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Germans, French See Eye to Eye With U.S. on DVD

22 Feb, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf

While French, German and U.S. officials may not see eye to eye on Iraq, their citizens are united in their support of DVD.

France's 2002 home entertainment revenue, thanks to nearly 100 percent DVD growth, grew by 30 percent, to $1.1 billion, according to the French Video Publishing Union (SEV).

In Germany, the home entertainment industry experienced a record year. By the end of November alone, the German video industry had already grown by more than 22 percent, to $1.2 billion, according to GfK Group, a European market research institute.

In both countries, DVD dominated the sellthrough market.

In France, home entertainment software sales reached $1.06 billion, up 36 percent from sales in 2001, and for the first time, disc sales outnumbered VHS sales, according to SEV. Home entertainment consumers in France bought 49 million discs -- spending the equivalent of about $767 million. VHS sales dropped 12 percent, to 32 million units (about $294 million).

DVD made up two-thirds ($591.9 million) of Germany's $886.7 million in video sales in 2002, GfK estimated. Germany's DVD sales nearly doubled from 2001, growing from 14.8 million units in 2001 to 28.2 million units in 2002. VHS sales fell 8 percent, to 23.9 million units, according to GfK.

On the rental side, DVD again came out on top in both European markets, but rental revenue dipped in France and increased only marginally in Germany.

Rental revenue in France dropped 6 percent, to $97.2 million, though rental turns actually clocked in a bit higher at 2.7 million, up from 2.3 million in 2001, according to SEV. While DVD rentals grew by 118 percent, to 1.3 million turns, VHS rentals dropped 21 percent, to 1.4 million turns.

VHS also still leads the rental market in Germany. Rental revenue in the country last year actually increased 3 percent, to $342.9 million, according to GfK. Rental revenue from DVD made up more than one-third of the total take, with $129 million in 2002.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was the top DVD seller in both countries, though Germany's No. 2 DVD seller, Manitou's Shoe, a regional favorite, beat out Fellowship and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States) for the top VHS spot.

Manitou's Shoe, a comedy/western starring and directed by German filmmaker Michael Herbig, was distributed in the country by Universium Film, the German video division of European broadcaster RTL group.

In other news for Germany's home video pipeline, Universium recently closed a deal with another film supplier, Transit Film, to acquire VHS and DVD rights to the Transit Classics label, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Through the deal, Universium owns the German video rights to some silent film epics, including Nosferatu and Fritz Lang's Metropolis. This month, those titles and others under the deal will be repackaged and released under Universium's UFA Classics label. The first release will be a special double-disc premium edition of Metropolis, which will include audio commentary from a film historian, documentaries on the original production and the recent restoration of the classic and archival photos and film material from the Berlin Film Museum, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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