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Weaning Off the New Theatrical Bottle

2 Oct, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

Home Media Retailing's director of market research Judith McCourt wonders in her column in this week's issue whether we ought to be rethinking the long-running conventional wisdom that new theatrical is what drives this business.

If the notion that the hits are driving people into the store, then why is it that studio home video executives now estimate that new theatricals account for just 35 percent to 40 percent of the business, which would be an all-time low.

Meanwhile, TV DVD, a category that was just a blip on the horizon a few years ago, now accounts for almost 25 percent of studios' home video revenue and continues to rise. Home Media Research estimates that TV DVD sales in August were up 29 percent from the same month a year ago.

“The market is no longer dependent on new releases for growth,” says Mike Dunn, president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in another article in this week's issue looking at how home video divisions are finding ways to create their own content to feed their business. Fox's “Family Guy” spin off Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, is one example of how home video divisions aren't waiting around to simply draft off every new release the theatrical division hands them, good or bad.

This includes creating their own sequels to films, such as Universal Studios Home Entertainments Carlito's Way: Rise to Power, one of the first “Universal DVD Originals”, which follows the 1993 theatrical Carlito's Way starring Al Pacino. Unique product like this might indeed resonate with customers, weary of facing the new release wall of familiar, lackluster theatrical fare currently on the market. Anecdotally, I have heard the title is doing outstanding at the rental counter.

Whether its TV DVD, a renewed emphasis on direct-to-video fare created expressly for the home video market, or even the recent heavy push on special editions, it's clear home video executives are not going to let Hollywood's recent lackluster performance undue the home video market.

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