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DVD: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

25 Feb, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

We have a new national currency, and it's called DVD.

One studio executive I know keeps his son's pediatrician plied with DVDs to ensure primo treatment. “I've even got his personal cell-phone number,” the executive boasts.

Talk of trading DVDs for home theater equipment has become quite pervasive among Hollywood's studio set. And I admit, even I have gotten in on the game, tipping my gardeners and pool technicians with surplus DVDs. Heck, I even slip Wine Guy — a friend who is wine buyer for an upscale chain of wine stores in San Diego — some new DVDs each week in exchange for a case of tasting bottles that I share with our staff.

Everyone with access to DVDs has caught on to the public's infatuation and uses them to barter for other goods and services, it seems. And those on the receiving end — babysitters, contractors, even jewelers — are only too happy to oblige.

Nearly eight years after launch, DVD hasn't really lost any of its magic. People want to own those shiny little five-inch discs, and see a real value in them — something they never really with VHS cassettes, no matter how fancy the packaging.

The only downside is that if DVD was a currency, our economists would be howling over devaluation. The mass merchants, with their loss-leader attitude toward the hits, have driven down the price of hot new DVDs to below $15. And on the catalog end, forget it — again, the mass merchants, led by Wal-Mart, demanded, and got, plenty of fodder for their $5 dump bins, so that now you can get virtually any classic movie for about the same as a Big Mac and a soda.

Hmmm. I just thought of something.

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