Mid-Week Poll: The Box Set Dilemma

Recently, I found myself contemplating a purchase of the ‘Jurassic Park Trilogy‘ on Blu-ray. Many retailers, including Amazon, have marked the box set down to less than half of its original MSRP. This seems like a good deal, except for one problem. I have no desire to own or ever watch the two sequels in the set, even at a reduced price. I have the same problem with the ‘Lethal Weapon Collection‘ (I only want the remastered transfers for the first two films) and other franchise sets. What do you do when you face this dilemma?

This decision will of course come up again later in the year with the releases of the ‘Indiana Jones Collection‘ and the ‘Bond 50‘ box sets. In both cases, the only way to obtain previously-unavailable titles in the respective series is to purchase a complete collection, even though I already own some of the titles. I really want the first three ‘Indiana Jones’ movies, but I’m not happy about having to rebuy another copy of ‘Crystal Skull’. (Isn’t it bad enough that I already have one?) Likewise, as a dedicated James Bond fan, I dutifully collected all 13 of the Blu-rays that were released in 2008 and 2009. Then MGM ran out of money and halted the line with nine movies still to go. If I want those remaining nine titles, I’ll have to get the 50th Anniversary box set that contains all 22 films.

Or I can wait, and hope that the individual movies will be broken out and released separately later. The danger in this, unfortunately, is that sometimes studios don’t split up the titles in a box set. It’s been nearly two years since the ‘Back to the Future Trilogy‘ box came out, and Universal has shown no interest in breaking up the set. Likewise, while some of the ‘Star Trek’ movies are available individually, others can still only be obtained in box set form.

I decided to wait it out for separate releases of the original ‘Jurassic Park’ and the first two ‘Lethal Weapon’ movies. I’m not such a die-hard fan of either of those franchises that I desperately need to own them right away. ‘Indiana Jones’ and especially James Bond will be much harder to resist.

How do you handle situations like this?

Do You Buy Box Sets Even If You Don't Want All the Movies?

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  1. Alex

    My big complaint with the 007 set (which, admittedly, I will probably buy as I only have 4 of them on Blu-ray already), is that they keep making James Bond movies. Now, no matter what, I’m going to have some that aren’t in the set. I’d be okay if the set were coming out in between Bond actors, but my Daniel Craig collection is going to be divided. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    • Alex

      That being said, I voted “It depends…” I’ll gladly get the Indy set (I liked Crystal Skull more than most people), but I will continue to hold off on Jurassic Park until the first one is released separately.

      And I refuse to buy any set that includes Star Trek 1 or Star Trek 5. Seriously, I bought the trilogy (2,3,4) and then bought Undiscovered Country individually.

        • Alex

          My jaw is literally hanging open in shock, Josh. Literally. IV may be a little heavy-handed at times, but the very idea of doing a Star Trek “fish-out-of-water” comedy is delightful. And are you telling me you don’t howl with laughter at the very mention of “De Nuclear Wessels?”

          • Barsoom Bob

            Agreed, Star Trek: TMP is a much better movie than IV. It was real science speculation and had some very nice production values. That one and Wrath are about the only two I can rewatch now.

          • William Henley

            Five was awful. As a kid growing up, 4 was my favorite, but as an adult, I am with Josh, TMP is superior to TVH. Not saying 4 is bad, I actually REALLY like it, and it is REALLY funny, but TMP is superior. As far as the Original cast is concerned, in my opinion, the list of movies, from best to worst, is as follows:
            6: The Undiscovered Country
            3: Search for Spock
            1: The Motion Picture
            4: The Voyage Home
            2: Wrath of Khan
            5: Final Fronteir

            Yes, not only is Wrath of Khan NOT my favorite, but I put it below every other Star Trek film except for 5, 9 and 10 (OMG, I have no issue putting 9 and 10 in the same category as 9, they were just BAD).

        • EM

          ST;TMP is a vastly underrated gem. Ever since the theatrical cut became available, I think I watch it more than any other Trek feature, even my longtime favorite Wrath of Khan.

          Heck, I’d even go so far as to say that the frequently reviled Star Trek V is a better movie than IV. V certainly has its flaws, but its spirit is in the right place. It’s goofy, but it doesn’t pander like IV does.

          • Alex

            I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I really can’t.

