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5 Things You Might Not Know about VHS Tapes

By Dillon Wallace

Are you a Gen Xer or an older millennial that grew up making Friday nights Blockbuster night? Renting the latest movie releases or picking old favorites to binge watch before binging was a thing.


If that sounds like you, then you’re probably thinking you know quite a bit about the little two-spoke rectangle piece of black plastic that requires you to “Be kind, rewind” when you’re finished watching. 


Am I right?


Well, then this article about “Five Things You Might Not Know About VHS Tapes” will hopefully blow your mind. Okay, that’s probably a bit overzealous, but maybe it will at least make you go, “Hmm, I didn’t know that.” So, let’s go!


You-Might-Not-Know Fact # 1: King of VHS sales

On June 24,1994, Disney released The Lion King to theaters everywhere. Almost a full year later (because we used to have to wait that long for a theater release to be adapted to video) on March 3, 1995, the VHS version of The Lion King was released. It would go on to become the best-selling VHS of all time moving 32 million copies sold at around $520 million in sales. Wow, no wonder they didn’t have any worries. Who needs “hakuna matata” when you’re making that kind of money?


You-Might-Not-Know Fact #2: The Last Blockbuster

After decades of being the go-to destination for home movie rentals, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2010. Just four years later, all corporate-owned stores called it quits … except for one. In the quaint town of Bend, Oregon, the 100,000 residents refused to say goodbye to the blue and yellow video renter. What was once a 9,000+ corporate chain, now only has one link left, but it’s still holding strong.


You Might-Not-Know Fact #3: A pile of nostalgia worth money

VHS tapes haven’t been relevant in nearly twenty years, but that doesn’t mean your dusty collection isn’t worth some serious coin. If time has taught us anything, it’s that nostalgia is a powerful vehicle for making money. Toys, comics, records, and yes, even VHS tapes, can net you some nice cash if you’ve got the right tape and the right buyer. In fact, a 1999 copy of Disney’s Mulan sold to a collector in Deltona for $21,111 back in 2019.


If you’ve got a stack of old Disney films (are you seeing a theme here?), in particular, then you might be in a good situation to make some money off your favorite childhood cartoons.


You Might-Not-Know Fact #4: A History of Violence becomes ancient history

Do you know what the last major film released on VHS was? Would you believe it if I told you it’s been 15 years since it was released? Because that’s the truth. In 2006, Viggo Mortensen’s A History of Violence became the last major Hollywood movie released on VHS. Sure, there have been other “movies” released on VHS after 2006 (namely part of special marketing promotions, smaller production houses, etc.), but A History of Violence was the last major film to grace our VCRs.


The story is about an ex-hitman/mobster who has shed his life of violence for the tranquility of family and small town living. That is until his past comes back to catch up with him. In a way, it’s a film that provides an almost ironic twist of fate for the VHS. The VHS beat out the Betamax in the first ever format war and lived peacefully as king for twenty or so years … until the DVD came back to beat it in a new format war.


You Might-Not-Know Fact #5: Three generations of video in one player?

As you probably already know, the DVD eventually overtook the VHS for its own 20-year reign atop the home theater industry before Blu-Ray showed up, conversely overtaking it. But, did you know that Panasonic released a VHS-Blu-Ray player that came out in 2009? We all remember the VCR/DVD player combos but a VHS-Blu-Ray player? Now that’s a technological unicorn in its own right. And if you’re asking, “why did they ever make such a thing?” It’s because even though VHS had stopped releasing major movies in 2006 (as we already learned), VHS was still being widely used in developing countries. So, Panasonic thought – why not slap a little bit of new with a little bit of old? I’m sure trying to convert VHS faithfuls onto the Blu-Ray wagon had nothing to do with it ...

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