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Retailers Anticipating a Hot Summer

7 May, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf

Chicago took top honors among its Hollywood fellows this year and may just be the video hit of the summer as well, retailers think, even though it streets late in August.

There are plenty of sleepers to go around like Narc and The Quiet American; plenty of tie-in opportunities for the nine sequels scheduled for theaters; as well as flicks like Old School and Just Married that will appeal to the teen audience on summer break, retailers said.

Though huge box office hits may be few and far between on the summer list, most agree the ‘A' titles arriving this summer are enough to make the season a profitable one, and everyone's looking forward to August's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

When asked what the summer's biggies will be, a couple of titles immediately sprang to industry watchers' minds.

“You've got Gangs of New York and Chicago, and while that's just for starters, that's enough for me,” said Steve Scavelli, president of Flash Distributors, based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Scavelli said he expects a robust summer. “It will be a good summer for sellthrough,” he said.

David Bleiler, buyer for TLA Corp. in Philadelphia said his chain is going deep on Chicago and Gangs of New York.

“Disney is our best friend this year,” he joked. “The demand and the affection for Chicago will have to place it among the top sellers, especially on DVD, and I think it will be a knockout rental title, too.”

“We're looking forward to a healthy, profitable summer,” he added.

For nine-store Palm Desert, Calif., chain Video Depot, the hot desert summer always means good business, said VP Scott Whitmer.

“I was actually a little bit disappointed with the slate of titles for June, so I'm anticipating July and August to be a hell of a lot better,” he said.

Whitmer said Video Depot is gearing up for tie-ins with the theatrical slate.

“We're beefing up as far as DVD goes on X-Men,” he said. “We're getting more of The Matrix and stuff like The In-Laws. We want to make sure we have the original, which streets in May. We're also making sure that all the stores have a couple of copies of Dumb and Dumber.

Look for Artisan's new T2 DVD to come on strong, TLA's Bleiler said.

“I'm thinking T3 will do so well in theaters it will put demand for the DVD even though it's the second or third time its been released on DVD,” he said.

It might be hard to tie-in to a couple of other remakes on the theatrical slate, like The Italian Job and Freaky Friday, said Stephen Bissette, with First Run Video in Brattelboro, Vt., because they're not available on DVD yet and if stores have been getting rid of VHS stock, those titles could be hard to come by.

Kevin Brock, buyer for midsized chain Bradley Video based in Petaluma, Calif., said video's looking at a very strong summer.

“There are so many good ‘A' titles coming out that it makes it hard to buy the ‘B' titles,” Brock said. “I'm really high on Narc. I'm thinking that's going to be a good renter.”

Don't forget the catalog slate, some retailers said.

“I'm impressed with some of the stuff that MGM's got coming up on DVD,” Bissette said. “They've done a really good job. It's all smaller stuff, but it's a pretty strong lineup for DVD catalog.”

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