my habit of loving every movie I saw in the theatre – the entire theatre going experience would skew my score on a film – and would result in me buying a movie upon home release based on that experience. Sometimes I would see a movie again at home after buying, and wonder, “why?”

While the collection quality could be increased, there was a flip side in that the addition of special, time limited editions of films that I truly did enjoy were out of grasp. There are a few brilliant movies that have sub-par releases in my collection now because of this rule, but there are also a decidedly higher ratio of “quality” films that I’m proud of.

Stop Caring About Editions

As a result of the one year rule, I told myself to stop caring about what edition I had. It was about the movie, moreso than anything else. When the lights are off, it doesn’t matter how many extras are there, or what type of packaging the movie is in: I’m here to enjoy the movie itself. The only thing that could grab me though were remasters where the audio/visual quality was better than a previous release, but I had to carefully weigh those purchases. Another benefit of waiting at least a year was that those remastered editions were typically coming out during the time I wanted to buy.

The rule was steady until the collecting bug really bit me and I started seeing more “special” editions than I was accustomed to. What ended up happening is some catalogue releases coming out with special editions, like SE7EN, in its digibook package. I love the movie, so I was going to buy it, and the edition was properly mastered and so happened to be in a format that I loved. It would inevitably lead to me considering digibook editions more often than not, for the sake of the collection – although, I still had to enjoy the movie.

Steelbooks are a Scam

I was pretty negative toward steelbook releases initially, as I viewed them as cash-ins on what amounted to the exact same release of a normal Bluray, but with “steel” packaging. Some movies lacked the extra features that their regular counterparts had, affirming that you were paying a premium for the package alone. The marketing for them left a bad taste in my mouth as well, as they were typically touted at Future Shop as exclusive. It was easy to avoid most of them of course, as they would be released for newer movies that I wasn’t going to buy anyway.

INCEPTION was probably my first steelbook. It broke two of my guidelines (being recent and a steelbook) but it was a gift, so the guidelines were moot. However, it had an unexpected side effect of being a special edition that contained just the movie, which went with my overall goal of just enjoying the movie itself. They typically feature better artwork, and makes for a much nicer display on the shelf. I realized the error of my way and slowly began picking up more steelbooks, although I always made sure it was the movie I was buying foremost, rather than the packaging. It also doesn’t help that digibook editions are few and far between (my preferred packaging).

Love the Movie

This was easier back when I started, but becomes more difficult: once you buy all your favourite fims, where do you go? Well, instead of buying only 10/10 movies, you buy 9/10, and so on. I’ve never been partial to rating films in that way either, and determined that there was no set rule here and that I could simply buy a film to enjoy the film for any number of merits.

No Blind Buys

This was probably made in an effort to save money, of course, and to ensure the quality of my collection was up to my own standards. But, I break it from time to time. I find myself downloading a movie to watch first, then going out to buy it if I find it enjoyable. While this may be reprehensible to many, it’s definitely operating in the gray area and without a doubt, has had the benefit of increasing my total purchases and expanding my interests into artists and genres that I normally wouldn’t visit. It’s also a lot easier to blind buy a movie when it’s cheap enough and has enough positive reviews.

Embrace the Hunt

This is a more recent guideline that’s always been in place, but never brought to the forefront. Embracing the hunt is just that: enjoy the search for those movies. Enjoy looking for the deals. Enjoy looking for movies that will fit into your collection. Enjoy looking for things you’ve never seen. The list is long, and it was kind of there to prevent me from just going online and ordering everything I wanted, especially in terms of pre-orders. Not only do you support local establishments, you get the satisfaction of the kill. Unfortunately, unbeatable prices will often win out and it’s nearly always cheaper to buy online.

So in the end, the guidelines were a nice thought but many of them have been thrown out, or at least, bent a bit. I didn’t hesitate to buy PACIFIC RIM when it came out, and I haven’t regretted the purchase nor the broken rule. I’m getting into steelbook editions: it creates goals during the hunt, and is fun to research. This goes for collecting day to day as well. I’ll buy equal parts special and bare bone editions of movies.

There are so many instances where your guidelines are going to be broken: maybe you are collecting every film from a certain director, and you like 90% of them. Do you buy the rest? In time, I can see myself doing exactly that.

There are few other guidelines too, including the issue of upgrading. Typically I don’t, unless the release is significantly better (see FULL METAL JACKET, for example). In terms of price, I like to avoid anything over $20 (unless it’s a high quality product or a favourite movie), and when a decent title goes under $10, there becomes very little guarantee that I can resist it.