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MGM Bows DVDs Priced Under $10 for the First Time

8 Mar, 2002 By: Joan Villa

MGM Home Entertainment is breaking new ground with a $9.98 price point on 10 DVD titles available June 4 (see list below).

Although Artisan Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video have released a handful of DVDs at prices under $10 in the past, the $9.98 level is a first for MGM, said sales EVP Robert Wittenberg. The titles are out now on DVD at higher suggested retail prices ranging from $19.98 to $26.98 and prebook May 7.

"There's a demand and a market for this caliber of product at this price point," he noted. "It's our hope that it will get some significant representation at mass merchants, at least that's what we're expecting."

According to Ralph Tribbey, editor of The DVD Release Report, there has been "very little price movement and very little price promotion" during the first quarter, which may change in the summer.

"Of the 14,845 titles that have been released on DVD, 1,522 have a price point of $10 and under," he said. "It's not like this is a big secret, or something no one else is doing."

However, large studios have been reluctant to take the plunge to lowered pricing, with companies such as Wellspring Media (formerly Winstar), Brentwood Video, New Concorde and United American Video (UAV) leading the way in under-$10 DVDs. Artisan lowered prices last year on such catalog movies as Basic Instinct and Total Recall in preparation for the release of higher-priced special edition DVDs, while Warner reduced 20 titles including Private Benjamin, Sharky's Machine and The Man With Two Brains to $9.95 in November, Tribbey said.

Leading into the Memorial Day time frame, Tribbey said competition with hits like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Ocean's Eleven and Vanilla Sky could push some suppliers toward lower pricing.

"You're not going to compete with Harry Potter head on," he explained. "The only way you're going to compete for any revenue stream or shelf space is to compete on a price basis."

MGM's Wittenberg expects the studio's $9.98 repricing to continue on selected "direct-to-video" DVDs going forward.

"I don't think this is the last of it," he said. "In the development of VHS, what you found was product finding its way to this price point licensed by the majors. That was before all the majors thoroughly developed their distribution channels, which we subsequently have developed. MGM will tend to distribute this product rather than license them."

LIST OF MGM DVDs UNDER $10: All Revved Up, Attention Shoppers, Dirty Pictures (Golden Globe winner about controversial artist Robert Mapplethorpe), The Dress Code (directed by Shirley MacLaine), Forever Mine, Hendrix, Holiday Heart, Mr. Accident, The Serpent's Kiss (starring Ewan McGregor), The Smokers.

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