One of the most overlooked niches and biggest opportunities in the collecting world might be right in front of your face. There’s a chance you’ve never even considered the possibility until now. It was certainly off my radar screen until recently, and I’m ashamed I didn’t “get it” sooner. No, I’m not talking about NFT’s – FFS, we all know about this. I’m talking about collecting movies and physical media.
You might already have an entire closet full of the hottest future collectibles and not even know it. The more I learn, the more I’m convinced there’s enormous potential for collecting movies in DVD and VHS format. Other physical media too, CDs and cassette tapes, are included in this coming wave. As the detective lieutenant and New York’s finest, John McClane so eloquently said, “Welcome to the party, pal.”
It’s amazing how things play out. World-famous artist Claude Monet worked on a painting for years, and then in a fit of frustration, he would take a knife to his creation and tear it apart. “My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear,” he once said.
What Monet was actually doing to his collection of paintings was dramatically reducing the supply. Some estimate he destroyed over 500 of his own paintings due to his bouts of frustration and self-doubt. I’m sure he didn’t realize it at the time, but he was lighting a match under his artwork’s future values. Monet was arguably the greatest impressionist painter who ever lived, but by diminishing his artwork’s supply, he was exponentially increasing the future values of what survived the slashing.
You see this pattern play out over and over in the collecting world. Baseball cards are a prime example. Topps, the card producer that famously printed the 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card, actually tossed unsold packs of ’52 Topps cards into the Atlantic Ocean because the cards were taking up too much space in a Brooklyn warehouse. And many of the cards that survived the Topps Atlantic Ocean massacre faced an eventual death by getting thrown in the trash by parents while cleaning the house. They were deemed worthless clutter at the time.
Now, Monet paintings sell for $100 million. The 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card was recently sold for over $5 million. Of course, a painting by Monet is perhaps the best example of the Impressionism artform to exist, and Mickey Mantle was one of the greatest baseball players to ever live. Still, you must assume the diminished supply of these items has played a part in the astronomical value increases over the years.
Pouring Gasoline On The Fire
Just as Moms and Dads tossed 1950s Topps baseball cards in the trash while cleaning out the garage, the grandkids of those same parents have been filling dumpsters with DVDs, VHS tapes, cassettes, and CDs for the last ten years. And I have no data of landfill records to back up this claim. I only know from experience. I’ve personally filled trashcans heaping full with my own two hands.
As the trend of streaming movies and music engulfed the world over the last 15 years, most people looked at the drawer full of DVDs as unnecessary forevermore. The disdain for DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs reached an all-time high after realizing you will never need to wire your home living room entertainment system like a g-d Google data center. $80 Monster cables with gold tips and platinum plugs and miles of speaker wire concealed behind the fireplace. This is now history. And good riddance.
There’s no doubt the wireless and streaming age has been a blessing for the home entertainment system setup, maintenance, and semi-annual upgrading. You no longer need to become a master electrician to have a pleasant home movie viewing experience.
Not to mention the actual cost savings of purchasing, say, five DVDs for $80 compared to a $15 monthly Netflix streaming account with thousands of unlimited views and thousands of movie and show titles. The move to streaming movies has made perfect sense.
What makes sense for consumption doesn’t always make sense for collecting. In fact, usually, they are opposing forces. When you hear the masses say, “We no longer need these…” it’s a great time for collectors to take notice.
If you’ve been collecting DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs and kept them in great condition, you should look at these two charts above and smile. Your hypothesis has played out perfectly. A market that was once flooded with supply, much like the unopened 1952 Topps cards stacked in a Brooklyn warehouse, has just been decimated.
I admit to missing the boat on this one. After tossing so many DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs in the trash, I couldn’t see the light. I didn’t see the trend like a true collector, but I do now.
Collecting VHS Movies
So you’ve decided movie collecting might deserve some further thought. As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would say, let me offer these ideas, “For Your Consideration.”
There’s increasing interest in collecting movies in VHS format. Not only the VHS movies themselves but the VHS players. History books identify these VHS players as VCRs, for those who have never actually seen one in action. Instead of explaining why people would want to collect VHS movies, I’d rather share this exchange I found from a Reddit post three years ago. It makes my point perfectly. Collecting movies on VHS is coming back in a big way, and these Redditors are right on top of it.
The Retro Network podcast breaks down collecting movies in VHS format. There’s endless nostalgia to discuss by combining 1980s culture, classic movies, and evolving technology. Anyone who lived through these times will remember the stories, and if you were born after the 80s, it’s your duty to familiarize yourself with one of the best decades in the history of the world. It’s an entertaining podcast I’d recommend checking out.
Collecting Blueray DVD’s
Like I said earlier, some people have been die-hard physical media collectors since day one. While everyone laughed at them and thought they were crazy for buying DVDs you could easily stream with the tap of an iPhone, these collectors could see the long-term potential.
Collecting movies in Blueray DVD format is one of the best ways to begin your physical media collection. The Blueray DVD is an incredibly crisp and clear viewing experience. So is streaming – you might say. The big drawback to streaming 4K is you need the right internet speed to enjoy those clear images. Blueray DVDs require zero bandwidth. It’s always there for you, clear as can be.
What is a Steelbook?
A Steelbook DVD movie comes in a high-quality metal case with premium artwork displayed on the front cover. For collectors, these are especially desirable because they are created in a limited quantity and usually sell-out as fast as they are released to retail vendors. Resale values on eBay list many Steelbook DVDs in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars, depending on the condition and the title.
Collecting Movies With The Criterion Collection
Since 1984, the Criterion Collection has been committed to presenting movies with state-of-the-art restorations and special features for a deeper appreciation of the art of filmmaking.
Purchasing DVDs from the Criterion Collection is a way to guarantee you are buying the movie the way the creators had wished it to be presented. Since their first release of Citizen Kane and King Kong on laserdisc in 1984, the Criterion Collection has been working closely with filmmakers to ensure the preservation of the movie’s original intent and expression.
Naturally, DVDs by the Criterion Collection are some of the most desirable by movie fans and collectors. But not every movie exists from Criterion. The process of getting rights to release the movie can take years. Once film owners grant Criterion the rights to release a movie, they begin their work and eventually distribute the DVD. Buying Criterion DVDs is another excellent way to begin collecting movies.
What Inning Are We In?
While fractional ownership and investing platforms such as Rally have featured Nintendo and Playstation games for investment, they have yet to feature original DVDs and VHS tapes. With values skyrocketing for certain rare titles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this offered on a fractional share platform in the near future.
There’s a possibility that collecting movies is a wave that is just beginning to form and still miles from shore. Investors love to ask the question, “What inning are we in?” while contemplating a recent trend or phase in markets. Don’t panic; if you’re interested in collecting movies, VHS, DVDs, cassettes, and compact disks, there are only two outs in the top of the first inning.