VHS Boxes Are Back: Meet Home Video’s Latest Retro Trend
Just as vinyl and cassettes have enjoyed recent returns to the music retail world, the home-video market is flashing back to the '80s glory days of big, chunky VHS boxes.
In this case, the nostalgia is a bit more superficial: You won't need to dust off your old VCR; it's only the packaging that's retro on these newly reissued Blu-rays.
The October 2017 Target-exclusive home-video release of Stranger Things' first season set a high early standard for this trend, with tricked-out packaging that faithfully recreated the look of a VHS tape that had been rented many times from a mom-and-pop video-rental store. Season Two was released in similar packaging in November 2018.
Zavvi offers similarly impressively packaged versions of The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Fright Night. Target followed up their two Stranger Things collections with a series of classic '70s and '80s Blu-rays packaged in bare-bones clamshell cases, including Jaws, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Slap Shot and Sixteen Candles.
Retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have also started to offer Blu-rays that get into the retro game in a more limited way. While the Blu-ray cases, discs and interior packaging look normal, their sets are housed in new slipcovers that follow the Stranger Things lead of replicating the "old rental store videotape" look.
You can take a look at the packaging for many of the newly repackaged movies below. The growing video download and streaming market has put a serious dent in physical disc sales in recent years, with the Digital Entertainment Group reporting a 14 percent drop in sales in 2017, following a 10 percent decline in 2016. Clearly the retailers and movie studios behind these "retro VHS" packages are counting on nostalgic collectors to help stem the tide a bit.