New Theatrical Slate Drying Up4 Aug, 2005 By: Judith McCourt
After months of pushing theatrical releases out at a record clip, the slate of new theatrical features coming to video over the next two months is skimpy. And most of the theatricals that are coming to video in August and September are early-summer theatricals spurned by moviegoers.
And yet that isn't necessarily a bad thing for retailers. Historically, theatrical underperformers tend to overperform on video. Take a look at a recent new release, the romantic comedy The Upside of Anger, with Kevin Costner. It generated 60 percent of its theatrical take of $18.8 million, or $11.33 million, at the rental counter alone — and in just one week.
Collectively, the 2005 crop of August and September video releases generated a mere $1.04 billion at the box office, $276 million less than the comparable slate in 2004. There also are seven fewer features coming to video with box office earnings of at least $1 million.
Suppliers are feeling the crunch. After having pumped out so many theatricals so early and so fast, they are now stretching their limited crop of theatricals through the third quarter. The average theatrical-to-video window for titles coming to video in the next two months is 153 days, up 10 days from last year.
August video releases pack a $560.5 million theatrical punch — a whopping 28 percent less than the $780.5 million generated by the August 2004 theatrical video releases. To be fair, last year's roster included the mega-hit The Passion of the Christ, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, with box office earnings of $370.3 million.
But this year, not a single August title even hit the $100 million mark. The top release: New Line Home Entertainment's Monster-in-Law (Aug. 30), with a theatrical gross of $82.3 million. In the first two weeks of the month, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Guess Who is the only title with box office earnings of more than $50 million.
The trend continues in September, with just nine theatrical releases bowing on video, compared to 15 in the same period of 2004. The box office punch for the September 2005 titles is $486.3 million, 10 percent off last year's slate. Paramount Home Entertainment's The Longest Yard ($155.8 million, Sept. 20) and Fox's Robots ($128.1 million, Sept. 27) are the two biggest titles of the month.
Could opportunity be knocking? In addition to the higher video potential of ho-hum box office performers, it should be noted that a vast stream of non-new release DVD product is slated to arrive in stores in August and September, from TV DVD to special editions of classic movies.
Among the TV DVD releases hitting stores in the next two months are Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Lost: The Complete First Season (Sept. 6) and Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season (Sept. 20); Warner Home Video's The OC: The Complete Second Season (Aug. 23) and Nip/Tuck: The Complete Second Season (Aug. 30); Fox's The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (Aug. 16) and Paramount Home Entertainment's The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Third Season (also Aug. 16).