Kartes Video Communications—early public domain film seller
New riches in old films "What sells for me is collectible and repeat-able," repeat-able," repeat-able," Jim Kartes said. And sell he does. "We've pushed 800,000 copies through my shop so far, almost all during the last four months of 1984," he said. He was speaking of video cassettes of movies movies for use on half-inch half-inch half-inch home videotape recorders, recorders, a division he. cranked up last year at his Kartes Video Communications, 10 E. 106th St. He started out reproducing tapes of 148 movie classics from the 1920s to World War II era. Since then, he acquired rights to a library of nearly 3,000 film shorts and movies from the silent picture era, dating from 1894 to 1920. "A lot of these films are in public domain," Kartes said. "Anybody can get an old print and start dubbing off copies. The trick is to get access to a good negative library and make clean, sharp copies. I have the exclusive rights for seven years to one of the best libraries." He started dubbing the cassettes in the basement of his 106th St. headquarters. By the end of 1984 his cassette business had outgrown the basement and he now has it in a new two-story two-story two-story building on West 71st St., just off 1 465. "I now have a capacity to dub 250,000 copies a month and when I get some more equipment I've ordered, I expect to up that to 300,000 to 400,000 a month," Kartes said. What sells So what were those 800,000 cassettes that were purchased during late 1984 for which Kartes charged $14.95 or $19.95 each? "We sold out of 'It's a Wonderful Life' at Christmastime," he said. That 1946 Frank Capra film was played heavily here on television before Christmas. It also was the subject of special features on "Entertainment Tonight" and "Good Morning, America," a case in which television stimulated VCR owners to run out and buy cassettes of the film. Other top sellers from the Kartes library include D. W. Griffith's 1915 classic, "Birth of a Nation," and Marlene Dietrich's 1930 "Blue Angel" Angel" With nearly 20 percent of all the homes in America now equipped with VCRs and lively sales of the tape players continuing, there's a growing market for films on cassettes. Nielsen research last year indicated new owners of VCRs buy and rent more films on cassettes than people who purchased VCRs in earlier years. Richard K. Shull And need you be reminded that when viewers viewers are watching cassettes on their VCRs they are not seeing network or cable shows or the commercials that support them? Kartes said he now has about 150 titles for sale and expects to add another 100 during this month and February. "The sales started off with people over 40 buying films they remembered," Kartes said, "but now my research shows younger people are buying." Among the new offerings he expects to release soon will be a two-cassette, two-cassette, two-cassette, 15 episode Zorro serial that will sell for $39.95. And he has upward of 100 Keystone Kops shorts. Kartes said he'll market them as half hours for $9.95. He said he surprised himself by acquiring rights to a dozen hour-long hour-long hour-long filmed big band features. "These are from back in the big band era with Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Harry James, Gene Krupa. Bunny Berri gan, Jerry Wald and Jan Garber," he said. "I tried them out on some friends at a party and they went wild. I'll sell those at $19.95 " Kartes went on to predict, "Toward the end of 1985, I expect to see a lot of how-to how-to how-to stuff spring up, and at $9.95. I'll start a major cooking series soon. Kartes credits much of his success in mining new riches from old movies to his off beat marketing. He has racks of his movie oldies in video stores where cassettes are rented and sold, same as anyone else with something to be played on a VCR. But customers in video shops are more inclined to rent than buy. After the readers His big innovation was to market the old films through book stores. Last May he went to the American Booksellers Booksellers Convention and pitched the idea of selling video cassettes in book stores. Waldenbooks and Barnes & Noble liked the idea and racks of his cassettes blossomed in their nationwide chains of stores. "Over 70 percent of all the cassettes sold through bookstores are our product," Kartes boasted. At his own expense, he said, he built a separate cassette department in the Waldenbooks Waldenbooks store in the arcade of the Hyatt Regency here. "The Walden people were so impressed they want to talk to me about separate cassette departments in all their stores," Kartes said. "And the B. Dalton chain is supposed to take me on later this month," he added. Kartes said he also has success selling through Macy's Department Store in New York. He said Macy's has his tapes in 16 locations. Next, he said, he's eyeing grocery chains and chain drug stores as logical outlets for racks of his cassettes. In the Kartes vision of the future, the time may be here soon when you send the kid to the store for a loaf of bread and he comes home with the Keystone Kops. Another juggle Over the holidays, WRTV O quietly trimmed that extra five minutes off its late evening news shows, paring them down to an even half hour again. The station had expanded the late night show to 35 minutes last fall. At the same time, the station shoved Ted Koppel's "Nightline" even later into the night than before. Koppel's show comes from ABC network live at 11:30 p.m. Channel 6 tapes it and delays it an hour until 12:30 a.m., with locally originated reruns of "Taxi" and a rerun of "Entertainment Tonight" from earlier in the evening slipped in ahead of Koppel. Fraggle time "Fraggle Rock," the HBO series with Jim Hensen's Muppets, returns for its third season at 7:30 tonight. The weekly, half hour series is designed for children but has a large closet following among adults. HBO starts each annual cycle of the show in January.