            TMP is an bloated, overblown, pretentious, boring mess. Every single change that Nicholas Meyer introduced in Khan was welcome. Meyer understood the “Hornblower in Space” theme of Trek better even than Rodenberry himself.

            And Final Frontier…. is a bloated, overblown, pretentious, boring mess!! The entire thing reeks of Shatner’s ego run wild. The themes are murky at best. The acting is feeble. The continuity issues are rampant, and I refuse to believe that “nuclear wessels” can be unfunny and that “row, row, row your boat” can in some way be endearing.

          • Josh Zyber

            You can read my reviews of the Blu-rays to get my full defense of TMP and pan of The Voyage Home.

            I love Wrath of Khan as much as the next Trekkie, but that wasn’t a case of Nicholas Meyer understanding the “Hornblower in Space” theme. It’s a case of Meyer inventing that theme, which was not present in the franchise before his change of direction. As great a movie as it is, Wrath of Khan is responsible for changing Trek into an action series rather than a science fiction series.

            TMP is the only Trek feature film to represent Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for the franchise, which was old-fashioned speculative fiction about ideas rather than just phaser battles. It’s no coincidence at all that Roddenberry hired Robert Wise, director of The Day the Earth Stood Still, to helm the movie.

          • Alex

            Seriously, Spock has a hithertofore unknown brother that somehow EVERYONE forgot to mention? The whole thing plays like bad fan-fiction.

          • EM

            Wessels could be funnier if only Russian had a W-sound and no V-sound, but in fact it‘s quite the opposite…at least in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

            TMP does have bloat in that it sometimes lingers too long on SFX shots that are beautiful and striking but, in many cases, unclear. (I get it: the insides of the Vejur cloud are big and strange!) But it takes the subject matter seriously—as Bob says above, it’s real science speculation—and it does have humor and a sense of adventure, even if both are often a little more contemplative than visceral. Spock’s “this simple feeling” moment, for instance, is tremendous drama even though understated.

            As for The Final Frontier (Star Trek V), I agree that it is bloated, overblown, and pretentious…but I don’t and can’t find it boring. Agree with “Shatner’s ego run wild”—one might even say “Hornblower run wild”. I think the themes are pretty clear; this is not a subtle script. The acting is generally sufficient. The continuity issues that some people take issue with are overblown. For the example you cite: actually, there’s already quite the history of tremendous Vulcan secrecy regarding family matters (did Spock ever mention betrothal before “Amok Time”?). Another continuity problem a lot of people have is in the deck numbering, but there had already been inconsistency about this before ST:V.

            The Final Frontier tries to be a fun Star Trek adventure about the human condition, and for me it succeeds, even if it does so somewhat in the Plan 9 mold. On the other hand, I find Star Trek IV flawed in its very conception. It, like III, tries to undo a previous film’s dramatic change to the ongoing mythos; unlike III, IV implies there’s really no cost in doing so. I think IV makes its humor central, which I think is a mistake—especially since I do think a lot of the humor falls flat. Sorry.

        • Mike Attebery

          This reminds me, when can we see your reviews of ‘Star Trek: First Contact’
          ‘Star Trek: Insurrection’
          ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’?

  2. August Lehe

    I break my own rules constantly…I bought Bond’s 1,2, and 3 (stopped at GOLDFINGER, but might consider a boxed set later)…I jumped for the Johnny Weismuller Tarzans in the Laser days set of the first five Tarzans. After Margaret O’Sullivan left as ‘Jane.’ I dropped out, too!

  3. EM

    I chose Depends. (Er…) It really varies according to what’s being offered, what’s new to me, and what it costs. To take the Trek example: I waited for a while for the prices to come down on the six-film set. Of the six films, there were only four that I ever wanted in my collection (which I had already acquired on DVD); of those four, there were only two I considered compelling titles on Blu-ray; of those two, one (Wrath of Khan) was getting so-so reviews for its transfer, while the other (TMP) was a theatrical cut never before available and not available individually. So, there were a lot of pros (new bonus features included) and cons to consider.

    Another box set I’ve bought is Back to the Future. Really, I consider only the first film necessary. But I didn’t mind buying the whole set because I do like the sequels (albeit less), and I look upon them as bonus features. It was just a matter of the price being good enough.

