Display Box (Packaging)


1982 TVX Advertisement Featuring Display Boxes

Display boxes (more commonly referred to as big boxes) were first introduced to the home video market in 19811Mart, 1981/10, p. 40 by either Caballero Control, TVX or Family Home Entertainment.  Although most of the releases which used this packaging were for X-rated titles, Family Home Entertainment would release the very first mainstream titles using it. Most of these were for animated children’s programs like Gumby, but they also released a handful of full-length mainstream titles for older audiences. The earliest known of these are from Family Home Entertainment’s “World of Horror” series, which consisted of only two films: Journey into the Beyond (1975) and The Child (1977) (or alternately released as Kill and Go Hide). 


The vast majority of the titles released in the display box were adult content, all the way through to the early 2000’s when the VHS format lost out to DVD. For mainstream programming however, it was mainly independent distributors who used the packing to make their releases standout among the glut of more well-known Hollywood films. The biggest distributor of these were subsidiaries of NCB Entertainment (formed by the Noel Bloom who created both Caballero Control and Family Home Entertainment). These companies are USA Home Video, Thriller Video and Monterey Home Video. 

Smaller distributors of the display box in the U.S. include:

  • Academy Home Entertainment
  • Active Home Video
  • All Seasons Entertainment
  • Applause Productions Inc (API)
  • Ariel International Releasing (AIR Video)
  • Camp Video
  • Comet Video
  • Continental Video
  • Force Video
  • Gee Video
  • Magnum Entertainment
  • Midnight Video
  • Paragon Video Productions
  • Planet Video
  • Regal Video
  • Unicorn Video
  • VCII
  • Video Cassette Releasing (VCR)
  • Video City Productions
  • Video Gems
  • Video Warehouse
  • Wizard Video

Physical Attributes

Typical dimensions of a big box are asdfdaf, but these are not set in stone. Very early Midnight Video releases had a shorter depth.

Early display boxes typically housed the videocassette in a clamshell that was then placed inside the outer cardboard box, but towards the end of the 80s, these clamshells were replaced with cheaper plastic trays, or to a lesser extent, Styrofoam. 


In video collecting, display boxes, particularly of horror or exploitation titles, are the most sought after. Typically, these releases used newly commissioned artwork rather than their original theatrical posters. Distributors like Comet Video (sub-label of Continental Video) and Midnight Video would use graphic and intense imagery to capture the imaginations of video store patrons. Because these video were typically intended for video rental retailers, they had fewer print runs than more popular sell-through titles.

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    Mart, 1981/10, p. 40