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Video's Bite Into Theatrical

18 Jan, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

Each month in Video Store Magazine we take a look at the upcoming month's slate of theatrical titles coming to video that generated at least a million dollars at the box office.

February's offering, as we point out in this week's issue, is woefully short of “event” titles save for Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, which earned Buena Vista/Dimension more than $111 million. After that, the next biggest box office winner coming in February is Runaway Jury from Fox which earned a little over $49 million. There are a total of 18 titles that earned $1 million or more coming to home video in February, and this batch, as a total, generated just over $470 million in ticket sales.

By contrast February 2003's slate of 22 titles earned a more exciting $780 million, and included HBO's sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding among three $100 million plus titles that month.

By now you have heard that theatrical ticket sales and revenue dropped last year and there is certainly an argument to be made about a link between the escalating price of a movie ticket and the dropping prices of DVD as a factor in theatrical's poor showing. The result is that, more so than ever, good films, albeit not the kind that are “must see” on the big screen, are being hurt at box office by the “I'll wait for the video” effect.

So while this February's theatrical slate is by far smaller in box office power than last year's I think this year's February offerings, a terrific bunch of films, will perform better on a comparative basis. There are some strong films in this group, with major stars that received plenty of promotional push leading into the fall and have garnered, in some cases, great critical acclaim like American Splendor, due out next month from HBO, as well as Lost in Translation from Universal.

Along with the above mentioned titles consider Under the Tuscan Sun, Secondhand Lions, Matchstick Men, Intolerable Cruelty, The Missing, The Fighting Temptations. All films with major stars and plenty of promotion push.

While box office performance has always been the lead indicator of a video's potential success, home video's impact on theatrical may, oddly enough, skew those indications to a greater extent in the future. It'll be interesting to see if this effect occurs regularly over the next 12 months.

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