Horror Hot on DVD21 Oct, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf
Horror DVDs still scare up plenty of buyers. As of Oct. 8, year-to-date DVD sales for the genre were up 9%, according to Nielsen VideoScan sales data, outpacing the industry as a whole by a long shot.
Much of that increase can be attributed to the fact that there simply are more horror titles than ever, suppliers said.
The industry has doubled the number of theatrical releases since 2004, and direct-to-video horror titles have increased 40% in that same time period, said Anne Parducci, EVP of marketing and family entertainment for Lionsgate.
The rise in ‘PG-13' horror flicks has helped broaden the audience for horror, too, she said, though that's not the direction Lionsgate has gone with its increasingly popular franchises.
“We really specialize more in the ‘R'-rated and unrated on video, and our experience is we've been able to outperform box office on video with virtually every horror release we've had over the last few years,” she said.
Lionsgate continues to build off the success of its “Saw” franchise and “House of a 1,000 Corpses” titles. The studio released House of Blood Oct. 3; Ju-on 2 Oct. 10; and An American Haunting Oct. 24. Streeting Nov. 28 is See No Evil, followed Dec. 26 by the gory The Descent.
“Horror can perform very well outside of October,” Parducci said.
Lionsgate holds 25% of the overall video market for horror and 48% of DTV sales in the genre, Parducci said. The studio is second only to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which has close to 30%, she said.
Sony has seven of the top 10 horror DVD sellers so far this year and three of the top all-time horror sellers, according to Nielsen VideoScan. This year, Oct. 3 Sony released The Woods, directed by Lucky McKee and starring fan favorite Bruce Campbell.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment, which effectively launched the genre with Frankenstein and Dracula, releases the gory zombie flick Slither on DVD Oct. 24.
Retailers are quick to merchandise and promote horror titles around Halloween, and suppliers sit back and watch those sales numbers add up.
“We took four of our horror titles and looked at October shipment numbers versus the average month, and we've seen an increase of 400%,” said Matt Lasorsa, EVP of marketing for New Line Home Entertainment, which has the iconic “Nightmare on Elm Street” series on DVD. “It's not surprising, but it shows how important those movies are to the horror fan. Older movies are getting repromoted every year.”
It remains to be seen if the horror industry can keep up the pace, he said. There's basically a new horror movie opening in theaters every week this month, he noted.
“I think at some point you have to give it a rest a bit and let the demand build,” Lasorsa said. “You can oversaturate.”
What's old is definitely new again with remakes abounding, suppliers said. 20th Century Fox sent its remake The Omen off to DVD Oct. 17 with a gala red-carpet party in Los Angeles and a bevy of classic horror creatures in attendance.
The horror genre is very susceptible to trends, which right now are leaning to macabre torture tales such as Saw and Hostel and remakes of classics, said Mark Ward, VP of acquisitions for Anchor Bay Entertainment.
“Honestly, I've gotten more calls in the last year about what are the remake rights to some of our older titles than I have in the last seven years,” he said.
Anchor Bay has classics such as The Hills Have Eyes, Evil Dead and many more horror titles, old and new.
“We see a spike every year for our top catalog,” Ward said.
Anchor Bay launched the horror franchise “Masters of Horror” this year, which features unedited, unrated filmmaking from leaders in the genre, such as Mick Garris, John Landis, Stuart Gordon, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento and others. Season two starts airing just before Halloween on Showtime. “It is the ‘Twilight Zone' or ‘Outer Limits' for a new generation of horror fans,” Ward said.
Anchor Bay has shipped more than 1 million units of the 11-title-strong first series. The franchise's success is not all that surprising, Ward said. “Half of those master directors, we have their catalog,” he said. “I've seen what they sold.” New horror from Anchor Bay this year includes the Sept. 26 release of Imprint, Takashi Miike's “Master's of Horror” installment deemed too gruesome for cable airing.