Weekend Roundtable: First Movies You Purchased

As the saying goes, you never forget your first time. Let’s take a trip down Home Video Memory Lane in this week’s Roundtable. What was the first Blu-ray disc you purchased after getting a Blu-ray player? How about your first DVD? If you’d like, we’ll also include VHS, Laserdisc, or any other video formats you may have acquired over the years.

Josh Zyber

While I had a bunch of VHS tapes back in the day, they were mostly stuff I’d recorded off the air. I didn’t start to think of myself as a serious videophile until college, when I had access to a Laserdisc player as part of my work-study job. Because I was a poor college student, I couldn’t afford to buy movies at the time. Fortunately, there was an LD rental shop with a great selection just off campus. The first discs I rented were a double-bill of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘In the Line of Fire’, both letterboxed to their full 2.35:1 aspect ratios, which was unheard of on VHS. I was immediately hooked.

After graduation, the future Mrs. Z bought me my own Laserdisc player for Christmas. I remember making a trip out to the (now-defunct) Lechmere store at the Cambridgeside Galleria in Boston, where I picked up copies of ‘Short Cuts’ and ‘In the Name of the Father’ on sale.

When the DVD revolution came, like most people who were part of it, my first DVD purchase was ‘Blade Runner’. Although many of the early DVDs were barely distinguishable from Laserdisc (and often worse), this one was frequently cited as a notable improvement over the hazy LD transfer. Watching on my 27″ TV, I agreed at the time. Revisiting that same disc years later revealed it to be a digital compression nightmare that’s unwatchable on a large screen. It’s amazing how our standards have risen.

During the high-def format war, I was an immediate early adopter of both formats at release. After receiving my HD DVD player, I had to call around to all the local Best Buy stores until I found one that had a copy of ‘Serenity‘ in stock. I then received the other launch titles (‘The Last Samurai‘, ‘Million Dollar Baby‘ and [gag] ‘The Phantom of the Opera‘) as review screeners soon afterwards. Although a couple of these titles (namely ‘Samurai’ and ‘Phantom’) I would never have chosen to own otherwise, the discs certainly all looked great.

As many here will recall, the Blu-ray product launch was pretty much a gigantic clusterfuck out of the gate. I picked up my first player (the total p.o.s. Samsung BD-P1000, absurdly priced at $999) at Best Buy on Day 1, along with a selection of those notoriously terrible-looking launch titles like ‘The Fifth Element‘ and ‘House of Flying Daggers‘. The best disc of the initial wave was ‘The Terminator‘, which was virtually indistinguishable in quality from the DVD edition upconverted. What a total disaster! Blu-ray looked like it was doomed. It took almost a year for the format to turn itself around. Fortunately, it eventually did. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I’m not really sure why I remember this more than twenty-seven years later, but when my family first dove into Laserdisc in 1984, our first two titles were ‘Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn’ and a Fonzie-hosted PSA called ‘Strong Kids, Safe Kids’. The PSA about child abuse/abduction was my father’s way of trying to justify buying that Pioneer LD-700 (which…again, why do I remember that?). Y’know, so he could say that he shelled out all that cash for the kids. ‘Strong Kids, Safe Kids’ turned out to be one of the most jaw-droppingly ridiculous things ever, and there are excerpts of it floating around on YouTube if you want to bask in its glory. I can’t guess why my dad grabbed up ‘Metalstorm’ out of every movie that was on Laserdisc at the time, but if you were look at my own movie collection all these years later, you can kind of tell that it runs in the family.

My other firsts aren’t all that interesting. Back in the glory dot-com days of 1999, I started buying DVDs several months before I picked up a player, just because they were so absurdly cheap. I think I had twenty-something discs before my first DVD player showed up in the mail. My first two were ‘Cube’ and ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’. I’d just recently rented ‘Cube’ on VHS and really dug it. And ‘Austin Powers’…I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

My first HD DVD was ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, and… No, no, hear me out. I bought the very first HD DVD player that was out there. Only three titles were available on Day One, and none of the stores around me had ‘Serenity’. So, my choices were limited to ‘Phantom of the Opera’ or ‘The Last Samurai’. More than five years later, I’ve still never watched more than a couple minutes of the movie.

The first Blu-ray disc I watched was ‘Casino Royale‘, although I had ‘Immortal Beloved‘ in the mail to me before then. I’ll let you count whichever one you want as the first. No real stories there; just “Oh, I should watch that.” I might’ve thought ‘Immortal Beloved’ was about vampires rather than Beethoven, but I probably shouldn’t admit to that.

