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Tuesday Musings

27 May, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Sometimes it feels as though the DVD era never happened. We have rental flying high, even though everything now is issued at a sellthrough price, and Amazon, the leading Internet home video merchant, is talking about opening up brick-and-mortar stores. Of course, Amazon's model focuses on grocery pickup centers, but as we all know, one thing leads to another...

Speaking of which, I keep hearing of all these great catalog reissues, campaigns and promotions — from 20th Century Fox's 50th anniversary edition of The Diary of Anne Frank (coming June 16 to both DVD and Blu-ray Disc) to the recent flurry of boxed sets of saucy 1920s and 1930s pictures released before the studios in 1934 began enforcing their restrictive Production Code — and I just can't help wondering why on earth are catalog sales still down? Box office is way up for the year, and I would think home video would be keeping pace. But from what I keep hearing from studio executives, new theatricals are hit or miss, resulting in a wash, while the real category drag is catalog. Maybe our industry, as a whole, needs to do a better job of informing the public of what's out there and why they should own it.

It's funny — I still remember the yearly calls for an industrywide awareness campaign back in the middle 1990s, when VHS was maturing and consumer spending was flattening out. It seems to me our industry could use an awareness campaign now, more than ever — and yet no one's even brought up the concept, much less a realistic game plan. Studio executives, are you listening?

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