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Piggybacking Season Begins

18 Jun, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf

'Tis the season for piggybacking, when studios tie in as much product as possible to the major summer flicks hitting theaters and big DVD releases — a savvy strategy that largely pays off.

The week before Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hit theaters (June 4), unit sales of the first two Harry Potter films on DVD — including a $29.98 two-pack Warner Home Video released May 11 — increased by five times sales levels six weeks prior, according to Video Store Magazine Market Research (based on indexed VideoScan data).

When The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King hit DVD May 25, DVD sales of the first two films skyrocketed by 10 times the sales six weeks prior. That spike includes sales of the three-film trilogy set New Line Home Entertainment released at the same time.

“I think people who may have been on the sidelines of the films are out there buying for the first time,” said Matt Lasorsa, EVP of marketing for New Line.

Plus, these films are really built for whole-set ownership, he said.“I can't imagine anybody owning just one or two of them; it really is one movie experience,” he said.

The pattern holds true for traditional sequels. Sales of Shrek DVD product — in part boosted by DreamWorks Home Entertainment's two-pack of Shrek and the short Shrek 3-D — leapt about seven times above prior levels the week before Shrek 2 hit theaters May 19.

When Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Scary Movie 3 debuted on DVD May 11, DVD sales of the first two Scary Movie titles increased by nearly 35 times prior levels, boosted by a new two-pack of both.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's Spider-Man Deluxe Edition, released June 1, has already jumped to No. 19 on VideoScan's top DVD sellers list, and the second Spidey flick doesn't crawl onto screens until June 30. With the theatrical bow of Universal's The Chronicles of Riddick two weeks ago, Pitch Black on DVD jumped from No. 231 to No. 5 on VideoScan DVD top sellers charts.

“If you're spending $20 million to $30 million in marketing to launch a film theatrically, then it really behooves studios and retailers to ride along with that,” noted Ralph Tribbey, editor of the DVD Release Report.

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