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Studios Mine Market With Repeat Releases

26 May, 2005 By: Judith McCourt

Hollywood is going for the repeat contenders. As the DVD market matures — by the end of this year, 84 million U.S. households are expected to have at least one DVD player, according to Adams Media Research — studios are looking to extend the life of their titles and drive up their profitability.

The goal, of course, is to sell as many units as possible — and, in some cases, to get people to buy the same title again. That's why we're seeing all sorts of different versions of the same movie come to market — rated and unrated, full-frame and widescreen, director's cut and extended edition.

One popular selling strategy is to offer consumers rated and unrated versions of the same film. The tamer version opens doors to supermarkets and other family-oriented establishments, while the unrated version heightens the purchase appeal among the lucrative young-male demographic.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment found this out in 2002 when the unrated American Pie accounted for 83 percent of all sales. That started a trend among studios to offer both rated and unrated versions of new releases. This year, the strategy gave New Line Home Entertainment a double win, first with Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (88 percent of sales were of the unrated version) and then with Blade: Trinity (84 percent).

Another strategy the studios seem to be employing more and more is to follow a regular release with an extended version of the film — in the hopes of getting consumers to buy both versions. For three consecutive years, New Line employed this approach with its “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, releasing a two-disc edition in the spring and a four-disc extended edition just before the holidays. Last year, New Line's extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King sold an additional 5.5 million units, on top of the 10.9 million units sold of the earlier version.

DreamWorks Home Entertainment just announced an extended edition DVD of Gladiator with 17 minutes of additional footage put back into the film. Gladiator was originally released in November 2000 and has since sold more than 10 million units.Earlier this year, Paramount Home Entertainment announced plans to release an extended DVD edition of James Cameron's Oscar-winning Titanic right before the holidays, again with deleted scenes put back into the film.

And June 7 Buena Vista Home Entertainment is issuing new unrated editions of Coyote Ugly and the Angelina Jolie - Nicolas Cage starrer Gone in 60 Seconds, each with extra footage.

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