Would You Like a Movie With That Collectible?

The film is almost an afterthought in this recent crop of enhanced DVD packages.

In the beginning, there was DVD.

Then the Lord said “Let there be Special Editions.” Today, Nearly 10 years since the dawn of the format, special editions aren’t always so special. But manufacturers, in a bid to grab fleeting attention in a sea of plastic keepcases, have combined to create a Golden Era in stand-out, stop-in-your-tracks DVD packages.

We’re not talking metal tins and hologram covers here. Those are so 2005. We’re talking boxes in the shape of zombie faces, or that contain replica movie props and other collectible premiums that some movie lovers might even buy separately if they saw them on the shelf at Suncoast. These are ultra-cool packages, frequently commanding a premium of a hundred bucks or more and often rolled out during the holiday shopping season.

These sets are typically reserved for reissues or, more and more, complete series of TV shows. Lionsgate commemorated the 15th anniversary of Reservoir Dogs with a nifty gasoline can tin, and a disc holder resembling a book of matches. For good or bad, they stopped short of including a dismembered ear.

“We are always looking for new ways to attract consumer’s attention to our product, whether it’s previously released titles or new titles to the marketplace,” says Anne Parducci, executive vice president, Marketing and Family Entertainment for Lionsgate. “Creating new, attractive packaging is just one way to reach out to the core consumer.”

Alias enthusiasts can own a replica of the Rambaldi Box instrumental to the series’ mythology. The high-quality, intricately embossed case stores 29 discs, including a hidden bonus platter. And Homicide: The Complete Case Files, packs the series’ entire seven season run plus follow-up movie in a 8.5” deep “file cabinet.”

One of the nicer DVD add-ons is the “cryptex” seen in The DaVinci Code. The weighty, scaled down replica can be programmed with any password you choose and can even store a secret note, corrosive vinegar not included. The package retails for $89.95.

To make the release of a King Kong special edition extra special, Universal is offering a box that includes a sculpture of the beast and his beauty scaling the Empire State Building. The highly detailed piece will be right at home on your bookshelf alongside sculpted bookends featuring Lucy and Tumnus the Fawn found in the new The Chronicles of Narnia gift set.

And if you’d like to tap the superhero within, Anchor Bay has packed a cape, iron-on transfer and light-up instruction manual that Ralph Hinkley wishes he hadn’t lost in its Greatest American Hero: Complete Series box.

These loaded boxes aren’t reserved for A-list movies and TV-on-DVD collections, either. Anime has gotten into the act as well. Manga Entertainment has issued Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 7 in, yes, a metal “window” tin big enough to hold previous volumes and containing a “Motoko B-Type” collectible figure.

If classic sci-fi is your passion, why wouldn’t you want a three-inch tall Robbie the Robot figure, included in Warner’s Forbidden Planet 50th Anniversary Edition tin? To sweeten the pot, you’ll even get 17 lobby card reproductions and an offer for a free full-size theatrical poster reproduction.

Of course, elaborately packaged DVDs aren’t anything new; they’ve just been proliferating lately. As far back as 2001, Artisan Entertainment (now Lionsgate) released Basic Instinct in an ice package, complete with ice pick pen, and Total Recall in a Mars-shaped tin. A couple of years later MGM made a splash with a repackaged Fargo, which included a snow globe of the “I just think I'm gonna barf” scene.

According to Parducci, unusual packaging is imperative to stand out on store shelves. And consumers seem to love them.

“Not only does it make the movie more collectible but retailers are more inclined to give the title shelf space or feature placement,” she says. “The Reservoir Dogs: 15th Anniversary Edition oil can packaging is a great example of successfully reaching out to those core fans of the film.”

But can innovative, attention-grabbing packages enhance a movie that wasn’t good to begin with? Will Van Wilder bust out on DVD with a new busty slipcase that highlights the attributes of a female character?

“I believe that a great package and feature placement makes the difference. A collectible add-on is nice but not the driving factor for purchase,” Parducci says.

And if you prefer your packaging easy on the environment, Paramount issued Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in 100% post-consumer recyclable packaging, for the least impact on the Earth as possible. Call the thin cardboard slipcase the anti-extravagant DVD package.