PDA

View Full Version : In the early days of VHS & BETA, did it really cost 80 - 100 bucks to buy a movie?


Wee Bairn
07-25-2007, 08:35 PM
I was around back then, but didn't get a VCR of my own for several years. However, I seem to vaguely recall seeing prices in the three figure range? Am I remebering correctly?

asterion
07-25-2007, 08:39 PM
If you wanted a movie right away at the same time the rental places got it, it would indeed cost that much. Eventually the prices would come down to $20-$30 or so, but it took a long time. Blockbuster apparently played hardball and refused to go with the two-stage release when DVD came out, so the studios stopped doing it.

Qadgop the Mercotan
07-25-2007, 08:43 PM
They sure did cost that much or more! It also cost about $100 to just buy a video rental store membership, for the privilege of renting movies for at least $10 bucks a pop! Once you were on the waiting list long enough to get the hot titles!

I remember that some titles were so hot that the video store had bought three copies!

(This was back in 1983)

Wee Bairn
07-25-2007, 08:46 PM
It also cost about $100 to just buy a video rental store membership, for the privilege of renting movies for at least $10 bucks a pop!
(This was back in 1983)

Serious? The exclamation points are sending mixed signals. :)

Tuckerfan
07-25-2007, 08:46 PM
Yup. I remember the guy at the family owned video store (Remember those?) saying a woman was foolish or buying a movie when she could rent it 17 times for the same price. Prices began to fall after The Hunt for Red October came out costing something like $120 (but the tape's red!) and everybody screamed in protest. They hit rock bottom with the introduction of DVDs.

President Johnny Gentle
07-25-2007, 08:47 PM
Yes, the good old days of "priced to own" and "priced to rent" videos. Having been in elementary school in the early 80s, I don't remember much other than the ads, however, or the video rental membership prices.

I do remember getting our first VCR when I was in 4th grade, going to the video store, and wondering what those "Swedish Erotica" videos were on the top shelf, above the movies which were a little more appropriate for a 10-year old.

Qadgop the Mercotan
07-25-2007, 08:49 PM
Serious? The exclamation points are sending mixed signals. :)
Quite serious. This was during a time when there were exactly two video rental stores in a metro area of 1.2 million people.

JXJohns
07-25-2007, 08:52 PM
I worked at a video store in 1989. I remember when Platoon, Blind Date and Mannequin each were released. Our price was $89 a pop. We sold tons.

Wee Bairn
07-25-2007, 09:06 PM
Quite serious. This was during a time when there were exactly two video rental stores in a metro area of 1.2 million people.

I find this fascinating for some reason. How many titles did the stores carry? Could you conceivably go in on a Friday night are they'd be "sold out"?

Frostillicus
07-25-2007, 09:10 PM
I remember a buddy of mine wanting to buy Blue Velvet as a gag gift for another buddy's bachelor party back in the late 80s. When he found out that it cost $89.00, he decided to pursue another option.

Qadgop the Mercotan
07-25-2007, 09:17 PM
I find this fascinating for some reason. How many titles did the stores carry? Could you conceivably go in on a Friday night are they'd be "sold out"?
Oh, they'd usually have something there. A copy of That's Entertainment II or one of the Planet of the Apes sequels. Or porn. There was always some sort of porn available on that one shelf behind the curtain which had the sign that said "Adults Only" on it.

It was slim pickings in the early days.

I do recall that there were always copies of the popular movies available in Beta. VHS, not so much.

WhyNot
07-25-2007, 09:40 PM
Blockbuster apparently played hardball and refused to go with the two-stage release when DVD came out, so the studios stopped doing it.
Are you sure about this? The way I heard it was that Blockbuster fought Sell-Through pricing tooth and nail, but Wal-Mart fought back and won with the studios. Blockbuster makes (made) a lot more from each rental copy than they do with sales, even when the higher prices were in effect. Wal-Mart wanted you to buy it from them instead of renting it from Blockbuster.

There was also (and may still be, I don't know) a revenue sharing deal in effect for some of the studios with Blockbuster. Those were the "Guaranteed New Release!" movies. Unlike other titles, the Guaranteed tapes never really belonged to the store - they'd get a ton of them in, and then a month or two later ship most of them back to the studio, keeping only a small portion to sell as pre-viewed tapes. This let us stock a whole shitload of one title but not actually pay for all the tapes. Some of the rental revenue for each title went back to the studio in return. We at the store level never knew the price Blockbuster paid for those tapes, but it was far less than $100 on average, even for those tapes not priced at sell-through prices.

