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October Gifts Strong Sales

1 Dec, 2005 By: Judith McCourt

With the biggest releases of the season slated for November and December release, the fourth quarter nevertheless got off to a solid start in October.

Video sales for the month rang in at $1.14 billion, up 9.3 percent from the comparable four-week period in 2004, according to Home Media Research estimates.

DVD sales accounted for $1.12 billion of the total, up 14.1 percent from the same period last year. Although unit sales were up just 1 percent for the period, according to Nielsen VideoScan data, consumers showed a renewed interest in new releases, which, with a higher price point, drove the total. The top two sellers for the month, Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Cinderella and Warner Home Video's Batman Begins, sold through 10.8 percent more units than the top two sellers of October 2004, 20th Century Fox's The Day After Tomorrow and Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Van Helsing.

October's basket of new releases fared better than those in previous months. They piqued the interest of consumers, perhaps suggesting that what they missed on the big screen may be attractive on DVD. Unit sales of the top 50 sellers were off just 4.4 percent from the same month last year. By comparison, unit sales of September's new release lineup were off 25 percent from the previous September.

TV DVD sales continued to pull ahead of last year, adding loft to the total take. For the four-week period ended Oct. 29, unit sales of TV-based product were up 18 percent, according to Nielsen VideoScan data. The uptick was even more pronounced among the top 50 sellers, with TV DVD titles showing a whopping 68 percent increase in unit sales.

Home Media Research estimates that TV DVD sales in October totaled $221 million. The No. 1 seller in the category was Paramount Home Entertainment's South Park: The Complete Sixth Season.

Warner Home Video was the market share leader for the month. The supplier grabbed more than a quarter (26.6 percent) of the dollars spent at retail, according to Home Media Research estimates.

Warner's heavy TV DVD release schedule added muscle to the tally, accounting for 30 percent of the supplier's take for the month.

Batman Begins, which generated $205.5 million at the box office, was Warner's top seller in October. Home Media Research estimates October sales of Batman Begins at just more than 4 million units.

Three Warner TV DVD releases debuted on the top 50 sellers list: Gilmore Girls: The Complete First Season, Gilmore Girls: The Complete Second Season and Smallville: The Complete Fourth Season.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment finished in the No. 2 spot (16.7 percent) for October. The platinum edition of Cinderella sold through nearly 4.5 million units to consumers, enough to place it among the top 10 sellers so far this year.

Buena Vista's TV DVD releases showed strong sales legs, with Lost: The Complete First Season and Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season, both released in September, among October's top 10 TV DVD sellers.

Home Media Research estimates 12.3 percent of Buena Vista's October retail revenue came from TV DVD fare.

Rounding out the top five finishers were 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (No. 3, 14 percent), Universal Studios Home Entertainment (No. 4, 10.4 percent) and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (No. 5, 10 percent).

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