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Ownership Makes a Comeback

27 Feb, 2012 By: Stephanie Prange

We can thank a glittering vampire for injecting some new vigor into the sellthrough business. The latest “Twilight” movie, Breaking Dawn — Part 1, sold 5 million disc units in its first 11 days of release, according to Summit Entertainment, which is owned by Lionsgate. The studio last week announced disc sales of the title are about 13% ahead of sales of the third film in the franchise, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, at the same point in its release.

Breaking Dawn — Part 1 helped push overall disc sales revenue for the week up almost 20% from the same week the previous year, according to Home Media Magazine research. The last up period was the week ended Nov. 12, which included the debut of another juggernaut, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2. The lesson: Consumers continue to collect the big hits in large numbers and are interested in owning them on disc.

Meanwhile, the cloud-based digital storage platform backed by five of the six major studios continues to add consumers (see story, cover). Consumers have redeemed UltraViolet digital rights to more than 1 million title copies, according to research firm IHS, with 50,000 new accounts opened since early January.

“One million [UV titles] may not sound like much compared to the 504 million movie discs sold in 2011,” said Tom Adams, analyst at IHS. “However, we have projected that only 19 million digital film files were sold during the entire year of 2011 by electronic sellthrough (EST) vendors like iTunes, Xbox Live and Vudu. This suggests that if UV can continue to gain momentum this year, it could encourage consumers to buy more movies.”

Also, considering the small number of films offering UltraViolet at the moment, it seems use of the service cannot help but pick up speed. I know UltraViolet has come up against a wave of criticism from consumers and industry observers, but the fact that it is gaining accounts in spite of that criticism is a very good sign — and an indication that consumers want to own, not just rent, content digitally. Where EST has faltered, UltraViolet may succeed.

Ownership is staging a comeback.

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