“The Killer Shrews,” the masterwork of Ray Kellogg, is one of hundreds of cheap old films now available as ridiculously cheap new DVD’s. Because of lapsed or improperly registered copyrights, even some very watchable movies – among them, Howard Hawks’s “His Girl Friday,” Marlon Brando’s “One-Eyed Jacks” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dementia 13” – are now in the public domain and can be sold by anyone.
While overall DVD sales are robust – last year retailers sold $15.5 billion in discs – the low-end market is positively booming. Recently, 19 of the 50 top sellers on the Nielsen VideoScan national sales charts were budget DVD’s. “The prices are irresistible,” said Gary Delfiner, whose Global Multimedia Corporation offers 60 film, cartoon and television titles with prices ranging from 99 cents to $1.99.