December 17th, 2004


Dollar DVDs article in USA Today

Hot off the shelf: DVDs for a dollar
By Thomas K. Arnold, Special for USA TODAY

DVD prices have hit a new low: a buck.

Target Stores, Wal-Mart and other discount chains now carry $1 discs of old movies, cartoons and TV shows. They're touted as stocking stuffers.

And consumers are snapping them up. According to Videoscan, the national point-of-sale tracking service, last week, 19 of the 50 top-selling DVDs were dollar DVDs from Genius Products, a leading supplier of budget videos. Compilation iscs of Popeye cartoons and The Lucy Show episodes came in at No. 17 and No. 18, right below the Star Wars Trilogy and Dawn of the Dead.

"We get letters all the time from people, thanking us for making this great stuff available at such a low price," says Howard Balaban of Genius Products. "It's mind-boggling."

Genius, a Solana Beach, Calif.-based company best known for its Baby Genius line of $10 DVDs for infants, began releasing dollar DVDs eight months ago. The company now has a library of 180 titles. They include classic movies such as Road to Bali, vintage Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons, and compilation discs of episodes from such TV shows as Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show.

"It's a new phenomenon," says veteran home entertainment industry analyst Tom Adams. "I remember in the early 1990s, there was an uproar when McDonald's began selling videocassettes for $5 with the purchase of a Big Mac. (Traditional video retailers) accused the chain of devaluing videos."

Back then it cost about $3 to manufacture a videocassette, Adams says. Making a DVD today costs 50 cents or less.

"Consumers are not dumb. They're not going to be fooled into thinking they're getting a premium product for a dollar," Adams says. "But if you're just looking for something to watch, it's a hell of a deal."

Most dollar-DVD titles are in the public domain, which means the copyright has expired and has not been renewed. That makes them cheap to put on DVD.

The dollar-DVD market arrives after a steady decline in DVD prices across the board. Hot new theatrical releases routinely sell for less than $15 their first week of release, about half what they were going for when the format was launched in 1997. The drop-in prices for older films is even more pronounced: Wal-Mart has huge "dump bins" in its high-traffic aisles filled with DVDs selling for $5.88.

Very interesting, although I could swear it's been longer than 8 months since the genius DVDs started showing up. Huzzah to the Cheap DVD revolution! Thanks to Bob Huggins for the link.

Genius and Treasure Box Dollar DVDs in plastic cases at Dollar Tree

I'd heard something about DVDs at Dollar Tree in plastic cases over at popmusicpopculture, but I didn't have too many details until I saw them at a store near me.

There were two boxes of discs in thin plastic cases just like the Digiviews from Wal-Mart. One box was genius products releases and the other was Treasure Box. The genius discs are almost all repeats of previous paper sleeve releases, but the TV discs have 4 episodes per disc instead of 3. In most cases, these are covered by separate volumes of the paper sleeve discs, but at least one has a new episode, "The Betty White Show".

The Treasure Box discs are all movies with two movies per disc! Even better, they didn't cram both onto one side like other companies I could name *coughtreelineandgeniuscough*, it's a double-sided disc. There is no mention of Treasure Box anywhere on the cover, only this small logo:


The only mention of Tresure Box is printed on the disc itself along with which movie is on side A or B. These are the discs I was able to pick up.

Glenn Ford 2-pack - The Disappearance of Flight 412 & Casablanca Express
Yay, a bad mid-70's TV movie about UFOs and a bad late-80's Italian film about a fictional occurance during WWII! Unfortunately, only one of these has Donald Pleasance in it.

Bob Denver 2-pack - Rescue from Gilligan's Island & The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West
The first Gilligan's Island movie and, welll... I'll let the synopsision the back describe the second feature.
Hmmm. That sounds familiar. Where have I seen that before? Oh yes, it's been stolen from IMDb just like almost every other dollar DVD synopsis!
Whenever I notice this and the IMDb user has their e-mail listed, I always try to let them know. They usually think it's funny and either wonder if it's legal or are pissed that their name wasn't used.

Bruce Lee 2-pack - Fist of Fear (Touch of Death) & (Bruce Lee)The Man, the Myth
Bruceploitation for only 50 cents each! The first is a weirdly terrible docu-drama with Fred "Hammer" Williamson repeatedly being mistaken for Harry Belafonte, and the second, a fictionalized account of Bruce's life. UPDATE: I just started watching the second flick and it's not "Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth", instead it's "Fist Of Bruce Lee". And it doens't have anything to do with Bruce Lee except the title and somewhat lookalike Bruce Li. The lowest of the low in Bruceploitation.

Crusade In The Pacific, Vol. 2</b>
I didn't see a Vol. 1 in the box, but i do have this previous paper sleeve release:
It doesn't say Vol.1, but neither did the first installment of genius entertainment Jack Benny episodes either, if I remeber correclty. Here's the episode listings on the back of each:

paper sleeve

plastic case "Vol. 2"

So one episode was repeated. Also, the "Bonus Cartoon " is 1954's Popeye: "Fright to the Finish".

Well, enough of my pointless details. I'll try to get a complete list of the discs offered if I can find them again at a store closer to me.