Tom Landy

I was one of the early adopters for DVD back in the day, when the players cost upwards of $700 and the selection of titles was only about fifty or so (at least here in Canada anyway). I kinda knew the manager at the store, so when I bought the machine, he said that I could pick any three movies I wanted. I remember picking ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’, and ‘Goodfellas’. I actually had never seen any of them before and unintentionally kicked off one of the most ultra-violent weekends I’ve ever had.

On the high-definition front, I owned an HD-DVD player first. It came with ‘300‘ and ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift‘ in the box. I’m not sure why exactly, but I also ended up buying ‘Disturbia‘ at the same time.

I didn’t get my Blu-ray player until a couple of years later. I don’t believe that player came with any movies (although it might have had some mail-in offers). I remember that my first Blu-ray was ‘Apocalypto‘, because I’d heard that it had great audio and video quality, and I wasn’t disappointed. When I upgraded to 3D, my package deal came with ‘Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – 3D‘, ‘Coraline – 3D‘, and ‘Avatar – 3D‘. However, I already had ‘A Christmas Carol – 3D‘ that I picked up about a month prior for a really great price.

Nate Boss

I can’t remember which VHS I first bought, but I know that my first DVDs were ‘Dogma’ and ‘Mallrats’. Obviously, back then I didn’t think Kevin Smith was as much of a whiny, loud mouthed hypocritical attention whore hack as I do now. My first HD DVD was ‘Batman Begins‘, because it wasn’t on Blu-ray at the time, while my first Blu was ‘Pearl Harbor‘. Yes, that ‘Pearl Harbor’. I didn’t see it in theaters or on DVD, and I said screw it, since I like WWII movies so much. That, and it was financed by my Christmas bonus check (along with the Playstation 3 to watch it on), so it wasn’t all that much of a risk.

M. Enois Duarte

When DVD released in the summer of 1997, I was an immediate adopter. I bought my first player for around $400 – a Toshiba that a friend of mine still uses to this day. I remember the selection being limited to IMAX features and a few titles from Warner Bros., and I recall my very first purchase being ‘Twister’ because I really wanted to try out the surround sound. By the end of the year, there were tons more to choose from, so I remember picking up ‘Austin Powers’. When DVD drives were released the following year, I also upgraded my PC immediately. My library quickly grew with ‘Dark City’, ‘Blade’ and a few others.

With the introduction of high-definition video discs, I made the jump fairly quickly as well. You can read about my HD DVD experience here. As for Blu-ray, I was a bit slower in accepting the format since early results were honestly garbage. I eventually bought a PlayStation 3 in November 2006 when things started to look more promising. Although I mostly rented discs from Netflix at first, I remember my first disc purchases were ‘Black Hawk Down‘, ‘Monster House‘ and the terrible, now-discontinued ‘Fifth Element’ BD. A couple months later, it grew with ‘Pearl Harbor’ (for the audio quality, I swear!), ‘Open Season‘ and ‘The Prestige‘. Since then, the library has grown incredibly large, and Blu-ray is finally revealing its true potential.

Luke Hickman

When I bought my DVD player, I also purchased ‘Contact’, ‘Starship Troopers’ and ‘Sphere’. If I’m not mistaken, there was some sort of deal if you bought three titles with the player. The same went for Blu-ray. I got my PS3 from Target. If you bought two Sony Blu-rays, they gave you a $50 gift card on your way out, so I bought ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Across the Universe‘.

Mike Attebery

My family didn’t get a VCR until much, much later than a lot of folks. We used to rent huge VHS machines from the video rental stores. They came in big plastic suitcase-style housings. Actually, in New Mexico, they used to come in actual suitcases stuffed with foam. When we moved to Massachusetts, we finally bought our own player. The first movie I got was the VHS release of ‘Home Alone’. That tape got played plenty.

My first DVD was ‘Austin Powers’, and my first Blu-ray was ‘Casino Royale’.

Ah, memories! Tell us in the Comments about the first movies you bought for each video format you’ve owned.


  1. Alex

    1st Blu-ray: The Fugitive
    1st DVD: Crimson Tide
    1st VHS: Don’t remember but my family had The Wizard of Oz for an awfully long time.

  2. Josh Zyber

    I watched that Strong Kids, Safe Kids clip that Adam linked to, and I think I may never get that disturbing “Proper Word” song out of my head. Egads!

    • The one good thing about that is that, in the related videos, it had a link to Cartoons to the Rescue! I had forgotten about that show! I remember as a kid, being so excited when they announced it was coming on, because it had all my favorite cartoon characters in it. It also showed on all three of the major networks, so I recorded it off of NBC and CBS. I was so disappointed when I found out it was a 30 minute long (no commercials) Public Service Announcement!