Oh, and sell-through pricing ($80-100 per tape) was still the model well into the '90s. It wasn't just an "early days" thing. In the mid 90's was when more, but not all, movies started coming out at sell-through prices.

Hippy Hollow
07-25-2007, 09:43 PM
Oh, definitely. I knew a guy whose top-loader ate a tape. It cost like $120 to replace it!

The AAFES video store at RAF Upper Heyford had about 30 titles, including Victor/Victoria. They came in those puffy cases. And if you wanted a dual-system VHS system that could play NTSC, PAL, and SECAM tapes, the VCR ran around $1200. My parents had one in '83, and it was working as recently as 2002 (it did have a few repairs done).

I remember the first $30 video - I think it might have been a teen movie or a Bruce Willis movie. It made headlines - "You can buy this tape at the same time it's available to rent for the cost of five rentals!"

asterion
07-25-2007, 09:43 PM
Are you sure about this? The way I heard it was that Blockbuster fought Sell-Thru pricing tooth and nail, but Wal-Mart fought back and won with the studios. Blockbuster makes (made) a lot more from each rental copy than they do with sales, even when the higher prices were in effect.
I sort of had the feeling that you're right, but Wikipedia claims something else. So, I'm not sure who actually forced it, but we should all be happy about it.

Anyone got proof one way or the other?

WhyNot
07-25-2007, 09:45 PM
I sort of had the feeling that you're right, but Wikipedia claims something else. So, I'm not sure who actually forced it, but we should all be happy about it.

Anyone got proof one way or the other?
Proof? Well, no, other than working there at the time and hearing my very nervous District Manager moaning about it. ;)

Little Plastic Ninja
07-25-2007, 10:32 PM
I remember desperately wanting to own a certain movie released in 1994 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It was released in April the next year, I believe, but at rental prices -- that is, the first minute it was available it was something like $129. We worked out that we could rent it something like a dozen or two times, anyway, for as much as it would cost to buy. We still considered it, though. :D

I also remember being able to rent a VCR, though. It was expected -- I think you put a huge deposit down, more than you'd actually spend on a VCR today, and pay something like $10 a night?

lissener
07-25-2007, 10:39 PM
I sort of had the feeling that you're right, but Wikipedia claims something else. So, I'm not sure who actually forced it, but we should all be happy about it.

Anyone got proof one way or the other?
I remember when Prince released Purple Rain for $19.95, it was expected to set the industry on its ear, so I kind of date the revolution (hah!) from that event.

kath94
07-25-2007, 10:56 PM
The first NEW video that I ever bought (or rather, it was given to me by some friends) was one of the Indiana Jones series. Might even have been "Raiders of the Lost Ark." I remember this was a big deal, it was "priced for purchase," and ran $39.95. What a deal! Really, we thought it was.

Before that, back in the 70's, I think it was, we thought it was the best bargain to rent a movie for $5 a pop, for ONE day, and that was after finding a rental store and turning over all personal information just for the privilege.

Of course, at the time my brother considered himself a genius for having a Beta machine, because that meant that he'd have a better chance at finding the movies he wanted in stock @ the local shop, because "everyone else" was scrambling for VHS rentals. Way to go, bro!

Scarlett67
07-25-2007, 11:20 PM
I also remember being able to rent a VCR, though. It was expected -- I think you put a huge deposit down, more than you'd actually spend on a VCR today, and pay something like $10 a night?
I vaguely recall a friend plopping down a $200 deposit on a rented VCR.

denquixote
07-25-2007, 11:32 PM
Actually when the first vcrs came out in the 1970's it cost $24.95 for one blank tape (and the recording quality was crap.) I bought several movies at that time or a little later made by a company called "Magnetic Video" for about $50. Time-Life also had a lot of video "bargains" out there. I still have my copy of "The Sorrow and the Pity" for which I paid $80 (I think.)

Also the first recording machine I saw for sale was in San Francisco in the early 70's and was an all-in-one television and betamax selling for $2500.

