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Thomas K. Arnold is considered one of the leading home entertainment journalists in the country. He is publisher and editorial director of Home Media Magazine, the home entertainment industry’s weekly trade publication. He also is home entertainment editor for The Hollywood Reporter and frequently writes about home entertainment and theatrical for USA Today. He has talked about home entertainment issues on CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight,” “Entertainment Tonight,” Starz, The Hollywood Reporter and the G4 network’s “Attack of the Show,” where he has been a frequent guest. Arnold also is the executive producer of The Home Entertainment Summit, a key annual gathering of studio executives and other industry leaders, and has given speeches and presentations at a variety of other events, including Home Media Expo and the Entertainment Supply Chain Academy.


TK's Take
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27 Apr, 2009

A Rising Tide?

Amazon's Q1 results, released this morning, bring some encouraging words for our home entertainment business. While the online retailer attributes its strong results — net sales rose 18% to $4.9 billion while net income shot up 24% to $177 million — to demand for its Kindle ebook reader and better inventory management, the media category, which includes DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, also performed quite well.

Sales within the media category, which also includes music, digital downloads, software, books and video game hardware and software, rose 8% to $1.3 billion in the North American market.

 


25 Apr, 2009

Farewell to Annakin

Our hearts go out to veteran home entertainment publicist Deborah Peters on the loss of her father, famed British director Ken Annakin, who died last Wednesday night at his Beverly Hills home. He was 94; his health had been failing since he suffered a heart attack and a stroke in February. Mr. Annakin is best known for helming such classic films as the 1962 war epic The Longest Day, with Henry Fonda and John Wayne, and 1965's Battle of the Bulge, with Fonda and Charles Bronson. Other film credits include 1960s Swiss Family Robinson, one of a series of family adventures he made for Walt Disney, and 1965's Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, the screenplay to which earned him an Oscar nomination. George Lucas, by the way, named the Star Wars character Anakin Skywalker after him.

 


24 Apr, 2009

Indie Resurgence?

One of the first emails I received this morning was this, from Doug's Video in Virginia.
 
Hello....we are a video location in search for POP material....any suggestions except the larger distributing companies that have a $500 - $800 movie purchase minimum before even selling the POP?
 
Thanks ,
 
Sandy T. Dunbrack
Doug's Video
540 248 2805 Fax
540 248 4107
540 294 5455
 
First of all, if any of our studio readers can help, please do so. Secondly, and in light of Netflix's good numbers and the general feeling that rental will soon enjoy a resurgence, if it isn't already, due to the economy, I had this thought: Obviously there are still quite a few independent video stores out there, and I have to think if they've survived this long, they must be doing something right. So as the studios continue to seek broader and broader distribution, targeting everything from truck stops to sports stores, why don't studios rethink their disavowal of indie video stores and launch some sort of outreach? I understand that as the business transitioned to DVD and sellthrough, indies sort of got lost in the shuffle, but I'm sure by now most of these surviving indies are geared up to not just rent, but also sell. And if you talk about trying to find a fit: Isn't a store that generates the majority of its revenue from renting and selling DVDs a more suitable candidate for DVD suppliers than, say, an extreme sports shop? Maybe studios should take a second look at the indies. They might be surprised.

 


23 Apr, 2009

It's Fox Week in Video Stores

In its third week of release, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Marley & Me regained the top spot on the national DVD sales chart. Check out all the coverage my weekly chart story got this week in The Hollywood Reporter, the Broadcast NewsroomReuters and even ground zero for Bollywood!


22 Apr, 2009

Fox's "Day" Tops DVD Rental Chart--Again

Sales data from Nielsen VideoScan isn't in yet, but Home Media Magazine's market research pegs 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's The Day The Earth Stood Still as the No. 1 rental for the second consecutive week. Lionsgate's The Spirit debuts at No. 2 on the latest rental chart, for the week ending April 19, followed at No. 3 by 20th Century Fox's Marley & Me (down from No. 2 the previous week), Sony Pictures' Seven Pounds at No. 4 and 20th Century Fox's Slumdog Millionaire at No. 5. Stay tuned for the full weekly chart story later this afternoon.


21 Apr, 2009

All HD'd But Nothing To Do …

Blame it on the recession, blame it on technology overload, but whatever the case, consumers aren't as wowed by new electronic gadgets and services as they once were. A new study from Centris reveals expanding technology consumption and Internet usage, but flat consumer interest in new offerings. One interesting tidbit that illustrates this great divide: There's a big lag between HDTV hardware and HDTV service, with nearly 46 million U.S. households reporting that they own at least one high-definition TV set but only 34 million of those households actually having HDTV service. One promising development, at least as far as our industry is concerned: The number of households that reported having a large-screen TV set, with a screen size of at least 32 inches, grew 15% between 2007 and 2008, compared to just 9% between 2006 and 2007. Hopefully those 12 million households with big HDTVs but no HDTV service are doing what I consider the right thing: buying and watching lots and lots of Blu-ray Discs.

