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

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?

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.

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)

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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”?

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.

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.

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.

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!”

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. :wink:

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. :smiley:

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 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.

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!

I vaguely recall a friend plopping down a $200 deposit on a rented VCR.

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.