The Movie Organization Manifesto: A Guide for DVD and Blu-ray Collectors


If you are a regular listener to the Film Junk Podcast, you are probably aware that we are big proponents of physical media and that each of us still maintains a sizable Blu-ray collection, even at a time when it is becoming increasingly uncommon to do so. We firmly believe that if you are a cinephile, you want to own your favourite movies and display them proudly on a shelf. You cannot rely on streaming services to have a particular movie available for you at any given time, even if you “own” a digital copy of that movie. That being said, we are also aware of just how absurd the mentality of a collector can be, which is why we recorded a series of podcasts exposing our innermost thoughts on the matter.

To coincide with the release of our sixth (!) podcast delving into obsessive compulsive matters of collecting physical media and the resulting psychological trauma, we have decided to finally post a full rundown of the key tenets of a collector’s rulebook we have been working on. We are calling it the Movie Organization Manifesto, although it could probably apply to other media as well. If you are looking for guidance on how to organize your collection, this should help put your mind at ease. Obviously it is a personal thing and we are not trying to tell you how to live your life… but just know that if you don’t follow these rules, we will definitely think less of you.

1. Titles should always be separated by format (ie. DVD, Blu-ray, UHD).

In order to maintain a pleasing aesthetic appearance, the first step is to group your movies by format so that cases of similar sizes and colour generally remain together. It goes without saying that if a release contains multiple formats (ie. a Blu-ray that also contains a DVD), it should still be grouped based on the case type. The one exception to this rule is Blu-rays that come in a DVD case, a rare anomaly that still gets filed alongside other Blu-rays but really should be eliminated from your collection in the first place.

2. Within these groups, titles should be separated by medium (ie. TV, film).

Again, this sort of helps keep bigger box sets grouped together and away from single disc releases but, more importantly, it keeps TV and other junk from tainting a pristine film collection. It can get complicated, however, based on the subjective categorization of certain types of content. Here is how we break it down:

  • Documentaries are filed with movies.
  • Documentary series or mini-series are filed with TV.
  • Made for TV movies are filed with movies.
  • Holiday specials are filed with TV.
  • Concert films can be filed as either movies or TV, depending on the cinematic nature of the title in question.
  • Music video collections are filed under TV.
  • Sports collections are filed under TV.
  • Stand up comedy specials are filed under TV.

3. Within these groups, discs should be sorted in alphabetical order by title.

It seems like a pretty obvious rule, but it is surprising how many people don’t alphabetize their collections. This is the least ambiguous, most reliable method of sorting a large collection, but again there are some finer points that require clarification:

  • “The” can be ignored.
  • This might mean separating movies from other installments in a franchise although there is some wiggle room for sequels where the titles are fairly close alphabetically.
  • Titles that start with numbers go before the letter A, but only if the title actually has a number in it (ie. if the number spelled out as a word, it is filed under the appropriate letter instead).
  • Movies with the same title go in order of release date.
  • Box sets or collections for a specific director or actor are usually filed by the person’s last name.
  • Other box sets are usually filed based on the name of the box set (ie. Hammer Horror Collection is under “H”).
  • Double feature / triple feature discs are usually filed by the title of the first movie listed, unless one of the other movies is more prominent or recognizable.
  • Foreign language films are sorted by their foreign language title only if that is the title on the cover and spine.


4. Separating by distributor is allowed but depends on the size of the collection.

This has been one of the most debated aspects of the manifesto but we have eventually decided that there is some merit to it. With the rise of so many great boutique Blu-ray distributors out there today (Criterion, Kino Lorber, Twilight Time, etc.), many collectors like to show their dedication to a particular distributor by separating those movies into a group of their own. This can result in a beautiful uniformity among distributors that have a standardized spine design. However, this is only feasible if you have a significant number of releases from that distributor (say, at least 20). We still do not recommend sorting by Criterion Collection number, unless you are some kind of freak that has them all committed to memory.