      And please, don’t let creepy guys in overalls tell you that you can see a girls V…. when she stands there naked. Yeah, that clip was scary!

  3. Barsoom Bob

    First almost complete movie I bought, was a super 8, four part version of “Seventh Voyage of Sinbad”

    First VHS was David Lynch’s “Dune” for almost $90 in the mid eighties. This was before the studios got hip to sell thru pricing. Probably followed by “Debbie Does Dallas” LOL

    First DVD might have been “Fifth Element” It was one of my first and favorites.

    First HD-DVD was “King Kong”, it was packed in with the HD-DVD drive for my X-Box 360.

    “The Prestige” was the movie that made me go out and buy a blu-ray player and start collecting in Blu, as the handwriting was already being writ on the wall.

  4. patton was the first vhs i bought. i was 12 and thought it was cool that it came on two tapes.

    my first laserdisc. i wanted a player as a high school graduation present and i was on spring break and found a section of used laserdiscs and i bought the films nuts and gone with the wind so i could sell my mother on the player. it worked. got one.

    my first DVD was batman and robin. i didnt have a dvd player and it just came out and i liked the cover art then a few months later i bought a 800 panasonic dvd player that i still have to this day and i got a free coupon for a dvd and i got as good as it gets.

    when i got my HD-DVD i bought four at the time. serenity , goodfellas , v for vendetta , and the thing.

    and when i went blu i bought four also. serenity , superman returns , quantum of solace and terminator 2.

  5. First Laserdisc was Terminator 2 Special Edition
    First DVDs were The Color Purple, Singin in the Rain and Twister
    First HD DVD was Serenity
    First Blu-ray was Speed
    When I bought my first LD and HD DVD I didn’t even own a player for them 🙂

  6. MGM

    1st VHS : 10

    1st DVD: Jerry McGuire

    1st Blu-Ray: Bought the player at Best Buy and got five free immediately including Rent and Robocop but cant remember the other three.

  7. Jason

    First VHS: pretty sure was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or Rad
    First DVD: Freeway
    First Blu-rays: 300, Dr. No and The Dark Knight

  8. My first Blu-Ray was The Phantom of the Opera. I later rebought it on HD-DVD because of the lack of lossless audio on the BD release.

    My first HD-DVD was Transformers and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    My first DVD was South Park Season 1 Disc 1. I actually bought it about 2 months before I got my DVD player.

    My first Laserdisc was Yanni: Live at the Acropolis

    I don’t remember what my family’s first VHS was, but the first movie I remember buying with my own money was Jurassic Park

  9. Garry


    First VHS – Superman the Movie .. it was time compressed because at the time, they couldn’t fit the whole movie on a VHS

    First Laserdisc – Criterion King Kong – First Laserdisc with Audio Commentary

    First DVD – The Fugitive

    First Blu-Ray – Planet Earth

  10. First VHS – Batman (1989) – I watched this sooooo many times as a kid. Memorized from front to back.

    First DVD – The Matrix – Probably goes without explanation.

    First Blu Ray – 300 – Glad I didn’t end up judging HD off of just this purchase. I was so disappointed with it. I think the review here on High-Def describes my issue with it well.

  11. Brian H

    First VHS I purchased for myself was Braveheart, which was $25 previously viewed at Blockbuster. I’ve never watched or owned that movie on DVD or Blu.

    First DVD was Goldeneye.

    First Blu ray was the 5 disc Bladerunner, which I pre-ordered almost a year ahead of release. I bought it well before buying a blu ray player(Metal Gear PS3) or an hdtv.

  12. Dimwit

    I had found a really cool movie used – Dark City – but it was a few months before I could afford a DVD player. Good thing that the wait was worth it.

    The local video store was closing so I got 3 blu’s for cheap, The Animatrix, Sarah Connor Chronicles and District 9. Again, had to wait for the drive to show up. Seems a trend for me, if it’s cheap enough, I’ll buy it even I can’t use it. *sigh*

  13. Lahrs

    I remember when VHS movies were $120 and renting was the only affordable way to go. Even when prices significantly dropped, I never felt the need to buy a VHS tape.

    For some reason, after watching The Matrix for the first time on DVD, everything changed. I had to have the movie and my days of movie ownership forever changed. For the life of me though, I cannot remember my first Blu-ray purchase.

  14. Adam K

    My first VHS I got with my own money was Point Break.

    My first dvd was Mallrats, Shanghai Noon (Date of Release) and Army of Darkness Limited Edition.