BlakeTyner
07-25-2007, 11:40 PM
Indeed. When my father bought our first VCR in the early '80s from Curtis-Mathis, the very first video he bought for my mother was "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

And the two-tiered system did last, at least for some releases, well into the '90s. I remember trying to obtain a copy of "Mr Holland's Opus" for my mother when it was available to rent, and couldn't. At least not for less than a hundred bucks. I finally conned Blockbuster into selling me one previously viewed copy, but it was seriously a hassle.

sweepkick
07-25-2007, 11:59 PM
I grew up in the 80's ... does anyone remember the disc-type rental medium that was about the size of an LP, but was encased in a plastic case? I'm not talking laser discs... it was years before that. You rented the players and the discs... and, if i'm recalling right, the player was like 8.00 a night and the discs were 5.00 each.

Pretty reasonable at the time i guess. We rented plenty of them and I recall times staying up all night watching these movies that we rented (probably because they were due back the next day sharp :).

Was this just a rental thing, or did people actually buy these players, buy the movies and have libraries?

The only movie I specifically remember watching in this format was Streets of Fire (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088194/)

Equipoise
07-26-2007, 12:14 AM
Actually when the first vcrs came out in the 1970's it cost $24.95 for one blank tape (and the recording quality was crap.) True on the price, but not completely on the quality, at least, not the ones my husband bought. His mother bought a VTR (many people referred to them as Video Tape Recorders back then) in 1978 and he paid that much for blank tapes to tape music videos (long before MTV started) on shows like Rockline. We met in late 1982 and he was the only person I knew who had a VTR. We still have all those original tapes (plus a few thousand besides) and they all still work (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=postingoldtapes&search=Search) (link is to some of the things he's put on YouTube). He, and later, we, always used the slowest recording speed to get as much as we could on the tapes (generally 3 HBO movies would fit per tape...I cringe to think about it).

The first pre-recorded movies we bought were One From The Heart (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0084445/), and then Return To Oz (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0089908/). Both were around $80.

cochrane
07-26-2007, 12:30 AM
I grew up in the 80's ... does anyone remember the disc-type rental medium that was about the size of an LP, but was encased in a plastic case? I'm not talking laser discs... it was years before that. You rented the players and the discs... and, if i'm recalling right, the player was like 8.00 a night and the discs were 5.00 each.

Pretty reasonable at the time i guess. We rented plenty of them and I recall times staying up all night watching these movies that we rented (probably because they were due back the next day sharp :).

Was this just a rental thing, or did people actually buy these players, buy the movies and have libraries?

The only movie I specifically remember watching in this format was Streets of Fire (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088194/)
sweepkick, are you thinking of the RCA SelectaVision (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitance_Electronic_Disc)? It wasn't a laser disc, but rather used a stylus and groove for playback and came encased in a caddy which you put in the machine so your fingers never touched the disc. They were available for both rental and consumer purchase, but RCA didn't make much profit on the system and discontinued it in 1986.

Savannah
07-26-2007, 12:44 AM
I grew up in the 80's ... does anyone remember the disc-type rental medium that was about the size of an LP, but was encased in a plastic case? I'm not talking laser discs... it was years before that. You rented the players and the discs... and, if i'm recalling right, the player was like 8.00 a night and the discs were 5.00 each. YES.

Not laser discs, and it was back in about 1983 or 1984, maybe even earlier. Our family would rent movies--and the player, too. It was pre-VCR-era, before they were common household objects.

I thought it was just me who remembered that format. Definitely LP size, plastic was involved, and it was not a laser disc. I've even tried to Google obsolete formats without success just to figure out what it was. It didn't last long--my mother wanted a VCR, got one, and never looked back.

Savannah
07-26-2007, 12:47 AM
sweepkick, are you thinking of the RCA SelectaVision (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitance_Electronic_Disc)? That sure looks like what I vaguely remember. We're not nuts! (Everyone told me I was thinking of laser discs, and I wasn't.)

Savannah
07-26-2007, 01:06 AM
...and here's a fun site. (http://www.totalrewind.org/mainhall.htm) Interesting stuff!

kaylasdad99
07-26-2007, 01:23 AM
We got our first VCR in 1985, IIRC. One of the first movies we bought was a pre-rented copy of Gandhi. $80.00.

Voyager
07-26-2007, 02:33 AM
And the two-tiered system did last, at least for some releases, well into the '90s. I remember trying to obtain a copy of "Mr Holland's Opus" for my mother when it was available to rent, and couldn't. At least not for less than a hundred bucks. I finally conned Blockbuster into selling me one previously viewed copy, but it was seriously a hassle.
Indeed. My daughter wanted Shanghai Noon for her birthday, but it was almost $100.