5. No additional grouping by director, actor, genre, etc.

All other additional grouping is frowned upon, largely because of how ambiguous it can be. It might sound like a good idea to put all of your horror movies and your sci-fi movies together, but you will soon find that there are many movies that straddle genres, leading to confusion. It is a slippery slope and one there is no coming back from.

6. Seasonal shelves are allowed.

The one exception to the previous rule is if you want to separate out movies of a particular genre for themed viewing over a short period of time. This might include highlighting horror movies during Halloween, holiday movies around Christmas, or the films belonging to a particular franchise or artist for a planned marathon. These should not remain separate for longer than a month unless there is strong justification for it.

7. Slipcovers are optional but should remain as consistent as possible across all items.

If you want to add just a little bit more uniformity and cohesion to your collection, you may opt to remove all of your slipcovers. Not all DVD and Blu-ray releases have slipcovers, so by removing them you can earn yourself a little bit of extra consistency. However, some slipcovers have nicer artwork than the main Blu-ray cover and are actually collector’s items unto themselves. The choice is yours, but we advise that if you do hold on to your slipcovers, keep as many as possible. On a related note, J-cards (the cardboard inserts attached to the back of box sets and steelbooks) are also optional but often worth saving for the sake of completeness and to retain the product UPC code.


8. No custom artwork.

There are a lot of DVD and Blu-rays out there with terrible artwork but that is no reason to tarnish your collection with custom fan-made artwork. We get it… there is a lot of beautiful custom artwork out there. The temptation can be great. But at a certain point, if you’re going to discard the official packaging and artwork, your collection might as well just be a bunch of burned DVD-Rs with printed out covers. It just doesn’t feel right and you are also potentially killing the resale value of your collection.

9. Avoid special packaging where possible. Box sets should only be separated from the rest of the collection if they do not fit with the general population.

If you’re a collector, at some point you will no doubt be tempted to buy a special deluxe edition of one of your favourite movies that comes packaged in some exclusive gimmicky case. Star Trek contained in a USS Enterprise, for example. Or maybe the Home Alone series in a paint can. Whatever it is, you will almost always live to regret such a purchase. These releases do not fit nicely on a shelf and, in some cases, they offer less protection to the discs themselves. We recommend avoiding these kinds of releases unless they are the only way to obtain an otherwise outstanding movie or collection. Also, some people like to separate out special box sets completely even when they fit on your shelf, but this is unnecessary… self-indulgent even.

10. Shrink wrap must be removed before filing. Spot checks are also recommended.

Last but not least, DVDs and Blurays should be opened and have the shrink wrap removed before they officially enter your collection. This helps to ensure that the disc inside is in decent condition and that it is the right movie while you are still within the return or exchange window. It also prepares the movie for a quick and easy retrieval at a later date. There is nothing worse than being in the mood to watch a certain movie only to find that you need to fumble with shrink wrap and security stickers before you can satisfy that urge. If you have the time, it is also good to put the movie into your player for a brief “spot check” shortly after purchase as well but we understand this is not always possible.

Note: This is a living document that continues to evolve. Rules may be added or changed over time so feel free to give us your feedback and suggestions. It is our hope that the Movie Organization Manifesto helps you lead a happier, fuller life and lets you sleep soundly at night.

  • You fucking assholes have me seriously thinking about getting rid of my steelbook collection and boutique copies and going straight. This is a major undertaking.

  • andyluvsfilms

    I cannot do without the FilmJunk pod. It’s the shizzle.

  • Currently breaking a couple rules and a couple more I may in the future.

    The thing with the custom artwork, I own a high end printer, so no crappy print quality issues & I can drop the new artwork in right on top of the original paper, still keeping the disc resale value intact. For me it’s mostly about the disc content: uncompressed audio and great visual transfer, so I see the cover as more an aspect of advertising versus the actual production of the film. So it rather replace it with an image that feels more in line with the film itself, created by fans for fans. If the cover the studio put out doesn’t get me a little excited to rewatch the film, I’ll swap it.

