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TK's MORNING BUZZ: A Hot Summer at the Box Office Leads to a Joyous 4th Qtr. at the Video Store

21 May, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Shrek-mania gripped theaters this past weekend. The animated film grossed an estimated $42 million to become the No. 2 cartoon opener of all time, surpassing The Lion's King's $40 million and establishing DreamWorks as a serious contender in the animated feature league dominated by arch rival the Walt Disney Co.

My 5-year-old, Justin, already wants to know "when is it coming out on DVD, so I can see it again." Three-year-old Conner, meanwhile, gets screaming separation anxiety whenever he loses sight, even for a second, of the Shrek goodie bag the folks at DreamWorks were kind enough to give me Friday afternoon during a Video Store Magazine editorial staff luncheon with the studio's video leaders.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who produced the film and once ran Walt Disney Studios (hence, the rivalry), popped his head in to remind us all to "see Shrek this weekend." As the parent of two little kids, I took him up on it -- although I must say, there were plenty of teens and young adults in the theater for the Saturday matinee, and they appeared to enjoy the film every much as we did.

It's a heartening pre-season kickoff to the summer movie season, which really gets underway next week with the theatrical opening of the expected blockbuster Pearl Harbor. That means good tidings for the home entertainment business as well, with the trickle-down effect of a hot summer at the box office leading to a joyous fourth quarter at the video store.

The lineup for video is nowhere near finalized, but already, we know we're getting The Grinch, a must-buy on every self-respecting parent's list. We're also expecting Shrek, The Mummy Returns, Pearl Harbor and a wide array of other hot product that to me at least seems more diverse than any previous fourth quarter's video offering.

Diversity translates to big business. If similar blockbusters compete head to head, retailers end up with diminished returns. But near as I can tell, the returns will be anything but diminished this fourth quarter -- a rousing finish to a year that's turning out to be quite good for everyone from the big discounters to the small independents, thanks in large part to DVD.

I'd like to hear retailers' own predictions for the rest of the year. Am I dead-on right, completely off the mark, or somewhere in between? Selected responses will be published here later this year.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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