We rented our first VCR around 1983, just to see if we liked it. They were reasonably expensive back then. Also, almost all video stores were locally owned then. Smaller selection, but more eclectic.

Johnny Hildo
07-26-2007, 02:45 AM
Some things I remember from my youth:

When The Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released on video, it was selling at Target for $79.95.

In the mid-80s, I can remember the first movie I ever bought: Alice, Sweet Alice, starring a young Brooke Shields. I only bought it because it sold for $5.27, cheaper than the price of a blank tape. Hey, I can tape over it, I thought. Though, even then they were putting out tapes that were only as long as the length of the movie.

denquixote
07-26-2007, 03:32 AM
True on the price, but not completely on the quality, at least, not the ones my husband bought. His mother bought a VTR (many people referred to them as Video Tape Recorders back then) in 1978 and he paid that much for blank tapes to tape music videos (long before MTV started) on shows like Rockline. We met in late 1982 and he was the only person I knew who had a VTR. We still have all those original tapes (plus a few thousand besides) and they all still work (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=postingoldtapes&search=Search) (link is to some of the things he's put on YouTube). He, and later, we, always used the slowest recording speed to get as much as we could on the tapes (generally 3 HBO movies would fit per tape...I cringe to think about it).

The first pre-recorded movies we bought were One From The Heart (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0084445/), and then Return To Oz (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0089908/). Both were around $80.


Well, I don't know the difference betweent a vcr and a vtr so maybe the quality of the vcr was my problem, but my first recorder was made by rca (i am sure it was the same as japanese version jvc) as were the tapes. By recording at a higher speed, which limited you to one movie per tape you could improve the quality, but like you i put 3 movies on one tape, which was my own fault, but who could afford 25 bucks to record one movie?

longhair75
07-26-2007, 07:03 AM
I remember one morning at work. A guy came in and wanted to buy the fire extiguishers he needed for his business. While someone went back to get them, my boss asked the guy what kind of business he was opening. The guy replied he was opening a store where people could rent video tapes and players. After he left the boss told me the new business would never make it.....

CalMeacham
07-26-2007, 07:12 AM
I remember going into my first video store (for buying, not renting) back in late 1982 or early 1983. Very limited selection, and all very expensive.

As I recall, the first straight-to-$19.95 movie was Top Gun, and they made a very big deal about it. Pepsi sponsored the cheap release, and it was heavily promoted on TV.

Pithy Moniker
07-26-2007, 07:29 AM
I was a kid during the 80s but I have memories of one blank VCR tape being a fantastic birthday\Christmas present.

Kalhoun
07-26-2007, 07:33 AM
I was around back then, but didn't get a VCR of my own for several years. However, I seem to vaguely recall seeing prices in the three figure range? Am I remebering correctly?
I bought a movie for an old boyfriend and it cost me $70. (Eraserhead, if anyone's interested). That was in the early 80s.

Our first video rental account required a $100 deposit before they'd let you rent.

CalMeacham
07-26-2007, 07:42 AM
I bought a movie for an old boyfriend and it cost me $70. (Eraserhead, if anyone's interested).



Eraserhead??



Is this why he's an old boyfriend now?

Cluricaun
07-26-2007, 08:06 AM
I remember when Fangoria started carrying ads for VHS tape sales and some of those movies (which had limited releases to begin with) could run into the $200 to $300 dollar range for a single tape.

I also remeber conning my parents into buying a copy of Monster Squad for like $80, which we watched approximately 35 billion times.

Nutty Bunny
07-26-2007, 08:12 AM
Not laser discs, and it was back in about 1983 or 1984, maybe even earlier. Our family would rent movies--and the player, too. It was pre-VCR-era, before they were common household objects.

I thought it was just me who remembered that format. Definitely LP size, plastic was involved, and it was not a laser disc. I've even tried to Google obsolete formats without success just to figure out what it was. It didn't last long--my mother wanted a VCR, got one, and never looked back.

I don't remember what they were called (video disc?), but I remember watching "Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan" on that format at computer camp in 1983.

fishbicycle
07-26-2007, 08:46 AM
I remember that RCA Selectavision put out The Beatles' "Let It Be" on that disc format to entice people to buy a machine to watch it. It had never been in public release before. (And except for a very limited issue on VHS, it hasn't been issued since.) I have a videotape of the CED disc, during which the stylus skipped through about 8 minutes of the movie. That was one of the drawbacks of the format.

asterion
07-26-2007, 08:56 AM
Indeed. My daughter wanted Shanghai Noon for her birthday, but it was almost $100.
And, of course, I bought Shanghai Noon (good movie for what it is) for less than $20 on DVD a couple weeks after it was released. (It was one of the first DVDs I got after I got my PS2 on launch day.) Were they really still charging that much for a VHS release in 2000?