    I have more trouble with television series. The tendency to release episodes in packs of one or more seasons has kept me from some classic episodes that are packaged with too many also-rans at a price I can’t swallow.

  4. Count von Count

    When this problem strikes, I just put it on my wishlist for Christmas (that’s how I got Jurassic Park and the Star Wars complete set.

  5. JM

    This is such an uptown problem.

    The quality of the video transfers in these box sets is a far worse issue.

    ‘Jurassic Park’ barely looks HD.

    My only current box set dilemma is ‘Friends.’

    If the remastered 16×9 is brilliant, I don’t know what my price point is.

    • Ian Whitcombe

      Check your TV listings, JM. Local affiliates should be airing HD episodes of the show in syndication.

      Oh, if you’re willing to put some cash into finding out, download a couple of your favourite episodes from ITunes.

        • Josh Zyber

          Seinfeld is owned by Sony, which has basically given up TV-on-Blu. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible (they already have HD masters running in syndication), but it’s a lot less likely than Warner shows like Friends.

  6. Shayne Blakeley

    It depends on the series and the cost. I was foaming at the mouth for BTTF & Alien, and bought both the sets the same day. Same went for Jurassic Park, although I only really cared about the first, the other two were welcome eye candy on blu ray, and I wasn’t going to NOT get them. However, with JP the only reason I picked it up right away was because I had some store credit and it was effectively free, I probably wold have waited otherwise. The Star Trek sets I wanted badly (and again wanted the complete sets even if some are lackluster) but they were cost-prohibitive for a long while. Especially since I felt the need to buy both at the same time, (marathon.) Lethal weapon I want, but can’t bring myself to drop the money on, if I can get the box cheaply, or via swap, cool, but if I end up with 1 and 2 I doubt I’d hunt down the others. The jury is still out on Indy, the trilogy is a no brainer, must must have, but dear God do I not want Crystal Skull in my house. Somehow the mere inclusion of that drops the pricepoint for me. Which is odd since I bought the complete Star Wars saga without batting an eyelash. The more I talk about it the more it seems the real factor for me is when they are released in proximity to my rent being due.

  7. William Henley

    I am going to sell my previous Bonds probably in the next couple of weeks. No reason to have two copies of the movie on the shelf. I should have sold them already.

    There ARE options to get movies individually (and I am not talking about the obvious resorting to piracy). Blockbuster usually breaks up sets, as does Netflix, and at least with Blockbuster, they offer the choice to buy movies that were previous rentals (I think Netflix did at one time, but am unsure if they still do).

    There is an issue with buying from Blockbuster, though. If there are bonus discs, they are usually never included. More and more, the discs sold there are “rental” versions of the movie, meaning that you cannot skip previews, sometimes there is not lossless audio or as many audio tracks, there is usually no bonus features AT ALL, and, while I cannot be for sure, I think some discs are even recompressed. There are at least a couple of discs that I have picked up at Blockbuster that I have thought “surely the video quality can’t be THAT bad on tis movie”. But, as I only buy movies used at Blockbuster in the discount bin that I don’t care too much about (otherwise I would have spent the premium and bought them new or on Amazon), I am not usually that picky. And also, not every previously viewed disc is like that.

    So yeah, there ARE ways to break a boxed set.

    I actually have this issue on a release from this week. Sister Act and Sister Act 2 are in a combo pack. I have NO intrest in the second movie, but as the entire set is only $20, I am not really complaining that I can’t get it without the second movie.

    As for Jurassic Park, I feel your pain. I finally bent and bought the trilogy for $45.

    As for Back To The Future, I like all 3 movies (actually, 3 is my favorite, which surprises many people), so I had no issue with the set there.

  8. My friend refuses to buy Star Trek Blu-rays until he can get it without ST:The Voyage Home which he truly hates. He already has them all on DVD. I’m already own Crystal Skull which was means I will have to choose if I want it again. I have been thinking about getting Jurassic Park but JP2 was junk and I still can’t understand how the T-Rex eat the guy in the bridge as he was pressing the button to close the hatch and then got locked in there

  9. JM

    Since ‘Jurassic Park 4’ is a reboot for a new trilogy, I think I’ll wait for the six set.

  10. I almost always wait for a price drop. Although some series have bad movies, I sometimes enjoy watching them anyway– they are kind of like interesting failures. That’s why I am glad to own all of the Jurassic Park, Alien, Batman, and Superman films, even though I think many of the sequels are poor films. Does this make sense?

