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U.K. Retail Concerned About Third Quarter

12 Jun, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Major TV event World Cup soccer masks a weak release slate, say some retailers

While much of the United Kingdom hopes the national soccer team advances deep into the month-long World Cup tournament in Brazil, entertainment retailers say the quadrennial event — coupled with a smaller movie release slate — could dampen packaged-media sales in the third quarter through Sept. 30.

With the third-largest home entertainment retail market globally, and a consumer base predisposed toward disc purchases, the U.K. market is important to Hollywood studios.

Indeed, more than 1.2 million UltraViolet accounts have been registered in the region without an official public launch or marketing effort — underscoring consumer demand for physical and digital content.

While British retailers say they will rely on major releases such as The Lego Movie (July 21 from Warner Home Video), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sept. 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), Rio 2 (Aug. 4 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Aug. 18 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) to generate foot traffic and sales, the total number of titles scheduled for September is less than in previous years.

“It is looking light and is definitely not going to be a vintage quarter,” Andy Anderson, new-release and chart manager with HMV, told Cue Entertainment. “In previous years we have had much, much bigger Septembers. It is a concern this year.”

HMV, which re-emerged out of bankruptcy last year, operates 120 stores in U.K. featuring new-release movies, music, video games and technology.

John Wilson, DVD buyer at Wm Morrison Supermarkets, the fourth-largest supermarket chain in the U.K., is more hopeful. Wilson believes The Lego Movie offers a unique opportunity to capture both disc and consumer product sales during the traditionally quiet July month, an opportunity he thinks could also be replicated with Amazing Spider-Man 2.

“[The title] again provides a real cross-merchandise opportunity across the retail base that we will hope to capitalize on,” Wilson said.

Joe Anderson, senior buyer for The Hut Group, which operates entertainment websites Zavvi.com and TheHut.com, believes The Lego Movie could achieve first-week sales rivaling Disney’s ongoing retail juggernaut Frozen — heretofore the top-selling disc of the year.

In addition to major titles, retailers are keen on upcoming indie, catalog, and TV releases, including Locke (Aug. 25 from Lionsgate) with Tom Hardy and A Touch of Sin (Sept. 8 from Arrow Films).

“I’m delighted that ‘Twin Peaks’ will finally make it to Blu-ray (July 29 from Paramount Home Media Entertainment) in what is looking like a great package, plus there will be a fantastic array of exquisitely designed Steelbooks leaving the vaults,” Anderson said.

Dan Hunter, director at MovieMail.com, has high hopes for The Werner Herzog Collection (July 21 from BFI), The Grand Budapest Hotel (July 7 from Fox), The Beatles re-release A Hard Day’s Night: 50th Anniversary Restoration (July 21 from Second Sight), and Scarlet Johansson sci-fi thriller Under the Skin (July 14 from Studiocanal), among others.

“A lot of those films have not been out on video before and most have not previously been available on Blu-ray. Almost all the pre-sales have been for the Blu-ray set. It is proving very popular with our collectors’ market,” Hunter said.



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