Blockbuster Cancels Next Year's Entertainment Awards21 Nov, 2001 By: Staff Reporter
Blockbuster Inc. confirmed Tuesday that it has canceled next year's Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, originally slated for April in Los Angeles, because of geopolitical uncertainties raised in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
"Due to the uncertainty of the times, we can't predict consumer response to our show, nor audience behavior -- especially media viewing habits -- all of which are being affected by world events," a Blockbuster spokeswoman said.
Blockbuster executives came to the decision as deadlines approached to reserve space for the event's location and as they were to begin planning production of the show.
This year's seventh annual awards, which were voted on by consumers at Blockbuster stores and online, were taped live at the Shine Auditorium in Los Angeles and then aired on Fox during primetime April 11.
Millions of movie fans voted for the 2001 Blockbuster Award winners in more than 30 categories. The show featured such top-shelf film and music stars as Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Drew Barrymore, with live performances by Creed, Stevie Nicks, Ricky Martin and Sheryl Crow, to name a few.
Despite the show's success in attracting national advertisers seeking a prime demographic of teens and young adults, Blockbuster executives were hesitant to foot the bill for another star-studded event that might not attract the same high caliber of performers because of real or perceived terrorist threats, industry sources said.
"Our marketing plans in response to this situation will be much more flexible in timing and content than the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards allow us to be," the spokeswoman said.
While Blockbuster executives haven't ruled out an awards show in 2003 or beyond, industry sources speculate that it would be difficult to get the promotional ball rolling again and that this most likely marks the end to a Blockbuster tradition.
There also is the question of whether the show can remain financially viable in the coming onslaught of home entertainment formats that continue to migrate viewers from the traditional rental-based video industry to a more retail sales-oriented video aftermarket through the rapid adoption of retail-priced DVD.
At least one studio executive, Warner Home Video president Warren Lieberfarb, has predicted that DVD sales, which make up 15%-20% of total revenue for the feature film business, will represent as much as 70% of such revenue within the next five years for Warner and other major Hollywood studios, provided that the DVD sell-through business model continues to expand its depth and breadth of distribution.
Other studio executives have been more reserved about DVD's role in the future of consumers' viewing habits, noting that an estimated 90% of all domestic households own at least one VCR. And industry analysts point to robust VCR sales nationwide this year as proof that the video rental industry will remain strong despite the exponential growth of DVD sales through price reductions, coupled with competition from developing video-on-demand via cable and satellite delivery systems.
--Brett Sporich for The Hollywood Reporter