Strategic moves in the disc war

While there’s still no telling whether the American public will ever trade in VHS for DVD as its home-video format of choice, laserdisc, long the connoisseur’s choice, is certainly feeling pressure from the Little Disc That Might. The market for laserdiscs has been in a slide since the debut last spring of DVD. Now some laser prices are dipping, too. “I’ve got titles coming out like The Longest Day,” says Rodney Jackson, video buyer for New York City’s Virgin Megastore in Times Square, “all marked down from $60 to $40.”

Still, such tags don’t begin to match DVD prices, which are generally $24.95 to $29.95 for new studio releases, and as low as $12.99 for the public-domain and B-movie properties that some labels are dredging up to get shelf space. Picture quality on cheapies like John Travolta’s 1976 TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (Essex) is often no better than that of VHS. But caveat emptor and God bless! While music CDs continue to creep up in price, CD-size DVDs are in a position to keep the lid on costs for laser collectors.