2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Blu-ray Gifts for Movie and TV Fans
With physical disc sales dwindling and studios spending less and less on them, it might be easy for a movie collector to feel a little glum. And cash grabs like The Godfather Blu-ray Collection: Omerta Edition and Buffy the Vampire Slayer 25th Anniversary Edition—which add nothing at all from previous releases—might be making that same movie collector a little angry.
Well, cheer up, because we’ve cooked up a list of noteworthy 4K Blu-ray and standard Blu-ray releases for 2017 that’ll have you making unboxing videos like it’s 2007 all over again. (Please don’t.)
And remember, you’re not alone: your movie friend Christopher Nolan still prefers Blu-ray over Netflix.
Coffee Table Box Sets
- This 10-part, 18-hour documentary premiered on PBS in September and is spread out over 10 discs in 1.78:1 broadcast aspect ratio.
- Written by Geoffrey Ward, who also collaborated with Burns on his classic series The Civil War from 1990.
- Ken Burns, the premier documentarian of the past 30 years, is so ingrained in pop culture he has a zoom effect named after him. (You know what it is.) Plus, he’s been on The Simpsons three (!) times.
- Includes over 100 minutes of featurettes and deleted sequences.
- Shot with 4K, 5K and even 6K cameras. Yes, this will be one of those reference discs that you use to show off your home theater system to friends.
- Contains all 6 episodes on 3 discs, plus one bonus behind-the-scenes feature. Each episode is just under an hour.
- Narrated, of course, by the inimitable David Attenborough. (Seriously, who else?)
- Boo-hiss, BBC: The 4K set does not include the standard Blu-ray and/or digital copy. They are separate purchases (Blu-ray / Digital HD).
100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012 (The Criterion Collection)
(2017 release |
MSRP: $400 | Street: $260)
- December release contains 53 movies from 41 editions of the Olympic Games, including a 4K restoration of the notorious Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, among others.
- In addition to the 32 Blu-ray discs, there’s a fancy 216-page hardcover book (yes, a coffee table book).
- The silent films have new scores composed by Maud Nelissen, Donald Sosin, and Frido ter Beek.
- Director/producer Bud Greenspan made ten (!) Olympic features from the 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
4K Box Sets for Geeks
- This reboot of the campy 1960s and ’70s sci-fi series has some of the best motion-capture CGI we’ve seen on the big screen. ‘Cause they stuck with chimps instead of train conductors. (Remember The Polar Express? Shudder.)
- Andy Serkis outdoes his mo-cap Gollum with an Oscar-worthy turn as Caesar, the super-smart, genetically modified chimp.
- War for the Planet of the Apes, shot on the large-format 6K resolution ARRI Alexa 65, gets a brilliant showcase on 4K Blu-ray, although all 3 4K discs are sourced from 2K digital intermediates (DI’s).
- This 6-disc collection has all 3 movies (“Rise,” “Dawn” and “War”) and includes the standard 1080p Blu-rays and Digital HD copies. Does not include DVD.
- In 2017, the Harry Potter series received the 4K treatment with HDR enhancements, and the results are fantastic, considering Warner Bros. sourced 2K digital intermediates.
- This set collects the 8 individual 4K releases that initially rolled out in the spring and finished in the fall, but doesn’t add anything extra or “collectible.”
- Still, you’re saving a good chunk of money buying the whole set together, since each movie is around $25 to $30 separately.
- A pity: If the Potter fan in your life already has one of the Blu-ray box sets, this isn’t a must-have.
Superhero Movies Old & New
Wonder Woman 4K Ultra HD Edition | Blu-ray 3D Edition
(2017 releases |
MSRP: $30 / $35 | Street: $25 / $30)
- The 4K disc is gorgeous despite being sourced from a 2K digital intermediate. It includes a 1080p Blu-ray with some modest bonus features and deleted scenes and Digital HD copy.
- Boo-hiss, Warner Bros.: If you want the stunning Blu-ray 3D version, you have to buy a separate release, which is also bundled with that same 1080p Blu-ray with bonus features and Digital HD copy.
- The immersive, reference-quality Dolby Atmos mix takes advantage of all the modern audio gimmicks to make your home theater rumble.
- Ironically, the well-received Wonder Woman has grossed over $800 million worldwide, but still less than the more-hated Batman v. Superman.
