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Video Sales Climb; Box Office Sales Slip

12 May, 2005 By: Judith McCourt



Suppliers continue to push theatrical releases to market at an accelerated clip to capitalize on consumer awareness generated from the theatrical campaign. The $64,000 question: Is what's good for DVD bad for the box office?

The jury is still out, but facts reveal that home video spending so far this year is up, while box office receipts are down an estimated 5.6 percent. Consumers have spent just $2.9 billion on movie tickets, according to EDI Nielsen.

The downturn is due in part to an overall weaker slate of films — there's no title of the caliber of The Passion of the Christ, which helped push box office spending sky-high this same time last year — but a steady shortening of theatrical-to-video windows may also be a factor.

When Blade: Trinity, from New Line Home Entertainment, hit stores last week, a young adult consumer told Home Media Research he had skipped the film in theaters because he would rather own it. And looking at the sales and rental charts, there were plenty of others who felt as he did. Blade: Trinity was the No. 2 seller its first week in stores, according to Nielsen VideoScan data, and placed No. 3 and No. 5 on the rental charts its first two weeks of release.

Overall, theatrical-to-video windows of feature films grossing at least $10 million slipped to an average of 135 days in the first five months of 2005, down from 138 days in 2004, according to Home Media Research data.

Films that brought in between $26 million and $49.9 million shaved 10 days off their window, the biggest decline. Films with box office earnings of more than $100 million came to video three days quicker than they did in 2004. Meet the Fockers, a $279 million blockbuster, made it to retail just 118 days after its theatrical opening — the quickest of any of the films in the $100 million-plus club.

Three weeks after its release, the comedy is still the No. 5 seller and No. 2 renter, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert Data for the week ended May 5.

Of the six majors, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment tops the list of fast-turnaround suppliers. Sony films in the first five months of this year came to DVD an average of 121 days after their theatrical openings. Warner Home Video titles took the longest to hit video, an average of 162 days, although that number is skewed by Troy, which took nearly eight months to come to video. In 2004, the average window for a Warner title was 141 days. (Ironically, Warner has just announced it is bringing Miss Congeniality 2 to home video just 88 days after its theatrical bow.)

The fastest title to come to video in the first five months of this year was Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's Flight of the Phoenix, which arrived in stores just 74 days after its December opening in theaters.

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