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2005 In Review Part 3: MARCH 2005

1 Jan, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

George Atkinson, sometimes credited as the father of the video rental business, died March 3, 2005.

Universal Pictures launches a new family home entertainment unit headed by Glenn Ross, who used to run Lions Gate Entertainment's family home entertainment division. The new unit will develop, produce and acquire product for DVD and TV.

With its quest to buy Hollywood Entertainment Corp. looking more and more likely to succeed, Movie Gallery celebrates the opening of its 2,500th store, in Jacksonville, Texas. A few weeks later, Blockbuster officially terminates its rival offer to buy the nation's No. 2 video rental chain, leaving Movie Gallery the sole bidder.

Blu-ray Disc gets a badly needed boost in the next-gen disc sweepstakes when computer giant Apple logs in its support behind the Sony-developed format. Apple joins the Blu-ray Disc Association and promises to throw its considerable technological and marketing weight to bring the format to market.

George Atkinson, the father of the video rental business, dies at his home in Northridge, Calif., at age 69. Atkinson in October 1977 converted his Los Angeles-area store, which had been selling Super 8 movies and projectors, into Video Station, the country's first video rental store. He had heard of Andre Blay's acquisition of video rights to 50 20th Century Fox movies and, sensing an opportunity, placed an ad in the Los Angeles Times, offering movies for rent.

Sony's PlayStation Portable launches with an unprecedented show of software support from Hollywood. Three suppliers — Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Lions Gate Home Entertainment and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment — promise to release software on the proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD) even before the player hits stores.

After the probe into allegedly deceptive business practices associated with Blockbuster's “no late fees” campaign expands to 47 states, Big Blue agrees to settle the case. The chain must pay $630,000 to 46 of the 47 complaining states and also institute sweeping changes to improve communications with consumers. The settlement fee, which amounts to $13,000 per state to help cover costs associated with the inquiries, does not include restitution or closure to New Jersey, the only state to file an official claim against Blockbuster.

Home Media Retailing presents its first Music DVD Conference, drawing nearly 300 attendees, including key retailers like Gary Arnold of Best Buy and Kevin Cassidy of Tower Records and Video. Retailers want the record labels to provide more promotional and marketing support, on the level the studios do; Tommy Ramone receives a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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