You've gotta understand, the last set of VHS I bought was Gunbuster several years ago, when it looked like Magna would never get around to releasing it on DVD. Oh, and the pilot of Stargate SG-1, before the season DVD releases started. (It was less than $10 and I had seen every Season 1 episode in syndication except the pilot.)

JohnT
07-26-2007, 09:25 AM
I sort of had the feeling that you're right, but Wikipedia claims something else. So, I'm not sure who actually forced it, but we should all be happy about it.

Anyone got proof one way or the other?

It was Wal-Mart. The big fight between them and BBV occurred in the late 1990's when DVD's were announced - WMT wanted them "priced to sell" and BBV wanted them "priced to rent."

My cites are a bunch of long-remembered Wall Street Journal articles about this at the time.

Ike Witt
07-26-2007, 09:38 AM
Hell, 7-10 years ago, before it came out on DVD, a VHS copy of Akira Kurosawa's Dreams cost $95.

Ms Boods
07-26-2007, 10:06 AM
I remember that RCA Selectavision put out The Beatles' "Let It Be" on that disc format to entice people to buy a machine to watch it. It had never been in public release before. (And except for a very limited issue on VHS, it hasn't been issued since.) I have a videotape of the CED disc, during which the stylus skipped through about 8 minutes of the movie. That was one of the drawbacks of the format.

I have a copy of that VHS Let It Be; my mum paid $150 for it in 1981, and it was meant to be a birthday present (September) and since she had to order it through the shop, there was a slight wait. I got it the following January. I still have it :cool: (I also still have the receipt somewhere, packed in a box my storage area.)

I recall also that she bought (again ordered) Romeo and Juliet, and it was also up around $150, and several months' wait.

Around the same time, a friend and I drove to a video shop to rent a film, and since neither of us had a credit card (we were only 16 and 17) to guarantee the return of the film, the guy demanded our driving licences as collateral!

FriarTed
07-26-2007, 10:15 AM
I also remeber conning my parents into buying a copy of Monster Squad for like $80, which we watched approximately 35 billion times.

THAT REMINDS ME!!!!

It's supposed to have come out two days ago on DVD. I have to check that tonight when I go to work (I work at a place that's initialled W.M.)

Mahaloth
07-26-2007, 10:25 AM
THAT REMINDS ME!!!!

It's supposed to have come out two days ago on DVD. I have to check that tonight when I go to work (I work at a place that's initialled W.M.)

So....we can't say Wal Mart on the Dope?

:confused:

jk1245
07-26-2007, 10:26 AM
I bought a Sanyo Beta VCR (complete with "Sanyo- The Official Electronic Products of the 1984 Olympics" sticker) for ~$600 in early 1984. I was 12 and had a paper route. I had saved up for it for several months, my first ever big purchase.

I then joined a video rental place. There was an initiation fee and a monthly cost too, plus the cost of renting tapes. They had a couple copies of the big name movies, plus a bunch of offbeat titles.

Then, the damn place closed down after about 6 months., and I was out my money.

My VCR had a 3 day 1 event timer. I used it to tape "Saturday Night Live", since I couldn't stay up to watch it since I had to be up at 4:30 for my paper route. I still remember the first time I set it. It was bizarely complicated, none of this onscreen "Saturday from 10:30-12" stuff. So you set it and hoped you did it right.

My first Sunday morning after my route, when I cued it up and heard Don Pardo and was able to watch SNL when I wanted (and FF the commercials!), was nothing short of magic though.

JohnT
07-26-2007, 10:32 AM
So....we can't say Wal Mart on the Dope?

:confused:

Not if you want to be "in" with the cool kids. Dontcha know anything??? Geez! ;)

Potato Pancakes
07-26-2007, 10:33 AM
This is fascinating to me. I'm not too young that I wasn't around for this, but I don't recall the prices of VHS tapes in the 80's. I'm sure it's because I was a kid and didn't concern myself with buying stuff like that. I remember when I was like five or so my parents would rent a VCR so my sister and I could watch Wizard of Oz. Then as we got a little older and got our own VCR, my uncle who had 2 VCR's (Wow! Rich!) would copy movies for us and send us tapes.

