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Summer Slate Sprinkled With Hits and Sleepers

24 May, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to tell what the summer's biggest renters and sellers likely are, but there are plenty of goodies to be found in between The Lord of the Rings — The Return of the King and The Passion of the Christ this year.

It's a given that those two will be top sellers and renters, industry watchers said, along with Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Hellboy; Oscar nominees like Mystic River and Cold Mountain; and comedies like 50 First Dates and Barbershop 2.

Comedy and action are what summer is all about, said Gerald Pryor of the Atlanta-based Video Warehouse chain.

But there's even room this summer for titles that took a dive at the box office. “For us, I look for Against the Ropes to be a pretty strong renter,” Pryor said. He also has high hopes for Secret Window, “especially if we can figure out a way to highlight the fact that Stephen King's behind it — that always means great rentals,” he said.

Dave Bleiler, buyer for the TLA Video chain in Philadelphia, predicts Bad Santa will come into its own over the summer season.

“I think because it's so funny and vitriolic and, well, mean-spirited that it's going to have great video legs,” Bleiler said.

There's also plenty of arthouse fare in the summer pipeline to appeal to those types of customers, he said.

“Station Agent will do very well for us,” Bleiler said. “For a film that only grossed $6 million, we're buying in numbers as if it grossed $50 million.”

Another sure favorite for the more intellectual crowd is City of God, he added.

“I think this will be the biggest foreign film of the year,” he said. “We've had people asking for this title for a year now, and we expect big sales and rentals.”

Chad Harr, owner of Backlot DVD, in Lakewood, Wash., agreed that Bad Santa should be one of the top sleepers of the summer, but that it will face tough rental competition from Secret Window, which comes out the same week.

What he's looking forward to as well are the nontheatrical releases that are rounding out the summer schedule, like the classic TV boxed sets The A-Team: Season One (street June 8, Universal Studios Home Video), Wonder Woman: The Complete First Season (street June 29, Warner Home Video), Knight Rider: Season One (street Aug. 3, Universal Music & Video Distribution) as well as the much-anticipated Six Feet Under: The Complete Second Season (June 8, HBO Home Video).

There are certainly plenty of boxed sets and special edition disc releases that will vie for summer shoppers' DVD dollars, said Bill Hunt, editor of TheDigitalBits.com.

“I think something that's going to sell really big is the Northern Exposure: The Complete First Season,” he said. That set streeted this week from Universal Studios Home Video. Hunt also predicts big numbers for Warner's July 27 release of V: The Complete Series.

Big upcoming hits on the two-disc special edition lineup this summer are Cop Land and Trainspotting from Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) June 1; The English Patient, arriving June 29 also from BVHE; and Blazing Saddles 30th Anniversary Special Edition DVD from Warner, which streets June 29.

“People have been waiting a long time for some of these movies to be turned into special editions,” Hunt said.

And keep your eye on MGM's July 27 release of Showgirls: VIP Edition, which is loaded with extras, including a lap dance tutorial. “That's one of those movies that's so awful people love it,” Hunt said.

As for DVD sleepers from the theatrical slate: “I think Bubba Ho-Tep is going to be a surprise hit,” he said. “It's tapped into that whole ‘Ain't It Cool News' crowd.”

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