Should you unbox your DVDs and Blu-Rays?

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When to tear the shrink wrap off your DVDs.


Every collector dreams of one day owning that one holy grail worth millions of dollars. And what collection is more ubiquitous to all of us than our DVD and Blu-ray collections?

This isn’t our first rodeo when it comes to this question. In the past, we’ve weighed the pros and cons of unboxing Funko Pop! figures and Amiibo. But DVDs and Blu-ray collections present their own unique problems. What DVDs are worth more than others? Do DVDs lose value if we take off the shrink-wrap? Heck, are our favorite movies even worth anything? There’s a lot to unpack here, but we’re here to put your mind at ease.

Before you decide if you want a mint DVD collection or not, consider the following points:

Cold reality: most of your DVDs probably aren’t worth much.

DVD VHS Collection

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear here: the value of your collection to you often doesn’t reflect its monetary value. Epic, classic movies that make us laugh and cry can run the same price on the second hand market as whatever Uwe Boll made in the same year. You could have a DVD collection that reflects a true artisan’s tastes… but that doesn’t mean it’s worth a lot.

DVDs are old enough now to be classified as “vintage,” which means there’s a vibrant second hand market out there for collectors. But a collectible’s value primarily depends on three factors: its scarcity, the demand for it, and its historical value. Fact of the matter is, most DVDs for big movies were produced in high enough volume that the demand for them never exceeds their quantity. Even in mint condition, you can find classic films from the 90s for about $5 on eBay.

In other words, in the majority of cases, it probably doesn’t matter if you open your DVDs or not. But that isn’t to say there aren’t any valuable movies in your collection.

How to identify a valuable DVD or Blu-ray.

IT Steelbook

Here’s the thing: there are valuable DVDs and Blu-rays out there. And believe it or not, they aren’t that hard to identify either. If you think your DVD and Blu-rays might be too valuable to unwrap, ask yourself if they meet the following criteria:

  • Limited Edition: This is possibly the most important factor. Valuable collectibles are all about supply and demand, and nothing drives demand up like a limited supply. Now, “collector’s edition” and “limited edition” can be a misnomer, especially if it’s a rerelease of a movie already in circulation. But if there’s a limited edition of a movie that’s going into print for the first time, it might appreciate in value down the line.
  • SteelBook Case: SteelBook cases are the Achilles Heels of collectors. They feel nice, they look nice, and they’re usually distributed in limited quantity. In other words, they tick all the boxes of what a collector wants. This is the audience you’d want to sell too, and they’d value a box’s condition more than average buyers.
  • Extravagant Collector’s Edition: Ironically, sometimes the most valuable part of a DVD or Blu-ray is the stuff that comes with it. We discussed in the past how the robust Blade Runner Ultimate Collector’s Edition shot up in price fivefold, and the same is true of other huge collectors editions. You can make a return on collector’s editions even if they’re used!
  • Box Sets: Complete series sets of TV Shows or anime already cost a pretty penny. In fact, anime box sets in general hold their value well, especially for niche shows that go out of print. Getting a sought-after box set with all the parts intact is a dream come true for many collectors.

In the end, is it worth it?

Batman Box Set

With all that established, we unfortunately need to have another reality check. Even if you own the rarest DVD ever in mint condition, you won’t be making even close to Action Comics #1 levels of money.

An often-cited “holy grail” of DVDs is the white-ring Criterion issue of the 1975 movie Silo. And even here, we’re talking about a movie worth $400. Sure, that’s a good chunk of change for one movie, and the value can continue to rise in the future. But is $400 worth holding onto a movie and never enjoying it for decades, especially when a used copy is still worth 50-75% of the mint copy’s value? And that’s assuming the disc you’ve lovingly taken care of becomes a holy grail!

As with many collectibles, it probably isn’t worth keeping your movies boxed or shrink wrapped in hopes of turning a profit in the future. However, that shouldn’t stop you from keeping a collection of mint movies if you take pride in it. DVDs and Blu-rays make for excellent, space efficient collectibles. And with the rise of streaming services and digital movie collections, you might not even need to open your favorite movies. Besides, even if you don’t make a ton of money off your limited collector’s edition box set, you’ll certainly earn the envy of friends and fellow collectors alike.

In conclusion, should you unbox and unwrap your DVDs and Blu-rays? Yes, enjoy those films you’ve spent your hard earned money on… unless you would enjoy them more if they’re in mint condition on a shelf.

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