    First HD-DVD was 300

    First Blu Ray was I Am Legend and Blade Runner

  15. VHS has been in our household since 1989 (BetaMax before that). I can’t remember the first videos, although all classic Disneys were already in the collection of my parents. My first “own” VHS was probably “Hook”.

    I bought a (used) Pioneer LaserDisc player in 2005, with the original Star Wars trilogy ($75), Pocahontas CAV ($17) and the My Fair Lady boxset ($8). Gotta love bargains.

    My Toshiba HD-E1 (1080i! I had no idea back then!) came with four free discs (The Chronicles of Riddick, Children of Men, Poseidon and Miami Vice). I sold all of them, minus Children of Men. I only wanted good movies in my collection.

    I bought a Samsung BDP1400, but it couldn’t even play all “Wall-E” bonus features so I sold it. My first Blu-ray was “Spider-Man 3”, which I got for free with my VAIO purchase (which was also my first Blu-ray player, a full year ahead of the aforementioned Samsung). I then bought a quite excellent Onkyo player and a Sony 3D-capable player (although I can’t see 3D).

    My Xbox360 HD DVD drive cost $20 in 2008 (format war had just ended). I don’t have a 360, but the drive is compatible with my VAIO (which makes it format neutral).

    • You know, I think this Roundtable brought up what could be an interesting future Roundtable – when you purchased your TV or players, were movies bundled with it, what were they, and did you ever watch them. I got like 7 movies with my HD-DVD player, and for the life of me, the only ones I remember are Babel, the first Bourne movie, and 300. I traded all the others in on Warner Bros DVD2Blu program – they took HD-DVDs as well

  16. Random Commenter

    I don’t remember my first VHS tape or DVD, but my first Blu-ray was 200: A Space Odyssey and my first HD DVD was The Phantom of the Opera.

  17. I can’t really remember not having a VCR growing up, so I could only guess what our first Vhs purchase was. I know we picked up each Disney cartoon as it became available, and we watched the living hell out of Wizard of Oz, Home Alone, Grease, Batman, Sister Act, Neverending Story and Flight of the Navigator. The first that I remember being specifically mine and not the family’s was Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I got as a gift from my Mom for Easter. The first Dvd I bought was Waking Life, almost a year before I bought a player. The first Blu-Rays I bought were Wanted and Hellboy II (mostly because I needed something right then and there to try it out, and Blockbuster didn’t have much else.) I immediately ordered American Psycho, Final Destination and Freddy vs Jason. I haven’t not had at least one Blu-ray pending delivery ever since.

  18. Clayton

    I got my ps3 for christmas.Along with that I got (sigh)Transformers 2.The first actual disc I ever bought was Sweeney Todd.

  19. i can still remember my first dvd purchase. i actually have it framed now and set aside with other ‘important’ memories in my den.

    the first dvd i ever bought was “queen of the dammed” the old ghetto cardboard case with plastic clasp.

    that movie spawned my addiction and nearly 3,000 dvds later i converted to bluray and refused to buy or watch another standard dvd ever again.

    my first bluray was also a terrible movie.

    “pirates of the carribean at worlds end”

    it had just been released, i had a coupon for it, and my work had it mismarked for $9.99 so my first bluray cost me $4.99 how could you forget that.

  20. Kevin

    VHS- The Real Ghostbusters “The Bird of Kildarby” and other stories.

    DVD- Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, The World Is Not Enough, The Matrix

    HD DVD- Superman Returns, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

    Blu-Ray- Ghost Rider, The Terminator, Premonition

  21. EM

    VHS: My first VCR was a gift from my parents, and with it they gave me a copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not a bad start!

    DVD: When my first purchase of a DVD player was imminent, I decided to buy some actual DVDs so that I’d have stuff to play on it. I ended up owning four DVDs before I actually bought the player. One of them was Psycho, and I think the other three were 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Lost World, and Rollerball. Simultaneously with the purchase of the player I also bought How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. It was January 6, but that didn’t bother me!

    Blu-Ray: I also bought some Blu-ray discs before buying a Blu-ray player, but I bought the first long before the player purchase was “imminent”—before I even decided I would get a Blu-ray player. When Paramount withdrew from the Blu-ray market during the HD DVD–Blu-ray war, I bought a Blu Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, just in case A) Blu-ray would be the way I would go and B) Sky Captain would no longer be available in that format. (Paramount eventually reintroduced the movie on Blu after the war ended.)

