We began seeing the large display box or “big box” in the early eighties as the video rental industry boomed. At this time, the market for the VHS or Beta wasn’t necessarily aimed at the home market (due to the ridiculous costs for a single cassette) but rather video rental stores. The display box served to be just that; a large display presenting images meant to entice the shopper to rent the film, regardless of how truthful or misleading those images would be.

Since the larger Hollywood distributors were distributing recognized films like Star Wars or Friday the 13th with the assistance of TV commercials and other promotions, large display boxes weren’t needed. Lesser known independent and foreign films on the other hand, relied on the large displays to stop those renters in their tracks. For someone looking to rent something they haven’t heard of, large colorful boxes screaming “look at me!” grabbed their attention.  The goal of these boxes was to spark some sort of curiosity for the shopper. Often times, this spark was false, but resulted in some of the most memorable artwork of the video age.

With the prices of VHS declining, so did the rule of the video rental store. Videos could now be purchased to keep for twenty dollars or less. This reduced the demand for the large boxes, as most films were now being released in slipcases. The porn industry however, maintained the large boxes. Even with the demise of the family rental store, many adult shops maintained a loyal customer base. What better way to show two naked bodies doing their thing than having it presented on a large display box?