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VSDA Show: Industry Leaders Hail Present Success With Eye to Future

30 Jul, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Though home entertainment dealers and their trade association must defend the video release window and find ways to join the digital revolution to keep their business strong, VSDA president Bo Andersen told his colleagues that rental should experience a resurgence in the next few years.

“For every consumer who bought a $9.50 movie ticket, three more watched movies at home on DVD,” Andersen said. “What consumer products industry would not be pleased?”

Andersen stopped short of suggesting how small retailers could get involved in digital movie delivery, but exhorted the group to get involved -- and soon -- to curb Internet piracy.

“This is our industry's greatest current threat. Rental is one limit on the growth of file sharing. But rental is not a full answer to this threat and neither are the courts,” he said. “None of us can afford to turn the Web over to a subculture of immorality.”

Those comments are strategically in line with the former DVD Entertainment Group (DEG)'s name change to Digital Entertainment Group, which DEG and Buena Vista Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek announced at the session. The group will not set standards for emerging DVD and high-definition formats, but will try to keep the peace among the interests.

Presidents of most of the studio home entertainment divisions took to the dais for a panel discussion focused on the future. “DVD has changed our business from selling a few million copies to the trade to selling millions and millions of copies to consumers,” Warner Home Video's Jim Cardwell said.

That has helped move home entertainment further up the studio food chain, especially in terms of production, panelists said.“It is a medium that allows us to engage the consumer in the creative and moviemaking process in a way that has not been available before,” said New Line's Stephen Einhorn.

“A director sees DVD as where his movie is going to reside,” said 20th Century Fox's Mike Dunn.

Consumers embracing DVD will help keep rental alive, the panelists said. MGM's David Bishop said some projections indicate rental will grow as much as 50 percent to 60 percent over the next five years.

The opening session featured awards galore. The Smothers Brothers drew laughs with a blast-from-the-past performance after the presentation of the George Carlin Freedom of Expression award. Also feted was Peter Fonda, who won the Maverick award for his groundbreaking work in films.

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