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Retailers See a Hot Summer of Video and DVD Ahead

27 Apr, 2001 By: Jessica Wolf

Summertime. It’s a great time of year to hide out in a cold, dark movie theater, orbetter yet, in the air-conditioned comfort of home after a quick trip tothe video store.

The slate of movies hitting the video market in time for the lazy days of summer this year should make for happy customers.

A solid helping of blockbuster hits, word-of-mouth attention-getters,Academy Award nominees and winners, actioners, and comedies are on track for summer release.

“We always look forward to summer, “says Scott Whitmer of the Palm Desert, Calif. mid-sized chain Video Depot. “July is typically ourstrongest month.”

Whitmer credits the climate as part of the reason for his stores’ strong summer revenues. The more than 100-degree temperatures makeindoor activities like renting movies very inviting, he says.

He predicts that the timely early June release of Fox HomeEntertainment’s mega-box office hit Cast Away will help carry rentals for the season, along with Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis starrer Unbreakable.

“I’m hoping that Unbreakable will be like The Sixth Sense was for us last year,” he says.

Whitmer says last year his stores ordered 20% more copies than usual of The Sixth Sense and still didn’t have enough.

Another big hit, The Green Mile, streeted June 13 last summer and was the top renter for the year. The Green Mile was big, agrees Todd Zaganiacz owner of South Deerfield, Mass.-based Video Zone and presidentof the New England Buying Group. “I have high anticipation for Thirteen Days this year,” he says. “I’m really counting on it being a top sleeper. It’s a phenomenal movie with great word-of-mouth. It only made $30 million at the box office, so a lot of people haven’t seen it.”

Zaganiacz says he expects a couple of not-so-big box office hits to do well in the coming season. “In the summer it’s more your teen titles,like Sugar and Spice or Dude, Where’s My Car? — if that had come out inthe spring or some other time it would probably be a bomb.”

Zaganiacz adds that the theatrical line-up could, as usual, affect rentals, mentioning The Mummy Returns and Pearl Harbor. “Then, on theother hand, if these movies turn out to not be any good, it’ll be great for rental,” he adds.

On the sellthrough side, John Thrasher, v.p. of video sales for Tower Records and Video, says things generally slow down a bit in the summeras studios schedule a lot of the big hits for fourth-quarter release.

“Releases have had, in years past, a tendency to be a little softer in the summer,” he says.

This year, Thrasher says, he expects things to be different predicting a “mind-boggling, successful summer” due to the release of a lot of hot titles on DVD like The Emperor’s New Groove (Street May 1), Vertical Limit, Cast Away and Unbreakable.

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