Disposable DVDs Hit Test Markets

Throw-away DVDs should fit easily in a world accustomed to everything from disposable diapers to disposable cameras.

That's the assumption of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, which its "ez-D" disposable discs in four test markets last week. Each $6.99 disc includes a major motion picture with the usual extra features—plus one not found on ordinary DVDs. Once opened, the discs begin to darken and become unplayable after 48 hours.

The disappearing disc was developed by New York-based Flexplay Technologies, Inc.; BVHE is the first entertainment company to try the format with feature films.

Walt Disney Co.'s home video division believes that low-cost disposable movies are part of a workaround to what the industry fears is a coming wave of piracy. If the disposable format proves popular, it could put a huge dent in the bottom line of the video rental industry, which is enjoying all-time high revenue thanks to the ever-growing popularity of DVD.

Over the next six months, BVHE will release six to eight major motion picture titles every two weeks, all of them in the "ez-D" disposable format. Recent releases include Equilibrium, Frida, Heaven, The Hot Chick, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Recruit, Signs, and 25th Hour. Retailers participating in the test are convenience stores, drug stores, and toy stores in Austin, TX; Peoria/Bloomington, IL; Charleston, SC; and Kansas City, MO.