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How to Build Up a Physical Film Collection

5 min read

Amy Smith shares her guide how you can build up your Physical Film Collection

In a digital age where many films that we love can be found with a click of the remote, many of us still rely on to get our movie kick. There are still many perks with the physical media that make us purchase a copy rather than relying on our subscription services. Firstly, it is never guaranteed that a streaming service will keep a film on their platform forever, especially at this stage where studios are buying back the rights to their film of their own exclusive platform. That is another issue we are having right now: there are so many subscription services that it is becoming expensive to even own them all just for the sake of choices.

When you own a physical release of a film, you own it for good. This has been a debate recently with online services, with Apple claiming that even though you buy a movie on iTunes you don't necessarily own the film for good. Plus, with the physical media, you are likely to get more than just the film for the price, as the version of the film you get may come with bonus content – on the disc and beyond the packaging. This post is going to be a guide as to how you can build up your collection.

How to Save Money

We all know that building up a physical collection can be expensive, so it is always good to look at how to save money and get some great movies for cheap prices. Here are some tips that I use when I am making a purchase.

Choosing a Shop

The shop that you choose to look through will make all of the difference when spending money on your physical media. If you are not too worried about getting a second-hand edition of a film, the best places to go are your local charity shops. Not only are you giving your money to a worthy cause, but the prices are extremely cheap, and you never know what goodies you will find.

If you are in the UK, I would also highly recommend visiting CEX, a dedicated second-hand shop for DVDs, video games and technology. Their range is quite strong for a second-hand shop and there have been many times where I have walked in for a look around and ended up leaving with big purchases. Recently, I went in and bought a total of nine films including a Danny Boyle boxset, Nightcrawler, and Mad Max: Fury Road and I had only spent £13. That is what I call a bargain.

Waiting for Sales

If you do not mind waiting to get a hold of the newest films, the best way on saving money is to wait for the inevitable sales. Amazon recently had their Prime Day discounts, and people were able to get a hold of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in 4K for less than a tenner. HMV also does a lot of sales throughout the years, including on special ranges such as the Criterion Collection. Having a Two for £15 deal on these sorts of films can save you a lot of money if you are patient enough to wait for it.

The Best Editions to Own

When getting physical editions of the films I love, I want to get the best version possible. Whilst I am not somebody that is bothered about a second-hand copy, I have a very particular way of buying my physical media and focusing on special editions of some of my favourite films. If you want to get the best quality for your money, here is what I would recommend getting.


Boxsets are some of the best ways to complete a film collection, as all of the hard work is done for you. Whilst these may appear to be expensive, usually it is the cheapest way of owning a full set of movies as well as making sure they are all of the same quality. If it is a continuous series, I also like to wait until the series is complete so I have a full boxset, also making the price cheaper down the road.

In particular, I love collecting boxsets dedicated to one director. One of my prized possession is my Blu-Ray Hitchcock collection, which I actually got discounted due to my HMV loyalty card at the time. This is a stunning boxset that not only gives a wide selection of films from the director but adds touches such as the movie posters, bonus content and further information about each film on the packaging itself. These boxsets are definitely worth the investment.


Steelbooks are certainly not going to be for everyone, and not every film gets released in this style of casing. However, whenever I want to splash out some money, I will happily buy a film in a steelbook format. This hard casing is more durable than the standard packaging, and a lot more time goes into the design making the aesthetic look beautiful. Because of the price and work that goes into producing a steelbook, you are also guaranteed to get either a Blu-Ray and/or 4k disc included, and there is a lot of bonus content that comes included.

To name only a few, I want to highlight some great steelbooks I have collected recently. At CEX, I managed to grab a steelbook of the entire Hunger Games franchise for only £13, and the steelbook came with a magnet. When I got some of my first ever steelbooks, La La Land and A Star is Born (2018), I received postcards with both of them. Of course, there was also the Zavvi exclusive edition of Avengers: Endgame that not only came with the steelbook, but a set of enamel pins, a light-up box, some posters and a lot of bonus content on the disc itself. I am very happy with my collection of steelbooks, and I will continue investing in purchasing more over the next few years.

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