Fourth Quarter Promises Top-Heavy Slate17 Jul, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
The year-to-date softness in packaged-media sales should see a reversal of misfortune in the fourth quarter when Hollywood studios release the remainder of this season’s box office overachievers.
Among the top theatrical movies not yet released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc are 10 titles that alone have generated more than $2 billion in combined domestic ticket sales, spearheaded by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with more than $345 million in domestic revenue through July 14, according to Box Office Mojo.
While studios remain coy on most release dates, pending titles include Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s Up ($275.3 million domestic box office), Paramount Home Entertainment’s Star Trek ($252.3 million), Warner Home Video’s The Hangover ($225.1 million), 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($178.9 million) and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($171 million), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Angels & Demons ($131.9 million), Warner’s Terminator: Salvation ($123.2 million), Disney’s The Proposal ($116.9 million), Fox’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($127.4 million) and Public Enemies from Universal Studios Home Entertainment with $69.5 million in box office its first two weeks of release.
Other notable titles earmarked for fourth-quarter release include Universal Studios’ Bruno ($37 million in its first five days at the box office) and Sony Pictures’ The Taking of Pelham 123 ($62.8 million). Paramount/DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens ($197.2 million) is slated for release Sept. 29.
A bevy of August releases include Aug. 4 Sony Pictures’ Obsessed ($68.3 million) and Disney’s Race to Witch Mountain ($67.2 million), Aug. 11 Paramount/DreamWorks I Love You, Man ($71.4 million) and Warner’s 17 Again ($63.6 million), and Aug. 18 Disney’s Hannah Montana: The Movie ($79.2 million).
Ralph Tribbey, editor of The DVD Release Report, said through the end of the year, studios will likely release about 50 titles on DVD and Blu-ray with box office revenue of at least $25 million each.
“That is very good and fairly typical,” Tribbey said. “We’ll see how that translates into home entertainment dollars.”
He said much of the anxiety on the studio level regards the comparatively lower impact Blu-ray has had compared to when DVD replaced VHS. Tribbey said that with 50% of new titles released on Blu-ray, the result has been slightly higher margins at the expense of cannibalized DVD sales.
“Until they broaden the spectrum of product offerings on Blu-ray to where new theatrical is less than 20% of the product mix, they just aren’t going to get that lift,” he said.
Indeed, Tribbey said everything through August in theaters would be released in packaged media by the end of the year. He said only six films released theatrically in June and July since 2004 that grossed at least $25 million each were not released on video before the end of the year.
They include Catwoman and The Village, which were released July 23 and July 30, 2004, respectively, and both on DVD the following January. The Notebook was released June 25 and didn’t street on DVD until February 2005, according to Tribbey.
Wedding Crashers hit theaters July 15, 2005, and DVD Jan. 3, 2006. More recently Nancy Drew and No Reservations opened theatrically June 15 and July 27, 2007, respectively, but didn’t have home video releases until March 11 and Feb. 12, 2008.
“Those sat on the sidelines for quite a while,” Tribbey said.