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Analysts: Holiday Season Likely Merry

4 Oct, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

It should be a happy holidays for the studios. Buoyed by a resurgent summer box office that featured five movies topping $100 million in ticket sales, analysts say the fourth-quarter home video slate would appear to have a leg up on last year.

Notable standouts include 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's X-Men: The Last Stand, with $234.3 million at the box office; Paramount Home Entertainment/DreamWorks' Over the Hedge ($155 million); Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Click ($136.5 million); Paramount's Mission: Impossible III ($133.4 million); and Universal Studios Home Entertainment's The Break-Up ($118.7 million).

“The only particular genre standing out in the fourth quarter is big fat blockbuster theatrical hits of all types,” said Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research in Carmel, Calif. “There is going to be a ton of marketing money spent on them.”

About 40% of the studios' annual filmed revenue comes in the fourth quarter from home entertainment, said Ralph Tribbey, editor of industry tip sheet The DVD Release Report.

“We are projecting a better growth rate year-over-year [in the fourth quarter] than we have seen thus far this year,” said Tribbey, adding a percentage-point increase for the year is attainable.

Analysts say the next-generation formats HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc present a bit of a wrinkle in fourth-quarter strategies for the studios, especially considering the latter's success has been tied so closely to the release of Sony's oft-delayed PlayStation 3.

“At best, we are talking 1.5 million PlayStation homes that could possibly want to buy an HD disc of some sort during the holidays,” Adams said. “But compared to the 80% of U.S. homes with a standard DVD, you can't spend a lot money chasing those [HD] sales.”

“I don't think Blu-ray and HD DVD is even going to be noticed,” Tribbey said.

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