I realize this article’s title is a question, but just bear with me while I throw a few more questions your way.

When was the last time you purchased a film on Blu-ray or DVD? Is having a movie collection important to you? What impact have streaming services like Netflix had on your desire to purchase movies?

Sorry about all the questions, but I can’t help but wonder how much longer home video collectors like myself will be able to go to go to a Best Buy or Newbury Comics and pick up a copy of their favorite flick. I mean, in the era of online streaming, is this even something people care about?

Tarantino Prefers VHS

By now, streaming’s old news, so why is this on my mind? Well, because of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, of course. Recently, several film websites ran stories about filmmaker excerpts from Tom Roston’s “I Lost It At The Video Store: A Filmmakers’ Oral History of a Vanished Era.” The Pulp Fiction director was among those featured in the book, and what he had to say may shock the Netflix crowd.

“I have a bunch of DVDs and a bunch of videos, and I still tape movies off of television on video so I can keep my collection going,” Tarantino says in the book.

I Lost It At The Video Store – Book Trailer from The Critical Press on Vimeo.

I honestly can’t tell you when I last watched a VHS cassette, but I do still have a sizable collection of tapes. In recent years, for the sake of quality and space, I’ve been replacing VHS copies of films and television shows I can see myself watching again with their superior DVD and Blu-ray counterparts.

I’ll admit, the bulk of my VHS collection is comprised of stuff I taped on a VCR and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons I have no interest in rewatching, but can’t part with for nostalgic reasons.

What Makes A Film Worthy?

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes me want to spend the rest of my life with a particular movie and add it to my personal collection. For me, there are a few common factors. Often, films I relate to, make me really laugh or just feel something profound earn a spot on my buy list. Either way, whatever I feel just proves how powerful an art form filmmaking is.

When I think about the movies that made it into my collection, each one seems to come with special memories, such as The Elephant Man. I remember flipping through the channels during my high school years and stumbling upon this David Lynch film and being immediately hooked to the moving story. This black-and-white masterpiece also holds the privilege of being the first movie to make me tear up.

Then, there’s a more recent film like The Dark Knight. I remember leaving the cinema feeling like Chris Nolan just sent me on a lengthy, roller coaster ride of emotions. Seriously, I got into my car and didn’t want to do anything with the rest of my day so I could fully absorb what I just witnessed.

A Peek Inside Some Other Collections

But enough about me. I thought I’d talk to some other home video collectors to get an idea of how extensive their collections are and how they came to be.

My personal collection certainly pales in comparison to that of author and filmmaker Adam Cray, who owns close to 2,000 DVDs and Blu-rays. Escape From New York and Rebel Without A Cause number among the latest additions.

“If a movie has made an impression on me after seeing it theatrically, I’ll usually purchase it,” Cray says. “There are also discs that I’ve bought if I think the movie might be worthy of future reference or study. Then I’ve also bought movies based on nostalgia and/or sentimental value. Insightful bonus features and clean remasters are always extra incentive for a purchase.”

Then, there’s AiPT!’s very own Media Manager David Brooke, who for as far back as I can remember, has been a Galactus-level devourer of movies. However, Brooke is a collector who’s watched his habits evolve with the times.

“My collection is about 200 deep,” Brooke says. “I was an avid collector from junior high school to the end of college. Since then, I’ve sworn off buying too much ‘stuff,’ but I have bought about 10 digital movies since then.”

Brooke’s most recent purchase: Sideways via Amazon Prime Video.

Endangered Species

Brooke’s comment about trying not to buy too many films is certainly something I can relate to. The older I get, space and how I spend my money are factors that influence my purchases. I’ll also admit that adding to my personal collection just isn’t as much of a priority these days. Netflix has a lot to do with that. In addition to a monthly streaming plan, I have discs sent to my home. As a result, I feel the need to prioritize Netflix viewing over watching movies in my collection, as I need to get my money’s worth with my Netflix plans.

This means I have several recently purchased discs, including Her and Moonrise Kingdom, that I haven’t been able to crack open.

I kind of miss the old days, before viewing movies and television shows meant sitting in front of the same computer we use for surfing the Internet. When you purchase a book and finish it, you add it to your bookshelf – it feels like an accomplishment. The same was true of television shows. If you wanted to watch a complete series, you’d buy a box set, watch it, then add it to the collection. Binging on Netflix doesn’t really provide the same badge of honor mentality.

So, despite my Netflix account, I’ll continue to buy movies and television series I like – for as long as they’re still available in physical form. But, I’m also a guy who still buys CDs of albums he likes, so what the heck do I know?

What about you? How big is your movie collection? Will it keep growing, despite the rise of streaming, or shrink as you get older? Let me know in the comment space below!

  • Maherty McFly

    Proud owner of around 200 discs here, slowly still growing. I think collecting is an evolving sport but one with the same basic roots that were laid down in years past. Netflix has changed the game for sure but it’s just the Blockbuster of the digital age. What I mean is, like the video rental stores of yesteryear, the movies you buy to collect are not necessarily the movies you stream at home or would go out and rent. Mostly, streaming or renting is for the novelty of watching something new or something you might never have come across before. Collecting is for the films that are worth watching over and over again. For me, collecting is like a security blanket of entertainment. The movies I buy and hold onto are the ones I come back to most often, ones I want to know where to find when the mood strikes, movies that get better once all of the lines have been memorized and all of the nuances mapped. There’s also something to be said about the physicality of owning a movie. You don’t need wi-fi, you don’t have to rely on a computer or anything more than some type of video player, it’s just there ready to go and waiting for the next time it’s time to watch “The Thing.” As mentioned above, my buying habits have become more modest as space and finances dictate but when I see something that strikes my fancy I still get that can’t-wait-to-unwrap-the-plastic-and-pop-it-in feeling. These days I usually save my spending for the semi-annual Criterion Collection sale which definitely rewards it’s buyers with hi-quality remasters and special features seldom seen anywhere else. A collection is something you pass along as well. It speaks to what matters to a person and how they take in the world. It can reveal personality or lack there of. No matter how small or big, a collection is what you make it.
    Last movies acquired: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Fisher King (Criterion) and The Rock (Criterion).

    • Chris Hassan

      Very well said, Maherty – thanks for commenting! And I agree with it all! I especially relate to the “security blanket” and “what matters to a person” comments. Of those three, I have yet to see The Fisher King, so I’ll add that to my Netflix queue.