  22. August Lehe

    RCA MAGNETIC DISC – From Russia With Love

    VHS – Shane

    LASER DISC – Raiders of the Lost Ark

    DVD – Outlaw Josey Wales & The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

    BLU RAY – Disney’s Snow White (1937) COULD NOT BELIEVE DISNEY ESTATE HAD NOT PUT TITLE on BLU RAY EMBARGO….FOREVER! I know, I have CAV Laser of same title. I didn’t belive that either)

  23. Bryan

    DVD: Twister & The Fugitive (both launch-day titles, I believe)

    HD-DVD: Serenity

    Blu-Ray: Ultraviolet (yes, laugh all you want)

    VHS: probably Independence Day (prior to that I’d recorded a lot of movies off of TV, etc.)

    …and I’ll probably be the only one who will admit to buying a movie on:

    Betamax: Back To The Future (prior to studios doing sell-through … bought it for $85 for the local video store … saved up for 3 months (at age 13) to do it)

  24. August Lehe

    YES WILLIAM HENLEY! I also wonder how many purchased movies or features MAINLY for the Score or Soundtrack? With me…..let’s see, The BIG Country, yep! And, sure, what about Victory at Sea? Don’t forget HEAVY METAL! You thought I’d forgotten that one!

  25. That1guypictures

    First DVD’s- Little Shop of Horrors (Original ending), Mary Poppins & Willy Wonka in December 1997.

    First HD-DVD’s – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride in March 2007.

    First Blu-Rays – Pirates: Black Pearl, Casino Royale in April 2007.

    First 3D Blu-Ray – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs & Coraline in August 2010.

  26. That1guypictures

    First VHS – Sleeping Beauty

    First Laserdisc – Hook in December 1992.

    Last Laserdisc – Aladdin (CAV version) in 2003.

    Last VHS i purchased – Disney’s Mulan in 1999.

    Last DVD purchased (that wasn’t a TV series)
    Planes, Trains and Automobiles in November 2009.

    • EM

      Last of a given format is an interesting spin on this topic.

      I’m not sure what the last VHS I purchased was, but I think it was either Plan 9 From Outer Space or the remastered, pre-Special Edition Star Wars trilogy. In both cases, I was violating a moratorium on buying VHS that I had imposed on myself in anticipation of DVD. (I’d never gotten into laserdisc; it was when I was starting to seriously consider laserdisc that I heard about the advent of DVD.) In the case of the Star Wars movies, I was concerned that the publicity was right: this might be the last time the original versions (more or less) would be offered for home video. In Plan 9’s case, I found a very inexpensive but good-quality edition and just couldn’t pass up the bargain on so amazingly rewarding a film.

      • Last VHS movie for me was, oh, probably Lost In Space Letterbox Edition, unless Fansubs count, then that would be all 200 episodes of Sailor Moon (the studios later released all 200 episodes on DVD, but by that time, I was out of my Sailor Moon Kick).

        Last DVD was probably The American Girl Movie Collection.

        Last Laserdiscs (mind I am still buying laserdiscss) was about 6 months ago, and it was Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.

        Last HD-DVD I bought about 3 months ago, and it was Phantom of the Opera.

        Last Blu-Ray I bought was Super 8 and Harry Potter 7 and 8 in 3D. 🙂

      • BTW, the DVD versions of Star Wars came with a second disc that had the original theatrical editions on them. Sadly, they were 4×3 letterbox, but they were certainly a step up from the VHS letterbox releases

        • EM

          What you said is true…from a certain point of view. The first DVD release of the 1977–1983 trilogy, in 2004, did not contain the theatrical editions; it was the 2006 releases of the movies that introduced those “bonuses”, leading me to A) buy Star Wars films on DVD for the first time and B) retire my VHS copies.

          • Same here. My VHS letterbox set was in pretty bad shape by 2006. I actually forgot there was two releases. I must have held out, because the trilogy I have certainly has the original theatrical versions.

            I just stuck in A New Hope. I didn’t realize that it was only 2.0 stereo. Weren’t they minted from the Laserdiscs masters? I thought the THX masters had surround sound.

            I just looked at my Laserdisc, but its the 1983 CBS Home Video version, and its Stereo. Anyone have the THX release of it?

  27. Dan

    The first VHS i remember buying myself was Jurassic Park–but we had a few around before that–the original Star Wars trilogy (those I still have), Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Disney movies.

    The first DVD was Frantic….and the 5 free ones that came with my player (I remember US Marshals, the Mask, Analyse This, Fools Rush In…and the last one escapes me.

    I was a really late adopter of HD (blame it on being a college student). So the first blu ray I bought was Saving Private Ryan last year.