  11. As far as crappy prequels/sequels go, I’m actually quite fond of “Crystal Skull”. Compared to “Attack of the Clones”, “Lost Boys: The Tribe” etc, I even consider it a decent movie. No shame in owning it, I guess.

    Then again, I’m a fan of “The Flintstones”, “The Godfather Part III”, “Blues Brothers 2000”, “The Phantom Menace” and “Hook”, so I’m probably in the minority.

  12. Since I’m a happy camper about most movies out there, there are VERY few movies in a series that I dont enjoy enough not to have. So for me most sets are a no brainer to buy. I am a little perturbed about Indy though as I already HAVE Crystal Skull and the set for all 4 isnt as cheap as I was hoping, dont know WHY in the world they are only doing the four and not a trilogy set too for all the people that already bought Cystal Skull, its stupid, but I’m not paying $80 for that set, gonna wait till its a bit cheaper

  13. Alex

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know someone or somewhere that deals in empty box sets? For instance, I have all of Harry Potter movies on individual Blu-Ray. I know there have have been myriad box sets of that series released. Is there anywhere that just sells the boxes themselves into which I could put my discs?

    • Josh Zyber

      Have you tried eBay? I don’t think you’ll find an actual business that does this, but I’m sure people who’ve bought a box set for one or two movies have tried to pawn off the box on eBay.

      • Alex

        I’ve tried, but I haven’t found much. People don’t seem to want to break them down, even though I can’t be the only one wanting this type of thing.

        The DVD of LOTR:ROTK Extended Edition came with a coupon for a free outer box to hold all three together, just like you’d bought the big boxed set. Wish more companies would do that.

        I remember really wanting to switch out my 24 collection for the slim boxes to save on shelf space. Wound up building new shelves instead!

  14. EM

    A Blu-ray box set of Alfred Hitchcock films has just been announced. Of the 15 included films, only 2 have been released to Blu-ray before. I admire Hitchcock, but there are only a small handful of his films that I want in my video library. (He shouldn’t feel bad: I keep my library small by Bonus View standards, and he’s still one of the most represented directors in my collection.) Of the already released Blu-rays, I have what I want; of the rest, I would want at most 2 or 3. There’s just no way I can seriously contemplate shelling out whatever the price of the set will be—or, I’m sure, even half that. I‘ll just have to go without until I can get my remaining wants more affordably…if ever. I can live with that.

  15. Lone_Gunmen

    When the Steelbook of the Region 4 release of the Indiana Jones trilogy came out, I bought it, even though it was 35 dollars more than the set containing the fourth, just because I hated it that much.

  16. EM

    The newly unveiled Universal Classic Monsters Blu-ray box set is going to be quite a test of patience, resolve, and priorities for me…unless the set is offered dirt cheap, of course!

    • Barsoom Bob

      For archival and refrence purposes, a very sweet set indeed for us Famous Monsters of Filmland fans.

      Rumor has it that the Creature From the Black Lagoon disc has the 3D version, but it will probably be anaglyph, UGH.

      I would have prefered they substitued Werewolf of London for the Creature and then gave the Creature the modern, Full HD 3D treatment.

      I can think of an oldies 3D set that would be good, House of Wax, Murders in the Rue Morgue and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I have actually seen these all in 3D in theaters and they are native 3D not post converted. Does anybody know any other older 3D horror movies ?

      • EM

        The Creature 3D is not merely a rumor, at least if the Digital Bits is to be believed (I have found that they usually are). However, I don’t know what 3D tech is being used.

        Werewolf of London would have increased the value of the set for me, as would have The Raven (1935) and Son of Frankenstein. And I was a little disappointed that the Phantom of the Opera on this set is the 1943 version, not the Lon Chaney movie, even though there was a release (troubled, I hear) of the Chaney film last year. But I don’t expect a box set to be tailored to me. The set as is includes some films which might be classics but aren’t needed in my collection. I’m glad the set is being available, but for me it might be worth waiting for releases of individual movies.

      • EM

        Oh, and to answer your question: 1950s 3D horror movies also include Revenge of the Creature (sequel to Creature From the Black Lagoon) and It Came From Outer Space.