    Also, grouping by directors, I get the itch to watch some Coen brothers or Nolan or Tim Burton, whatever. There definitely should be an exception for breaking out by director or theme, example; when you go on a John Carpenter streak, similar to the holiday grouping. Temporary genre or director or actor sections, no more than a month.

    As for title sorting, I’ll always group series, regardless of title. Star Wars, Dark Knight Trilogy TOGETHER, James Bond, all Die Hards. If I send Frank’s father to the movie shelves to find Skyfall and he’s hunting in the S section but not right at the beginning, 007 section, that’s on me for not saying “All the Bond films are together, 007, right at the beginning.”

    Still, I feel like my shame level is considerably lower than if I co-mingled DVD & Blu-ray or stacked vertically or put all my discs in binders.

  • I think you’re ok here. I wouldn’t want custom art for all my discs, but alot of them look great that way – especially series. Like making my Star Wars despecialized editions into Criterions.

    And I 100% disagree with their rules about not group trilogies together if they have different names. It’s insane to me to not have Batman Begins next to The Dark Knight (not that I would own either in the first place. By their rules, 2 Fast 2 Furious would come before Fast and the Furious. That makes no sense.

  • Deven Science

    I pretty much follow all the rules save one, and it’s the biggest. I just mix my DVDs and Blurays together. I separate for TV, and all other rules, but if you want to find Raising Arizona, it’ll be in the Rs, and only once you spot it will you see whether it’s a DVD or Baby Blue. This was done early on because I had so few Blues, but I’ve seen no reason to separate them out since then, as my collection (only a couple hundred or so) is still predominantly DVDs.

  • Chad L

    I don’t agree that mixing formats is wrong, especially when they can play together like DVDs can play on Blu-ray players, so why separate? And my Modern Family collection shouldn’t be in two parts just because they quit releasing Blu-ray seasons.
    Alphabetical doesn’t always work. I do categories under genres. If u want all American Pie movies together, they should be, same with Friday the 13th movies in release order.
    I was hoping there was going to be a good review of apps to store your collection. I have two requirements that rule out most. I want adult DVDs included and the ability to create my own, wether just for me or to add to their database.

  • Elton Alwine

    My collection is small enough that I continue to keep labels together. I’m never one to alphabetize. After the shelves of Criterion and Arrow and Scream/Shout, etc. the standard blu’s go on the shelf in randomness. Although I do keep Christmas movies together, and I have a row of ’90s films together as that was a special decade in which I saw most of those films in theaters…

    Great manifesto however. I think it’ll help me keep my collection fresh on the shelf for years to come.

  • Lior

    (haven’t listened to the latest show yet)

    It’s great to see all the manifesto in one place. I follow all the rules except for one: I file titles that begin with numbers alphabetically regardless if the number is spelled out or not.

    I also see no reason to separate UHD discs from the rest of the collection, unless maybe you have a very large collection of those (which I don’t). These releases usually contain a regular blu-ray as well, and are called “4K blurays” so technically they belong on the blu ray shelf.
    Yes, the packaging is black, but with many studios releasing clear packaging there is no bluray color uniformity anyway. If the 4K packaging had a different size that would be a whole other matter.

  • Yup – I’m going to beat the piss out of all three of you next time I’m in Toronto. I just put all my hard fought for slipcovers in a box in the closet and just started trading and selling all of my steelbooks on /r/steelbookswaps and /r/boutiquebluray

    I’m keeping all of my high end stuf (NovaMedia, Plain Archive, etc.) for now.

