Filmby Shane “The Collecta” Hnetka

I’m a collector. You might consider that a fancy word for “hoarder”, but I think my amazing DVD/Blu-ray collection is a library of awesomeness. At least it’s better than, say, piles of newspapers that catch fire and burn down houses.

While I tend to collect movies based on, well, wanting to see them, I might be tempted to spend more money if there’s something cool about a particular release — unique extras, cool packaging; that kind of thing. For example, my Evil Dead: Book of the Dead Edition — I love owning a movie bound in human flesh (well, flesh-like rubber) and written in blood (red ink).

But special packaging can also be a crassly calculated maneuver to part collectors from their money.

Case in point: The new Middle-earth Limited Collectors’ Edition.

My Preciousss, It Gougesss

From the first DVD/Blu-rays, Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movie releases have been packed with extras and behind-the-scenes footage. They’ve been a passionate fan’s dream. Now, Warner Bros. has collected the entire six-movie series into one collector’s set. It should be fantastic.

It’s not.

Warner’s Middle-earth: Limited Collector’s Edition contains all three Hobbit movies and the (far superior) Lord of the Rings trilogy, all in their extended-cut versions. Since this is a fancy set, the 30 discs come in fake leather books that fit into a Shire-style wooden shelf. There’s also a production sketchbook dressed up like the Red Book of Westmarch. Neat.

Unfortunately, the initially announced price was US$800. For six movies, a book and a shelf. That’s around $1,000 Canadian.

I wince when I spend $100 on a box set with 23 James Bond movies.

Sundering The Fellowship

Here’s the thing: these six movies on 30 discs are the EXACT same discs Warner Bros. has already released. There are NO new extras. Only the packaging is different. So if you’ve bought the extended editions, you already have these discs (plus the original theatrical cuts, which the new set only includes as a digital download).

Basically, you’re spending US$800 on a shelf and faux-leather book packaging. That’s far, far more than it would cost to buy everything in this boxed set and a lot more.

I realize that with streaming and other digital services, most people don’t want or need physical movies, so studios must dress their products up to attract collectors. But US$800 for a stinkin’ shelf is a middle finger to those customers.

Fortunately, there’s been a backlash to the Middle-earth Limited Collector’s Edition, which is probably why Amazon has lowered the pre-order price to $US600.

Still a hell of a lot to pay for a shelf.

Shane Hnetka is a Saskatchewan film and comic book nerd who wastes his money wisely. Follow him on Twitter: @Shnetka.