Johnny Hildo
07-26-2007, 10:34 AM
I bought several movies at that time or a little later made by a company called "Magnetic Video" for about $50.


Wow, this brings back memories. I don't know why, but back in the day, whenever I rented a movie that was put out by Magnetic Video I always experienced a picture rolling problem with the tapes. I don't know if it was because of the age of tapes themselves, but they were the only distributor I ever had that kind of problem with.

FriarTed
07-26-2007, 10:50 AM
So....we can't say Wal Mart on the Dope?

:confused:

We can- I just want to be cryptic :D

Voyager
07-26-2007, 11:25 AM
And, of course, I bought Shanghai Noon (good movie for what it is) for less than $20 on DVD a couple weeks after it was released. (It was one of the first DVDs I got after I got my PS2 on launch day.) Were they really still charging that much for a VHS release in 2000?

Not most of them. IIRC, we looked for it on sale in stores, and it never showed up. I think we finally checked Amazon, or someplace else on line, and found how expensive it was. No wonder the stores didn't try to sell it.

Sarahfeena
07-26-2007, 11:28 AM
I remember that RCA Selectavision put out The Beatles' "Let It Be" on that disc format to entice people to buy a machine to watch it. It had never been in public release before. (And except for a very limited issue on VHS, it hasn't been issued since.) I have a videotape of the CED disc, during which the stylus skipped through about 8 minutes of the movie. That was one of the drawbacks of the format. I remember a friend of mine got a hold of Let it Be somehow, and we got permission from our high school to watch it there. I don't remember the format it was on, or why we couldn't watch it at home. It was about 1983, and I'm sure we had a VCR by then, but maybe not, or maybe it was on one of these Selectavision discs, but I can't believe my school would have had the machine.

In any case, we were VERY excited to watch it, and to this day, it's the only time I've seen the entire film.

NailBunny
07-26-2007, 11:36 AM
Many years ago, before DVD's, I tried to purchase a video copy of PCU from Suncoast and was informed that due to some kind of glitch, the price had never come down from when it was initially released and if I wanted to buy it I was looking at about $120.00. I decided that while I enjoyed the movie, I did not enjoy it that much.

Lloyd Kaufman has some amusing stories about the early days of video stores in his book Everything I need to know about filmmaking I learned from the Toxic Avenger, and how that's really the reason that Troma became successful, because the owners were so desperate to filll their stores with anything at all. "Got a documentary about elephants farting? We'll take it!" :D

stanger
07-26-2007, 12:08 PM
I got my first VCR sometime around 1980 or so, a Quasar unit with a 1-week, 1-event timer that was as difficult to program as described in an earlier post. At the local discount electronics store (was Frisco Electronics a national chain?) it cost $1000. My buddy bought the same model without the timer for $600. No FF or REV, top-loader, and weighs about 30 lbs. Still works, though.

The only place that had blank tapes was the stores that sold the machines, and a decent Maxell blank tape was $16.95.

At first, only the stores selling VCRs had movies for sale. After a while, large music stores (vinyl only at that time) started selling blank tapes and rentals. Soon every little gas station and convenience store had a couple of shelves of tapes for rent. Most people rented their movies at their local supermarket. It wasn't for some time before video sales and rental stores like BlockBuster started opening up.

I never bought a movie on video tape before the DVD became common - they were too darn expensive. As other have said, $100-$125 was normal for a first release on VHS, even for flops. Guess they tried to make their money back on VHS sales. Big successful movies were often $75-$90.

MaxTheVool
07-26-2007, 12:22 PM
I remember desperately wanting to own a certain movie released in 1994 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Interview with the Vampire? The Mask? Speed? Dumb and Dumber? The Santa Clause?

JSexton
07-26-2007, 12:26 PM
Yeah, there's several movies that never had the price reduced. Good luck finding a copy of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead on VHS. Almost guaranteed to be a rental copy if you do. Thank god it finally came out on DVD, because my ancient VHS copy (promotional, has a little text scroll all along the bottom telling you not sell it) is about worn out.

Tuckerfan
07-26-2007, 12:37 PM
Yeah, there's several movies that never had the price reduced. Good luck finding a copy of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead on VHS. Almost guaranteed to be a rental copy if you do. Thank god it finally came out on DVD, because my ancient VHS copy (promotional, has a little text scroll all along the bottom telling you not sell it) is about worn out.
Heck, I've seen new DVD movies going for that price! I did a search some time back for Salome's Last Dance and the only place selling them wanted $100 a pop.

