‘BTTF’ Now Available in Less Awful Packaging

Ever since the ‘Back to the Future‘ trilogy was released on Blu-ray back in October, the quality of its video transfer has been hotly debated by fans. Some think it looks terrific, while others think it looks too “processed.” One thing most everyone has agreed on is that the Blu-ray packaging that Universal put the discs in was pretty terrible. Fortunately, a modified version of the box set has finally started to trickle out into retail. Now, you just need to be careful that you buy the right one.

What was so bad about the original box set packaging? Primarily, it had an overly-complicated disc hub design that made prying the discs out very difficult. It’s so convoluted, you need instructions (not included with purchase) to use the damn thing. Many owners reported accidentally breaking the hubs off in the attempt. Some copies came damaged right from the factory. A lot of fans were so bothered by this that they went to the extra trouble and expense of importing the UK Blu-ray edition, which had more stable packaging.

Three months have passed, and Universal has apparently listened to complaints. Newer copies hitting the retail stream have been revamped with a more user friendly disc hub design. The problem now is making sure that you buy the right one, because the case art and UPC number are otherwise identical.

How do you tell the difference? Newer cases are slightly taller and slightly thicker. Most noticeably, the slipcover over the case should have a new, giant UPC sticker on top of the original UPC. It’s the same number, but significantly larger. You can’t miss it once you know what to look for.

Online shopping is going to be difficult. Reports are that some recent orders from Amazon have shipped the new case, but others have continued to ship the old case. What you get may depend on how they’re stocked and which distribution center they ship from.

Shopping at brick and mortar retail is probably going to be a safer bet, since you can personally inspect the package before you put down any money. I popped into Best Buy last night and found two copies of the new case mixed in with about a dozen copies of the old version. Unfortunately, Best Buy charges $15 more for the box set than Amazon’s current price. (Luckily, I still had a gift card left over from Christmas.)

Buyer beware on this, but at least a better package is available for those willing to seek it out.


  1. It would be nice if Universal offered a trade-in program. I watched 1 and 2, and almost broke 2 trying to get it out of the case. I am scared to death to even try getting 3 out of the case – plastic projectiles from broken discs are dangerous!

  2. Ivan Gomez

    The Mexico version of the set does not includes the digital copies, thus making very easy to remove the discs as it only has 3. On a related note, buying blus in Mexico can be A LOT more expensive than in US…

  3. Yeah, even with the instructions, they’re still a bitch to get out. Universal always seems to try these crazy new ways to package discs (remember the Battlestar Galactica Season 1 debacle?) every time they have a big new multi-disc release. There was no reason to reinvent the wheel (or the hub, as the case may be)!

    • That is why it paid for me to have an HD-DVD player – got BSG season 1 for $10 new, and they used standard cases. Sadly, I can’t stand the case for Star Trek Season 1 on HD-DVD – I got it new, and it was cracked before I opened it. As it was HD-DVD, there was a no-return policy. Discs are annoyingly double-sided, and I actually have one disc that can’t play one episode on the HD-DVD side, have to flip it and play the DVD side.

      Point is, it doesn’t matter how careful you are with your discs if bad packaging destroys your discs for you.

  4. Brian Haney

    that makes me mad, just got this for christmas, watched number 3 today and all the little tabs broke. I actually hate the package, im crossing my fingers they will have some sort of trade in or just send a empty version of new box.

  5. Bumbuliuz

    I was happy to get the European one and missing out of the digital discs. Thankfully this seems to be an American thing go bundle those discs with.

  6. Christian

    Pardon my french, but are you people retarded? The packaging is really not that complicated. You grab the disc at the center, as you would with any disc, and pull it downwards against the plastic springy arc, until you can lift it past the two tabs at the top. Voilà. No excessive force or breaking of any kind required.