  • My biggest departure from the rules is one never discussed afaik in any manifesto episode: I separate animation, order them chronologically (starting with Snow White, currently ending with, I think, A Silent Voice, released in the US in 2019), with alphabetical order within the year of release, and unfortunately have a number of DVDs (and BDs in DVD cases, thanks Disney) mixed in with the usual BD cases. The animation does have to be theatrical, or feature. This is why Snow White goes ahead of the Looney Tunes collections, due to containing some early Disney shorts, but, e.g., Death Note goes on a separate shelf. The biggest problem is probably determining what “animation” is. Like, Roger Rabbit is but Ready Player One isn’t, even though Ready Player One basically is, but Roger Rabbit really owns it; it’s a difficult judgment call getting more difficult all the time. As for the dad test, my dad would be able to find anything on the shelf, though I concede most dad’s would not. He’s also 68 and lives 1000 miles away, so it’s kind of moot, or will be, though that’s morbid.

    I wouldn’t hate chronological for my live-action films, but I have about 2000 of them, rather than 150, and what an undertaking that would be.

  • Oh, I also love box sets, especially for completed franchises or directors. They go on a different shelf, chrono order by first released within the set.

  • I’m with you on UHD. It doesn’t help that it’s a wheezing format that kind of barely exists, is priced stupid, and isn’t a quantum leap in quality for most screens. A Hidden Life 4K? That’d be rad, but it won’t be released. Pixar 4Ks? Colorful, but rendered in 2.

  • Lori Cerny

    How long should a film be on a watchlist before giving up and filing it with the collection?

    Does anyone find a particular artist (director, actor, etc.) so embarrassing (for whatever reason) that you cannot watch any of their work or even a specific work?

  • Lori Cerny

    I finally watched a blu-ray – The Cure for Wellness, and could NOT tell the difference between the visual quality of that format and a regular DVD.

  • I just heard Netflix allows alphabetical sorting… But they have all movies starting with ‘The’ in the T’s.

    Fuck Netflix.

    That is all.

  • Sean

    What kind of TV do you have?

  • Sean

    I know technically animation isn’t a genre, but grouping like that obviously leads to the same issues as grouping by genre. Too ambiguous!

  • Sean

    Wait, why are you getting rid of boutique stuff and steelbooks? Just for more consistency in the overall look of your collection?

  • Yeah aesthetic consistency. I had a shelf of Criterions, a shelf of steelbooks, a shelf of slipcover, a shelf of regulars, a shelf of boutique labels, a shelf for 4K and a shelf of old ass DVDs. Each shelf on its own looked great. But taking a step back and looking at it as a whole, it was a mess.

    I’ll keep the high-end boutique stuff for now. But just moving the slipcovers into a box (which really hurt to do because I like them and they cost) really cleaned things up. Making some good trades on Reddit though and it’s easier than I thought it would be. I should be done in about a year and it’s going to look awesome.

  • Sam

    Don’t let them sway you Andrew. Boutique labels are putting out some of the best releases right now and looked pretty solid grouped together. Even mixed. Stuff like Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow Video also have great looking slip overs. As Jay mentioned, Powerhouse Indicator releases are great. I have like 90% of those releases and they look pretty sweet together too.

  • Those distributors have fairly standard looking cases and look fine mixed in with the regular releases. Indicator is awesome, just wish they had a little better library.

    So by boutique in my book, I mean stuff from Plain Archive and NovaMedia, FilmArena and Mantalab and stuff like that. Like the really high-end $50+ releases.

    I think I’ll be keeping those for now on a separate shelf because those are really sweet. I could get a lot of coin for them, but I’ll keep them for now.

  • Is it just me or did Scott at some point make a reference to Sunshine on UHD? I’ve been looking all over for a copy now, checked iTunes US and UK to see if they offere a 4K transfer but it’s only HD. Sunshine in 4K would be a dream.

  • Lori Cerny

    Dell PC – I’s poor.

  • Lori Cerny

    I’m just a mouthbreather.

  • Michaelkim724

    I live in a small rental and if the blu ray disc comes in a regular clam shell, I put the disc in a cd sleeve in a binder and toss the packaging. I keep the binder on the coffee table in front of the screen. I have a small cheap bookcase that I use to store blu-ray discs with special packaging and my complete Simpsons collection. My dvd’s have been re-donated back to Goodwill except for DVD’s with special packaging.