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Q4 Packs a Mighty Punch

21 Sep, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

Transformers is among the blockbuster titles slated to hit DVD this holiday season.

Observers are calling the video release slate for the fourth quarter of 2007 one of the best — if not the best — ever, and the lineup indeed packs a box office wallop.

This year's fourth-quarter schedule — which firmed up last week with the announcement of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Rush Hour 3 — looks like it will have nearly 20% more box office power than last year's roster. The Simpsons Movie and Superbad have yet to have release dates, but even without those two hits, Q4 2007 is well ahead of Q4 2006 in blockbusters.

“There's just a huge number of $100 million-plus box office titles,” said Tom Adams of Adams Media Research. The box office punch is about 17% above last year's Q4 lineup, he said.

“That's got to be an all-time record,” he said.

David Bishop, worldwide president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said: “There is no question that the number of summer blockbuster hits, including Spider-Man 3, The Bourne Ultimatum, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Transformers, will boost DVD sales activity during the gift-giving holiday season for the industry, and I am cautiously optimistic that overall performance may even exceed previous years.”

DreamWorks Animation SKG CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg called it “the greatest lineup ever” during the Merrill Lynch Media & Entertainment Conference last week, but he cautioned that the strong competition could impact sales.

Shrek the Third, the No. 2 box office title of the year, will do well on DVD, but don't expect any records, he said.

“I'm confident it will be among the top performers for the holidays, but there are a couple things going on in the video market that make us cautious,” he said.

Citing the number of box office hits streeting on DVD around the same time as the Nov. 13 date for Shrek the Third and an overall “soft market” for DVD at retail this year, Katzenberg called for tempered expectations for the DVD.

“The category as a whole is going to be very strong, but there's going to be some cannibalization,” he said.

“It's going to be hectic in store, which is great after a very quiet first half of the year,” Adams said. “Velocity is going to have be high because staying power is going to be short.

“I assume there'll be a ton spent on TV advertising.”

Despite the strong fourth quarter, many observers see the overall year-end total as flat compared to the previous year.

The fourth quarter should “bring the year about even,” Adams said.

Additional reporting by Chris Tribbey.

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