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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Three Recent Events Should Convince Even the Most Zealous Naysayers That DVD Is Here

21 Jun, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

It's been a pivotal month for DVD. True, the format's future has never really been in question since last year's phenomenal growth in both hardware and software sales -- spurred by the advent of players retailing for $150 or less.

But in the last few weeks, three key events happened that should convince even the most zealous naysayers that DVD is here and that sooner or later it will replace the VHS cassette as the preferred medium for watching movies athome.

The first was Disney's carefully orchestrated presentation of the new Snow White DVD to key press, retailers and distributors. The folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment are rightly proud of their carefully crafted two-disc set and, while they were very careful to avoid making any sales projections, rest assured this DVD will be one of the top sellers yet. The last time Snow White was released for the home entertainment market, on VHS cassette in 1994, it was in a tight race with Jurassic Park to be one of the biggest selling videocassette releases ever. Its sales total -- somewhere north of 20 million units were shipped into the market -- still ranks as one of the home video industry's all-time highs, and most observers predict DVD sales will be simply phenomenal.

The second event this month was Paramount's announcement that it would at long last release The Godfather on DVD. This classic Francis Ford Coppola film has long been at or near the top of various DVD aficionados' most-wanted lists and its imminent arrival represents an affirmation by one of the true giants of Hollywood that DVD's moment has come -- and that the household penetration rate is high enough for the film to achieve an impressive sales tally.

The same can be said of the third event, which was made public just a few days ago: That George Lucas and Fox Home Entertainment have agreed to release Star Wars: Episode One -- The Phantom Menace on DVD. Granted, it's not the StarWars film DVD fans have been clamoring for ever since the format was launched more than four years ago, but it's an important first step.

Moreover, Fox may have been a johnny-come-lately to the DVD race, but today the studio ranks as one of the format's biggest supporters, as evidenced by the VIP treatment the studio gives its truly special films -- and the Fox marketers'aggressive attempts to find out what consumers want and then give it to them through consistent monitoring of DVD chat rooms and discussion boards on the World Wide Web.

It should be noted that Disney, Paramount and Fox aren't simply releasing three of their biggest films on DVD. They are also pulling out all the stops in adding special features and custom-crafting DVD-only elements, to the point where they are creating a brand new product.

As a result, it's difficult even for a cynic to not share in their enthusiasm for their respective releases, which in each case are a microcosm for how Hollywood as a whole is beginning to feel about DVD in general.

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

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