At WATA, we live and breathe physical items. As the premier third-party video game grading service, we’re excited to bring our research, authentication, and grading expertise to film. That’s right, we’re now offering authentication and grading services for DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD.

If you’re a child of the ‘80s or ‘90s, you distinctly remember the nostalgic haven of video stores—Blockbuster Video, Family Video, Hollywood Video, Movie Gallery, to name a few. The smell of slightly stale popcorn and plastic VHS tapes, the vibrant carpet tiles, the candy setup that rivaled your favorite movie theater’s. The thrill of finding a freshly released flick amongst the racks was unmatched. Take it from Claire Shelton, Head of WATA, “In the rental days, you would agonize over covers in the store, putting your full confidence and weekend enjoyment at risk based on whichever cover caught your eye most significantly.”

And lest we forget the calls of “Be Kind, Rewind,” which became obsolete after DVDs — and later Blu-rays — took over.

The exciting era of disc-based entertainment seems not too long ago. Alas, the format was released in Japan in 1996 and made its way to the US in 1997. In the early aughts, these digital versatile discs skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the primary format for video distribution. Once video game consoles like PlayStation 2 and Xbox adopted DVDs, Netflix spun up to mail discs in 1998, and Redbox kiosks appeared in 2002, it was over for VHS.

Then came the format war of 2006-2008 with the release of Blu-ray, which allowed for high-definition (HD) video. But due to the cost of Blu-ray discs, players, and HD TVs required, DVDs still reigned supreme into the 2010s. That is until the world shifted to streaming.

While the ability to summon movies and shows anywhere, anytime, and on practically any device is incredible, many still miss the physical format of yesteryear. Especially now that digital content is being removed from streaming platforms left and right, consumers are losing access to what they paid for.

Physical discs didn’t only contain beloved films and TV programs. On the outside, they featured iconic covers, something Shelton remembers fondly, “One thing I find really remarkable about film cover art is how oftentimes, these covers are similar or oftentimes identical to the iconic movie theater posters we all know and love. To be able to encapsulate and preserve these miniaturized versions of iconic works of art really excites me, as the streaming era has truly diminished the importance of a cover needing to sell you on a film.”

And on the inside, they were packed with special features and extra content—bloopers, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and more. The only way you could access that content was via disc, and much of it has never even made its way online. How much bonus content lies discarded in a landfill or tucked away in a basement somewhere? We’ll never know.

But if you do happen to have that box of DVDs, Blu-rays, and 4K Ultra HD discs, send them to us. Head of Authentication for PSA Pop Culture Danny Gomez explains, “We’re a one-stop-shop—you can submit your games and movies and soundtracks. As a collector of pop culture in general, you can submit multiple items. That’s really exciting.”

Shelton is excited about the future, “While the film made into a video game pipeline has slowed down significantly over the last decade, the video game to film or TV lineup is the greatest it has ever been—both in terms of quantity and quality. In 2023 alone, we received standout video game adaptations such as The Last of Us, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and Castlevania: Nocturne. With these trends in mind, we’re confident that Hollywood will continue to release long-awaited video game-themed media—providing relevant gradable material for both fans of the video game source material and those who discover a game through film or TV for years to come.”

Not only can you submit all of your media at the same time, but film gets the same expert authentication and grading experience. Our labels and population reports are widely recognized as the source of truth among collectors, and we’re happy to bring the same level of in-depth research to film. WATA is able to authenticate and grade DVDs and Blu-rays at a high standard thanks to our deep familiarity with sealed products. After all, movie and gaming discs are made in the same factory. Shelton explained, “Our robust processes across these departments have allowed us to showcase the most detailed and accurate variants in the hobby, a stellar reputation with regards to authenticity, and widely-respected grading techniques which can account for any possible wear, damage or manufacturing irregularities.”

Your favorite movies will be encapsulated in the same WATA holders you know and love. (Some formats — such as snap case DVDs and paper box versions with slipcovers — will be encapsulated in Legacy holders to ensure the safety of the items.)

Why grade your old DVDs and Blu-rays?

To grade or not to grade — that choice is up to you, but as Gomez said, ”In a world where everything is going digital, you want people who keep the physical alive. That’s what grading is. What will this physical media look like in 10, 20, or 100 years? It needs to be preserved for future generations.”

However you collect movies and shows is up to you. Many collectors watch and collect their movies. On the preservation side, if a movie is sealed and you want to keep it preserved in that state, you can do that too. The beauty of collecting is that there’s no one way to do it.

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