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Entertainment Comeback?

13 Dec, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the possibility of “The Chronicles of Narnia” taking up the franchise mantle, and judging by results from this weekend, we're in for another tentpole series. The title tallied $65.6 million, besting results for the first two “Lord of the Rings” films. Coupled with the “Harry Potter” films, the Narnia franchise may bring the box office out of the doldrums and propel the business for many years to come.

Certainly, what the box office has been lacking recently is a strong franchise push. With “Star Wars” played out, the “Matrix” series over and “The Lord of the Rings” finished, the epics seemed on the wane. Theses films garner excitement for the industry and other films draft off their glow. They also turn into great DVD tentpoles, creating excitement at retail.

Speaking of the DVD business, much has been made of the slowing growth there. Some have even gone so far as to suggest the business may experience a drop. But it looks like those dire predictions may have been overblown. Unit sales of the top 50 DVD sellers were up nearly 14 percent in November, coming on top of a good October. While the DVD industry isn't growing quite as fast, it certainly still looks robust.

Meanwhile, even the traditional rental business is getting a smidge of relief from bad news. JP Morgan analyst Barton Crockett, initiating coverage on Blockbuster Inc. and Movie Gallery, blamed the bad rental year in part on a weak release slate and said bankruptcy fears were “overdone.”

The common theme here: reports of the end of the traditional entertainment business may be premature.

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