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9/11 Titles Get Mixed Reaction From Retailers

26 Aug, 2002 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The rash of video releases commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington is getting a mixed reaction from retailers.

Tom Hannah, owner of Video Quest in Joliet, Ill., said he'll carry six of the more than two dozen 9/11 titles being released in time for the tragedy's one-year anniversary. All of them are programs that have previously aired on television.

“I would not show the stuff they won't show on TV,” Hannah said. “I am not looking to capitalize on 9/11, but I feel I should have the videos for those who want them.”

Mick Blanken, owner of SuperHitz Moviez and Gamez in Delaware, Ohio, disagrees.“I am not planning on carrying any of the 9/11 videos,” he said. “Admittedly, this is for personal reasons. It is a difficult decision to make. Certainly, those who lost their lives in the attack deserve remembrance -- and those who lost their lives trying to save others deserve the highest of praise and commendation.

“But such is the case every day. I am just not interested in perpetuating the horror.”

Hannah said that, while he will stock 9/11 videos, he doesn't think there will be much demand.

“I do not expect these to be big renters and will probably donate the video to our local library in the future,” he said.

Blanken said he's received no requests from his customers about 9/11 videos.

“Some may be seeking such a reminder, but, to the best of my knowledge, none of my guests have inquired as to the existence of one,” he said. “I will respect their silence.”

One supplier who recently released a new 9/11 video said sales are “horrible.”

“There's not a lot of enthusiasm at retail for two reasons,” he said. “One, retailers don't want to be seen exploiting the tragedy, and two, there is a lack of resolution to this whole conflict. It's an ongoing story; there's nothing definitive consumers or retailers are really interested in. There's no dead Osama bin Laden.”

Adrian Hickman, manager of a TLA Video store in Philadelphia, agreed.

“My personal feeling is that the final story has not yet been written on this tragedy, so any educational value is incomplete,” he said. “This is not to pass judgment on these titles because some of them are extremely well done, such as Paramount's 9/11: The Filmmakers' Commemorative Edition, the CNN releases, the Discovery Channel's look at the Twin Towers and a few others.

“For that reason, I will probably only carry these at customer request. My main concern and care will be the mood of my customers leading up to the anniversary.”

Steve Scavelli, president of Flash Distributors, has a personal interest in the matter. The Twin Towers had been visible from Flash's headquarters in Brooklyn. Scavelli was in downtown Manhattan the day the planes struck, and he joined in the early rescue efforts.

“We will be carrying most of the titles, but I think that in the New York City marketplace, they will not sell or rent as well as in other areas of the country,” Scavelli said.

“It is just too much, too soon, for so many people from the city who either lost friends or family or were at the Twin Towers that day and survived, yours truly included.

“I don't need to watch a video to learn anything or be reminded of what happened that day. It's in my brain, and I have nightmares all the time about it. And in talking to many New Yorkers, they feel the same way.”

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