 


20 Apr, 2009

As the Disc Turns...

It’s already shaping up to be an interesting week. We’ve just received word that Image Entertainment’s protracted merger agreement with Nyx Acquisitions has been called off, due to the latter’s failure to pay Image an additional $1 million as required by the agreement. Jeff Framer, the longtime Image executive who recently replaced David Borshell as president, said despite the collapse of the merger Image “is well-positioned to grow.”

We’ve also noticed that sometime this week, DVD is expected to cross the 100,000-title barrier. According to our friend Ralph Tribbey at The DVD Release Report, there are currently 99,048 DVDs in active release (98,576) or in the pipeline (another 472). And with about 200 titles added each week, we’re on track to hit a very significant milestone in a matter of days.

Meanwhile, it’s been ominously quiet at the studios since the layoffs that hit most everyone in January and February. Staffs are said to be adjusting to the new reality of doing slightly less business with slightly fewer people, and cutting costs continues to be the order of the day. At one studio, even high-level executives have been capped at $50 for business lunches; while at another international travel has all but been eliminated.


17 Apr, 2009

12 Million Blu-ray Fans Can't Be Wrong!

Wow. The economy may be in tatters, but Futuresource Consulting predicts that global shipments of Blu-ray Disc players this year will come close to 12 million units--and what makes the number even more impressive is that it doesn't include the PlayStation 3 video game console, which contains a Blu-ray Disc drive and in the early stages of the format accounted for the lion's share of players. Futuresource research consultant Jack Wetherill says the fourth quarter will be peak season, with shipments of more than 6 million players in the months of October, November and December. That's twice as many players as were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2008. Wetherill says his rosy forecast is based on input "from a wide range of companies operating in the global Blu-ray hardware business, including vendors, retailers and component suppliers." Shipments in the first quarter of this year, he adds, are estimated at 1.2 million players.


15 Apr, 2009

More Good Tidings

Good morning, and greetings from Santa Barbara, Calif., where I am taking a brief vacation with my family while my boys are off school for spring break. I’d like to share with you two bits of good news for our business, amid shaky rumblings of how the total home entertainment business, even factoring in a 108% uptick in Blu-ray Disc sales, is down 11% for the quarter — which, by the way, mirrors just about every other business I can think of.

Good tiding No. 1 is the latest report from The NPD Group, home of our good friend Russ Crupnick, one of the sharpest industry analysts I’ve ever come across. According to NPD’s latest tracking study, “Entertainment Trends in America,” U.S. consumers plan to either hold steady or increase their entertainment spending in 2009, something we’ve already seen reflected in the up box office. The NPD report also indicates that 51% of consumers surveyed purchased a DVD or Blu-ray Disc in the last three months, a higher percentage than video games (36% of consumers) or CDs (31%).

Good tiding No. 2 is that things are looking up at at least one of the six major studios’ home entertainment divisions. The president of said division told me on the sly that “we made our numbers” in the first quarter, something he was hoping for but not really expecting.

 


13 Apr, 2009

June Boom

Despite studio executives' insistence that DVD is a year-round business, big theatricals have traditionally been bunched up in the fourth quarter, with predictable additional bumps in January (the "fifth quarter"), March/April (Easter gift-buying season) and September (a head start on Q4). This year, with box office up around 12% in the first three months of the year and April opening with a bang with Fast and Furious and Hannah Montana The Movie, we're seeing some of the traditionally "down" months brimming with activity. Take June. Just announced this week for DVD/Blu-ray Disc release are Warner's He's Just Not That Into You, with $92.9 million in theatrical earnings, coming to home video on June 2.; Sony Pictures' The International ($25.5 million) on June 9; and Confessions of a Shopaholic ($43.7 box office), from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, on June 23. That brings to six the number of big-ticket theatricals (defined as any movie that made more than $25 million in U.S. theaters) coming to video in June. The others, announced previously, are Paramount's Defiance ($28.5 million), June 2; Warner's Gran Torino ($146.2 million), June 9; and Lionsgate's Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail ($89.9 million), June 16. All this, for a month that not so long ago was reserved for TV DVD releases and catalog promotions. Can't wait to see what July will bring....