- Old-school Christopher Reeve Superman is still the best Superman, and the beefed-up version of his 1978 debut gets a long-awaited Blu-ray release.
- This is the 188-minute extended cut that first aired on TV as a two-parter over two nights in 1982.
- Includes the 151-minute Special Edition that first appeared in 2005.
- Also worth picking up the Superman II: Richard Donner Cut Blu-ray (2006) which restored director Richard Donner’s lost footage from the production. (The first two movies were filmed simultaneously.)
Spielberg vs. Nolan in 4K: Fight!
The Dark Knight Trilogy 4K | Interstellar 4K | Dunkirk 4K
(2017 releases |
MSRP: $84 / $32 / $45 | Street: $71 / $26 / $30)
- Christopher Nolan, often considered the greatest director of his generation (Gen X), has a handful of his best works getting the 4K treatment in December.
- Noted film enthusiast Nolan is personally involved with the 4K restorations, so they’re sure to be top-notch—and everything is being sourced from 4K digital intermediates.
- The Batman movies will also be available as individual 4K releases.
- 70% of Dunkirk was shot on IMAX film, and Nolan is particularly excited about 4K HDR doing it justice.
- Update: The 21-disc Christopher Nolan Collection in 4K will also be available in December for a cool $150. It will have The Dark Knight Trilogy, Dunkirk and Interstellar plus Inception and The Prestige.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 4K | E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 4K
(2017 releases |
MSRP: $25 / $28 | Street: $20 / $25)
- Steven Spielberg, often considered the greatest director of his generation (Baby Boomers), personally reviewed the 4K restorations of Close Encounters and E.T.
- The new 4K Close Encounters is available in a standard 3-disc set and a limited edition gift set. Each set contains restored versions of the 1977 original theatrical release, 1980 special edition and 1997 director’s cut.
- 4K E.T. is available in a 2-disc combo pack with 1080p Blu-ray and Digital HD copy and over 3 hours of bonus features and a 2-disc limited edition set that also includes the soundtrack and a behind-the-scenes book. Bonus: E.T. gets a DTS:X immersive audio mix.
- These two remasters are “real 4K” because the original 35mm/70mm film negatives were scanned in 4K.
For the Old Timers
- The 60th Anniversary edition of David Lean’s Academy Award-winning masterpiece gets a full-on HDR-enhanced 4K restoration.
- Includes a modern Dolby Atmos mix. Same bonus features as the 2011 Blu-ray edition.
- Winner of 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Kwai stands the test of time, looking the best it’s ever looked on home video.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi’s masterful performance won him the Best Actor Oscar.
- This 1080p Blu-ray comes from a new 4K digital restoration overseen by Walt Disney Studios and sourced from the original 35mm camera negatives.
- Alfred Hitchcock’s first Hollywood picture was produced by David O. Selznick (Gone with the Wind) and netted a Best Picture Oscar.
- Two-disc set includes 2007 making-of doc, plus film historian commentaries and cast and crew interviews, including Hitchcock.
- Criterion doing what it does best: Rebecca has never looked better on home video.
For the Kiddos
- You’ll be surprised how good these old ’60s and ’70s cartoons look, taken from Technicolor’s 4K scans of the original 35mm archives.
- Watch it in the original 4:3 broadcast aspect ratio to get the full resolution.
- Contains 9 holiday episodes in 4K HDR, including the classics—Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) and Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)—as well as lesser known oddities like It’s a Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984).
- The 6-disc set also includes standard 1080p Blu-rays with Digital HD copies.
Walt Disney Signature Collection: Pinocchio | Bambi | The Lion King
(2017 re-releases |
MSRP: $40 each | Street: $20-25 each)
- In 2017, Disney’s Signature Collection released 3 more beloved Disney movies that have been on Blu-ray before but now include digital HD copies for the first time. (These two-disc combo packs also include DVD.) Snow White and Beauty and the Beast were released last year.
- The Pinocchio Blu-ray transfer is the same as the 2009 Platinum Edition but includes about 20 minutes of new bonus features as well as a Sing Along Edition.
- The 75th Anniversary edition of Bambi has a Blu-ray transfer that’s nearly the same as the 2011 edition except with the original RKO title card restored. You also get about 30 minutes of new bonus features.
- The Lion King Blu-ray transfer is mostly identical to its 2011 Diamond Edition release but with a couple restored effects and about 40 minutes of additional new bonus features.