The age of the VHS was a glorious time. No longer were people constrained to just watching the latest blockbusters in cinemas, people could buy or rent their very own copy of their favourite film to watch whenever they liked. Of course, compared to the likes of streaming services, the VHS is nowhere close to the realm of convenience we have today.
The Lion King Was the Best-Selling VHS of All Time
Plenty of Disney classics make up the list of the top ten VHS tapes of all time, but The Lion King took the top spot. Released in 1995, this film is not only the best-selling VHS of all time but also one of the best-selling DVDs, too. Sales of The Lion King on VHS reached 32 million copies and made around $520 million.
And this franchise doesn’t look set to slow down, with the 2019 CGI remake having become the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Could this film follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and become the best-selling Blue-Ray or most streamed film?
The First Film on VHS was a South Korean Drama
The first theatrical film released on VHS was a South Korean drama called The Young Teacher, it was released in 1972. The film revolves around a teacher organising a volleyball game to boost school spirit and self-confidence while fighting with the conservative school board and chauvinistic principal.
The home video release was in 1976, the same year as the VHS itself, and no one is sure why this was the first film to be given the VHS treatment.
There is One Blockbuster Still Open
The younger generations might only know Blockbuster from references in old films and TV shows, but throughout the 90s it was a top provider of home movie rental services. Families would head down to Blockbuster on a Friday night to rent a VHS, and then later a DVD. Soon, however, Blockbuster just couldn’t compete with the rise of streaming and the market shift towards DVD ownership rather than renting.
At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster had more than 9,000 stores in the US until they all began to close. But did you know there is one physical Blockbuster store in the entire world that still exists? It’s in Bend, Oregon, a city with a population just shy of 100,000. It seems to stay alive and kicking thanks to its mix of stable finances, loyal customers and nostalgic tourists.
The VHS was Invented by JVC
Victor Company of Japan (JVC) are known for their camcorders and televisions, but did you know that they are the company behind developing the VHS? In the late 70s, JVC developed the format to compete against Sony’s Betamax home videocassette tape, creating a format war. Due to the VHS’s superior recording time, it came out on top and, by 1986, Betamax had just a 7.5% of the market share in the UK.
Both would eventually succumb to the superiority of laser-based technology, but the VHS was a force to be reckoned with.
Some Films Were Sold on Two Cassettes
While the VHS could store longer recordings than Betamax, it just couldn’t compete against today’s DVDs and Blu-Rays. After all, some VHS releases were done on two separate cassettes due to the length of the film!
That’s right, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Great Escape, The Sound of Music, The Godfather, Nashville, Scarface, JFK, Malcolm X and Titanic all had to be released across two VHS tapes due to their recording size. Just imagine having your film cut out in the middle and having to change tapes to continue watching; it’s substantially more of an effort than pressing the “Continue watching” button on Netflix’s “Are you still watching?” notification.
VHS Tapes are Worth Money
If you happen to have old VHS tapes of major films lying around, you could sell them for a significant amount. A 1999 VHS copy of Disney’s Mulan recently sold for £11,800 (AUD 21,111) in Australia.
In fact, a quick trawl through eBay shows that many VHS copies of classic films (especially Disney films) are being auctioned off for hundreds, potentially even thousands. So, don’t be so quick to toss out those old films, they could be worth a bob or two.
The Last Major Film Released on VHS was in 2006
No major film studios issue releases on VHS anymore, and the last film to be released was A History of Violence in 2006. The film is about the owner of a diner being thrust into the spotlight after confronting two robbers in self-defence.
There have been more recent VHS releases than this, but these were as part of special marketing promotions, such as The House of the Devil, released on VHS in 2010 to mimic 1980s horror films.
There Was a VHS-Blu-Ray Player
Remember those old VHS and DVD dual players? Well, did you know that there was briefly a version with a Blu-Ray player? That’s right! It was made by Panasonic in 2009 as an acknowledgement of the continued use of VHS in developing countries.
The Last VCR was Made in 2016
While it may seem like VHS tapes and players haven’t existed for a long time, amazingly the last VCR was actually manufactured in 2016. It was produced by Funai, a Japanese electronics company; they cited declining sales and difficulty obtaining the necessary parts as the reason for the cease in production.