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Lovin' Summer

9 May, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

There's a bounty of titles already announced for the summer months — from new theatrical releases to special edition DVD and boxed sets — and retailers could use it after a slow spring.

“Up until The Incredibles, this season has been craptastic,” quipped Larry Mansdorf, buyer for Boston-based chain Newbury Comics.

While summer's big box office DVD titles like Warner Home Video's The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby are likely to perform well, Mansdorf also has high hopes for some other titles, such as Paramount Home Entertainment's Team America: World Police as well as DVD special editions coming out this summer, such as The Jerk and Casino anniversary editions from Universal Studios Home Video (USHE).

The Jerk's a perennial seller around here,” he said.

Casino will do well, because it's been unavailable for a while, he added.

There's a little something for everyone on DVD this summer, but no really big tentpole titles that have everyone buzzing, said Bill Hunt, editor/owner of TheDigitalBits.com DVD Web site. USHE's Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition is getting some anticipatory attention because of the included documentary fans have been clamoring for, he said. Other favorites, Hunt said, are the Stripes: Extended Cut DVD coming from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) June 7 and MGM's Bill and Ted's Most Excellent Collection, which streets July 12 with a bevy of extras.

But mostly, it's the summer theatrical state that has DVD lovers on his site in a tizzy.

“With The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy finally out, a new Star Wars, a new “Batman” and a bunch of the other movies in theaters this summer, people are really looking ahead and getting excited at what the fourth quarter will bring for DVD,” Hunt said.

It's no coincidence that two of last summer's big box office titles — I, Robot and The Day After Tomorrow — are reappearing as special-edition DVDs from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment this summer, said Todd Rowan, VP of marketing at Fox.

The studio released these two and Man on Fire in double-disc “All-Access Collector's Editions” timed to Father's Day, he said.

Summer's usually slow for the retail market in general, but Father's Day has turned early summer into something of a DVD buying season, he said.

Fox's “All-Access” DVDs are going to get plenty of visibility this summer, with high-profile advertising from the studio, Rowan said. Plus, the mountain of extras Fox has piled onto the discs should please DVD lovers, even though the titles have already been available on DVD, he said.

The new discs also tie into the summer theatrical slate, with movie cash good toward a ticket for The Fantastic Four — which hits theaters July 8 — included in each package, Rowan said.

This summer is big on the big-box front, too, with more than 60 complete-season TV releases and multi-disc sets already announced, from SPHE's Seinfeld: Season 4 to Anchor Bay's Hercules the Legendary Journeys: Season Six.

Do all those boxes take up a lot of space? Yes, Mansdorf said. Does that always matter? No.

“You can find the shelf space for something you can sell,” he said.

“People have gotten smarter about TV product,” he said. “I think the studios have realized the giant cash cow that was waiting in their vaults.”

Hunt said the studios are doing a great job of rolling out niche TV titles this summer and targeting their marketing to the avid fans.

In addition to summer-slated Academy Award blockbuster titles rolling into the market, there are other smaller box office titles that could become summer DVD sales sleepers, such as the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea from Lions Gate Home Entertainment (June 7), the arthouse darling A Very Long Engagement (Warner, July 12), the comedy Bride & Prejudice (Buena Vista, July 5) and The Machinist (Paramount, June 7), the Christian Bale starrer piggybacking on his role in the enormous theatrical release of Batman Begins.

Charts on video and theatrical releases can be found in this week's Home Media Retailing.

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