The old VHS and DVD releases that’ll cost exorbitant amounts to buy now

Evil Dead
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After reporting that a VHS copy of The Terminator sold for over $30,000, we’ve dug into just how much rare and discontinued physical media is selling for.

In a world of streaming where titles can appear and disappear, physical media remains a crucial way for us to own and keep the films we love. But how far would you go to get hold of something that’s rare or out of print? We recently reported that an old (but in good condition) VHS copy of The Terminator sold for over $30,000. The tape was a first edition print, which explains why the price was quite so high. In response to that landmark sale, we’ve done some digging around to see what other rare and discontinued physical media is selling for online. You might be in for a bit of a shock.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Image: eBay

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) – Limited edition DVD with metal case and activity book

I know Star Wars fans can be extremely passionate, but the price on this one seems a bit much. On eBay, the asking price for this limited edition DVD of The Clone Wars animated film is £654, 550.07.  The movie serves as a prequel to the seven-season TV show which, in this Star Wars fan’s humble opinion, is at least ten times better than this film. Still, the one on sale here has a metal case imbued with a limited edition number, and has an activity book inside. I doubt anyone is seriously considering buying this, but it’s worth pointing out that the ordinary DVD and Blu-ray of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is still readily available on Amazon at a much smaller price.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989) – Black Diamond VHS with original cover art

You may have heard the story of The Little Mermaid's banned cover art, where one of the towers of the castle in the background looks like a certain part of the male anatomy. This was quickly noticed and changed in 1990, meaning that there are few original copies of the cover art in circulation. These original ‘black diamond’ VHS tapes are being sold online for thousands of pounds. The name comes from the black diamond symbol at the top of the spine. This one on Etsy is going for £30,691.32. Of the course, the original film is far from out of print, so the appeal of this one is purely the childish giggles you might get from showing the cover to your friends.

The Little Mermaid

Image: Etsy

Other Disney Black Diamond VHS tapes – Beauty And The Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992)

While not all of Disney’s original VHS tapes are equally valuable, there are a couple of others that are fairly popular with online sellers. Most listings value Beauty And The Beast at around £750-£1000, though this listing is asking for £4,305.50.

1992’s Aladdin is valued about the same (around £1000), but most of the listings are (understandably) out of their original packaging. In the case of this VHS that’s still in its shrink wrap, the asking price is an incredible £7,312.14. I’m just surprised that someone once bought a Disney film and never once watched it.

20th Century Fox Complete Studio Classics Collection with Travel Case (DVD)

This is a collection of 70 of 20th Century Fox’s classic films on DVD – complete with a fun travel case to store them in. The set includes an eclectic mix of films from the studio’s catalogue, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Fly, and The Mark Of Zorro. It’s selling on eBay for £899.99. Now that Disney has bought 20th Century Fox and owns its back catalogue, collections like this became even more sought after.

20th Century Fox DVD collection

Image: eBay

The Evil Dead (1981) – Filmways Home Video VHS

While your average VHS of The Evil Dead is perfectly affordable, we found a rare copy with the name ‘Filmways Home Video’ on the front cover. It sounds pretty normal, except the Filmways label was only active from 1988-1989. It was owned by Orion Home Video, which stopped using the Filmways name on their VHS tapes after only a year. The film itself might not be rare, but this specific VHS definitely is. The seller is asking for £883.29.

D.W Griffith Masterworks Collection – 7 disc DVD box set

Lots of classical films are still easily available on physical media – take most of Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography or films starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. D.W Griffith is another influential figure in film history, but his films are slightly harder to come by on DVD. At £111.34, this box set of some of his early work is not nearly as pricey as other products on this list – I suspect the inclusion of the notorious A Birth Of A Nation may be what’s bringing the value down. Other films in the set include Broken Blossoms and Intolerance. 

Among these rarer items are some listings that are asking way too much for the standard editions of films (some not even out of print). If you look you’ll see someone selling Jim Carrey’s Yes Man for £1,000. But the number of expensive, rare items on online selling platforms, and the sale of the first edition VHS of The Terminator, just goes to show the lengths some people will go to to get their hands on things that aren’t widely available anymore. With supermarkets starting to close their physical media aisles and title’s places on streaming services tenuous at best, we’d better hope that the physical media industry itself keeps going strong…

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