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2005 In Review Part 10: OCTOBER 2005

1 Jan, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Apple unveiled its Video iPod and began offering downloads of TV episodes at its online iTunes store.

As the critical fourth-quarter DVD selling season got underway, studio executives were cautiously optimistic about at least a minor recovery. Some predicted a sales uptick of as much as 10 percent from the same quarter last year, which would have been enough to lift the industry to a healthy 5 percent sales gain for calendar 2005.

That pales in comparison with growth rates of earlier years, but for a mature industry, it's not bad, says Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau.

Blu-ray Disc gets two more big boosts when first Paramount Home Entertainment and then Warner Home Video say they will release product on the format — even though neither studio is ready to abandon HD DVD. The scorecard now stands at five of the six majors behind Blu-ray, three of them exclusively, and just three supporting HD DVD.

More bad news from the south: Alabama-based Movie Gallery reports a 9 percent decrease in same-store revenue for the third quarter ended Oct. 3, citing the usual suspects: a weak release slate and flattening demand. Rentals were down 10.8 percent, while sellthrough was up 2.5 percent. At Hollywood Video-branded stores, same-store rentals fell 10.1 percent while sellthrough was off 3 percent.

Apple unveils its Video iPod, a handheld player luring legal downloaders with the slogan, “Your 24-7 Video Store.” Disney announces it will sell episodes of “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” for $1.99 each the day after they are aired.

Studios are stepping up efforts to create direct-to-video product. Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are aggressively greenlighting DTV sequels to such theatrical hits as Carlito's Way, American Pie and 8MM, while Paramount Home Entertainment announces the formation of a new “DVD studio” to leverage MTV Networks properties into a series of music-based dramas, comedies and documentaries.

James Cardwell is bounced as president of Warner Home Video in a drastic corporate restructuring that makes the division part of the newly formed Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. Ron Sanders, EVP North America for Warner Home Video, is upped to president.

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