Frodo: What’s in this?
Sam: Nothin…just a bit of seasoning. I thought maybe if we was having a roast chicken one night or something.
Frodo: Roast chicken?
Sam: You never know!
Frodo: Sam…my dear Sam.
Sam: It’s very special, that. It’s the best salt in all the Shire.
I have loved movies for just about as long as I can remember, but as I’ve gotten older I have become more and more interested in the physical aspect of owning my favorite movies. To me, there is something special about opening the case and physically putting the movie in to watch. There is something to be said for having a physical collection of something you are passionate about. It feels so much more special than simply clicking through Netflix looking for something to watch.
Most home media releases nowadays are pretty basic. No matter if you’re buying a DVD, Blu-ray, or 4K UHD, you’re probably going to get a plastic case with standard artwork and not much else. What I’m more interested, though, are the special releases…the STEELBOOKS, the Digibooks, the Digipaks, and the special edition slipboxes.
As far as brands go, The Criterion Collection is head and shoulders above everyone else in producing outstanding movie packages. While other studios may have a special release every now and then, every single Criterion release is sure to stand out from the crowd. Disney is pretty good as well, with a number of their recent releases getting collectible STEELBOOK releases. However, they are usually fairly limited so if you miss the release then you are most likely out of luck.
NOTE: Each gallery can be enlarged in order to see all the detail in each picture.
The Princess Bride
I just recently purchased the Criterion Collection edition of “The Princess Bride”. It is an absolutely stunning release for a classic film. The cover is cloth bound, and with a nearly 50 page booklet it truly feels like you are holding a book when you pick it up. The booklet itself has some incredible artwork depicting some of the more famous lines and scenes from the film. This release is a true masterpiece.
Another entry from the Criterion Collection, this time from one of my favorite Wes Anderson movies, “Moonrise Kingdom”. The attention to detail with regard to the bonus materials in this release is unbelievable. For starters, there is a cast portrait, with each actor shown in character. Next, there is a map of New Penzance, the island where the majority of the movie takes place. Finally, what is probably my favorite item, the Indian Corn magazine. Inside is an abundance of information about the movie as well as content that is identical to what Scout Master Ward (Ed Norton) is shown reading during the film.
Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
And now for something a little different. Not a Criterion release this time, and not a single film. This release is a variation on a Digibook where the discs are inside the actual pages. The artwork is beautiful and encapsulates the style of the films perfectly. Each time I open it I feel like I’m Indy himself looking through some ancient tome for a clue that might easily be missed. Unfortunately, the day is soon coming when this release will no longer be the “Complete Adventures”.
The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition Trilogy
This may be the most “normal” entry on this list, but it is still one of my favorites. The outer slipbox is sturdy and a beautiful metallic gold color with a magnetic front cover. The inside of the front cover has a map of Middle Earth which I have actually referenced this map while watching the movies before. While the Criterion releases have a large focus on bonus materials, this LOTR release is all about the on-disc extras. Each film in this release includes five discs, three of which are exclusively dedicated to bonus features. If you were to watch all three films and included bonus featured, it would literally take you over 37 hours. Simply put, this set is a behemoth.
Now, for the only STEELBOOK on this list. The artwork here tells the story of the film in such a beautiful way. On the front cover is Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar surrounded by several flowers including the Mexican Marigold, the “flower of the dead”. The back cover is a zoomed in look at the guitar on the front, but it is necessary to see the ridiculous intricacies of the art. We can see Mama Imelda, Abuelita, the Ernesto de la Cruz memorial, and so much more. A movie as beautiful as “Coco” absolutely deserves beautiful artwork like this.