SO IF I WANT A DVD OF THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO, it’s going to cost me a minimum of $118.94?

I thought this was some weird glitch, but searching around other sites I found it as either unavailable, or available only in European PAL format, or equally overpriced. What gives?

UPDATE: Glenn Kenny of Premier magazine emails:

Here’s what gives: “Last Days of Disco” was partially produced by Polygram Filmed Entertainment and distributed by Waverly Films. I’m not sure what the fate of Waverly Films was, but Polygram Filmed Entertainment was folded into Universal, that is, dissolved, in the 1999 deal by which Seagram’s purchased Polygram. Many fIlms produced by PFE between ’79 and ’99 are controlled by MGM, but the pictures made by PFE between ’96 and ’98 now reside with Universal. And Universal’s a weird company when it comes to catalog stuff. Their recent studio classics line, boosted by TCM supports, puts out good versions of ’30s and 40s classics (recent releases include “No Man of Her Own” and “All Quiet on the Western Front”) but in terms of exploiting the quirkier, more obscure stuff in its catalog (and there’s lots of it), they are hopeless. In addition, as I’ve learned from (minimal) personal experience, they are also loathe to make licensing deals with entrepreneurs who actually would like to release such material.

Prices on out-of-print DVDs are driven by two considerations (although not always in equal measure): The actual physical rarity of the item in question, and the likelihood of said item being reissued. I don’t imagine the 1999 run of “Last Days…” DVDs was particularly large, and the release was almost ten years ago. And Universal’s track record speaks to the likelihood of a reissue. But then again one never knows…and there is a sucker born every minute: although a new and improved version of “Suspiria” is just out on DVD, I could conceivably get a fair amount on e-Bay for the “Numbered Limited Edition” it just obsoleted. And “Disco” is hardly a worst-case scenario, by the way—a few years ago people were getting upwards of 300 bucks for a DVD of Antonioni’s “The Red Desert” that was a mediocre master of a mediocre print. But as it was the only Region 1 NTSC game in town, that was that.

As you might recall from a prior correspondence, I am not your biggest fan. But as this is an area of some expertise for me, and I was strangely moved by your seeming desire to revisit a movie (and a filmmaker) that I’m an admirer of, I figured it wouldn’t hurt anybody to contribute my two cents.

It took me a minute to figure out what he meant about not being my biggest fan — hey, lots of people aren’t my biggest fan — but it’s from when I sided with Ann Althouse in an Althouse-Kenny dustup a while back. No biggie from my point of view. And I do like Whit Stillman’s work. And stuff like this is what people hate about IP protection in the modern world. An argument for compulsory licensing.