Lambo
07-26-2007, 01:18 PM
I remember one morning at work. A guy came in and wanted to buy the fire extiguishers he needed for his business. While someone went back to get them, my boss asked the guy what kind of business he was opening. The guy replied he was opening a store where people could rent video tapes and players. After he left the boss told me the new business would never make it.....

[Paul Harvey]

That man's name was...Phil Blockbuster. And now you know the REST of the story.

[/PH]

UntouchedTakeaway
07-26-2007, 01:24 PM
Yes. I clearly remember ordering Clint Eastwood's "The Beguiled" on VHS when I worked at WaldenBooks - $99.00. I was in college in Gainesville, so this would have been somewhere between 1979 & 1982.


VCNJ~

Yorikke
07-26-2007, 01:36 PM
Hell, in the days toward the end of VHS, when DVDs were arriving on the scene, I, working at a video store at the time, often had to pay $75.00 for a new release video. In fact, I'd say MOST new release videos were that expensive, as of 2002. Only kids' movies were routinely priced at sell-through at first release. I remember a customer melting the movie Crash (David Cronenberg) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115964/) and having to pay $106.99 for a replacement copy, in about the year 2000. That's our cost from the video distributor, not a retail price.

Joe

Wee Bairn
07-26-2007, 02:09 PM
I remember a customer melting the movie Crash (David Cronenberg) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115964/) and having to pay $106.99 for a replacement copy, in about the year 2000. That's our cost from the video distributor, not a retail price.

Joe

That movie was HOT- maybe it melted on its own. :)

BobLibDem
07-26-2007, 02:18 PM
I remember having to sign a credit card slip for $100 each and every time I rented a movie. When you brought it back, they tore up your credit slip.

Otto
07-26-2007, 02:30 PM
I bought a Sanyo Beta VCR (complete with "Sanyo- The Official Electronic Products of the 1984 Olympics" sticker) for ~$600 in early 1984.
That was my first VCR too! Same sticker and everything. I still have it in my basement storage room. I don't think I ever rented a tape for it but I must've had close to a thousand movies and TV shows taped. All sadly now gone.

kunilou
07-26-2007, 09:15 PM
I remember having to sign a credit card slip for $100 each and every time I rented a movie. When you brought it back, they tore up your credit slip.

I held off buying a VCR until the price dropped below $400. When I finally got my $399.95 special (top loader, with little pushbutton tuning buttons and a 6-foot long wired on/off remote control) I ran right out to the one place I knew rented videotapes.

I had to put a $400 deposit on my credit card just to get a membership card. Not to mention the rentals themselves were something like $10.95 each.

Johnny Hildo
07-27-2007, 02:52 AM
Where I was from, you didn't even have to flash ID or leave a deposit or anything. You just filled out a card, and they gave you a movie. My first ever rental was Firestarter. Then there was that store that let 14-year-olds like me rent pornos...

Scissorjack
07-27-2007, 05:42 AM
Or porn. There was always some sort of porn available on that one shelf behind the curtain which had the sign that said "Adults Only" on it.

It was slim pickings in the early days.

Slim Pickens did porn?

Little Plastic Ninja
07-27-2007, 08:01 AM
Interview with the Vampire? The Mask? Speed? Dumb and Dumber? The Santa Clause?

One of those, yes.

I beg that you assume some level of taste on my part.

I was young! I needed the obsession!

Ludovic
07-27-2007, 08:38 AM
Slim Pickens did porn?Yeeeeeeeehaw!

Uncommon Sense
07-27-2007, 08:52 AM
Quite serious. This was during a time when there were exactly two video rental stores in a metro area of 1.2 million people.
Was one of them called Nord Video?

jk1245
07-27-2007, 09:18 AM
Was one of them called Nord Video?


:eek:

That's the one that took my hard earned paper route money and then vanished after about 6 months.

Tristan
07-27-2007, 10:27 AM
My wife's family owned and ran a video store in thate 80's and early 90's in a small town in Montana. It took me awhile to understand that she really meant the prices when we discussed buying copies of movies for the home.

They got out of the business right when walmart started selling DVD's and tapes for around $20.

But yeah, the companies they bought their tapes from charged around $100 per copy for those VHS tapes. She swore up and down they were built a bit more rugged than the ones you could get at the store, but who knows?

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.