It just could be an original concept: the video auction. Later this summer, Norman Scherer, a rare-tape dealer in New York, plans to put scores of films and other titles under the electronic gavel at www.videooyster.com, the Web site named for his company, Video Oyster. For those movies no store ever seems to carry, the site might become a good place to look.
A video bounty hunter of sorts, Scherer has tracked the hardest-to-find material, from out-of-circulation Disney films to obscure cult items, for nine years. Now he's about to broaden that approach by posting entire store inventories at his site and selling them to the highest bidder.The tapes will come from stores that are going out of business. Proprietors will share in the proceeds and presumably get more than they would by dumping their stock with tape brokers, Scherer said. Dealers will submit lists of titles they want to get rid of, and these will be added to a master list at the site, which is updated monthly.
For $10 a month, anybody can bid on whatever they want. Bidders might be individuals looking for special titles or retailers looking for films to fill out their own inventories. Bids will go up at the rate of only $1 at a time, which should give most interested parties, private or commercial, ample leeway to compete. At the end of the month, the highest bidder gets the tape.
During the month, one can look in on the progress of the bidding and respond accordingly. Final prices are hard to predict, but bargain rates could prevail for particular movies that relatively few might want.
Scherer said he suspected there would be more bargains than bidding wars. "No one can tell what's in demand and what isn't," he said. "Everybody has their own top 100 films."
- KAFKA ON "TRIAL": Few independent distributors prepare the ground more carefully than Milestone Film and Video, a New York company. On Sept. 29, Milestone plans to issue Orson Welles' "Trial," based on Franz Kafka's novel and starring Anthony Perkins, Jeanne Moreau and Welles. The film, looking remarkably sharp and refurbished after being transferred from a print made from original elements recovered in Manhattan, is already in its slipcover with blurbs in place ("Say what you like but it's the best film I ever made," Welles says in one.)
Yoichi Higashi's fascinating "Village of Dreams" (1997), about one long ago summer in the lives of rambunctious 8-year-old Japanese twins, will be released by Milestone on Aug. 25.