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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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22 Mar, 2009

Before You Start Your Week...

Greetings — I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend and I truly feel honored that you are starting your work week right here, with my blog! Some big news came in, over the weekend: Summit Entertainment's Twilight sold a whopping 3 million DVDs its first day in stores this past Saturday. Home Media Magazine reporters were on the scene; click here to read their report. Also, Warner Home Video announced big plans to manufacture, on demand, titles from its 6,800-film vault that aren't currently available on DVD. Only about 1,200 titles from the Warner library are out on DVD at this point, and while the studio will continue to debut new catalog titles on DVD — based largely on how well these same films fared on VHS, which over the course of 20-plus years saw the release of about 4,100 films — many more titles will become available in this fashion, beginning with an initial wave of 150 titles that will grow to 350 titles by Christmas. Check out the Home Media Magazine Web site for the full story; for the consumer version, please see my story in today's USA Today by clicking here. Lastly, a cherished friend, Bruce Apar, former editor in chief of Video Business, wrote a particularly poignant tribute to his late son, Harrison, in the community paper he now runs in Connecticut. To all of you who knew Bruce back in the proverbial day: please read this (click here). It's one of the most touching essays I've ever read, and one of the finest pieces of writing, as well. I still remember Harrison and Bruce on the bus to the Super Bowl in 1999, I think it was — Bruce was telling his son to sit by him, while Harrison plopped himself down right next to me and said, "I'm going to sit with T.K." A truly spectacular kid, this Harrison Apar.

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20 Mar, 2009

The Highs and the Lows

I just finished writing an article for Home Media Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter about Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's elegant new Norman Lear Collection, a big TV DVD salute honoring the groundbreaking TV producer that's coming to stores June 9, just in time for Father's Day. The 19-disc set contains complete first-season sets of seven groundbreaking TV shows Lear created, including All in the Family, Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons, plus two discs containing more than six hours of bonus materials, including all-new interviews, documentaries and featurettes. It strikes me as ironic that these high-end gift sets appear to be weathering the recession quite well. While new release DVD spending is down about 13% and total disc spending is down 8%, according to Home Media Magazine market research, studios continue to get inventive and rely on fan power to sell special collections like this one and, of course, Warner's wonderful new Woodstock Ultimate Collectors Edition. Check out my story.

 

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20 Mar, 2009

Digital Copy, Sold to the Highest Bidder

The practice of including a digital copy with a DVD or Blu-ray Disc appears to have really caught on. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment alone has released 60 discs with digital copy, while 20th Century Fox has about 40. And the activation rate — the percentage of consumers who actually use the digital copy that comes with their DVD or Blu-ray Disc — is getting higher and higher, with several studio executives telling me it's now at around 20%. If anyone's wondering where the non-activated digital copies go, look no further than eBay. I did a search for "digital copy only" this morning and got about two dozen hits under the DVD/Blu-ray Disc category, ranging from opening bids of 99 cents to "buy it now" prices as high as $9.99 (for Transformers).

To view additional postings, visit the homepage for TK’s Take: http://www.homemediamagazine.com/blog/tks-take

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19 Mar, 2009

Shakeup at Best Buy

There's been another changing of the guard at Best Buy, sources say. Jill Hamburger, for years the consumer electronics chain's point person with the Hollywood studios, has reportedly taken a buyout, while the top DVD and Blu-ray Disc buyer has left the company. Hamburger’s former boss, Julie Owens, is reportedly the studios’ new contact; at last January’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Owens — Best Buy’s SVP of entertainment and digital applications — picked up Best Buy’s “retailer of the year” award from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Hamburger's position as VP of movies and games has long been one of the most important in the home entertainment retail sector, since the chain is one of the three largest sellers of DVD and Blu-ray Disc software in the country (Wal-Mart is No. 1 and Target Stores, No. 2). Hamburger's two predecessors, Gary Arnold and Joe Pagano, were both frequent guests at studio junkets, and Pagano was even hailed as Billboard's video "man of the year" in the late 1990s for his aggressive stance toward DVD.

To view additional postings, visit the homepage for TK’s Take.

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18 Mar, 2009

And We Have a Winner — By a Nose!

Just posted this week's chart story, and you have your choice of where to read it: in Home Media Magazine (www.homemediamagazine.com/research/pinocchio-tops-sales-charts-15061) or in The Hollywood Reporter (www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/technology/news/e3i43b2ec4937929a505219eeaba8b0530e).

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18 Mar, 2009

Some ‘Role Model,’ Eh?

I won’t be filing my weekly chart story until later today, but in the meantime I thought I would share with you some early tidbits. It seems the marketing executives at Universal Studios Home Entertainment are ecstatic over the performance of the comedy Role Models, which they released to stores on DVD and Blu-ray Disc a week ago Tuesday (March 10). The first day the title was in stores, consumers snapped up 25% of the initial shipment, and after six days a whopping 70% of inventory had already found its way into consumer homes—more than 2 million units. Smiles also are seen over at the Santa Monica, Calif. headquarters of Lionsgate, which says its release last week of Transporter 3 boasts the week’s No. 1 conversion rate (that’s how well a film performs on home video in relation to its box office earnings).

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17 Mar, 2009

Rental Rebound?

I was in the local Albertson's last night and the store was empty--except for a line of four people at the Redbox kiosk. Given the economy, video rental has got to be staging a comeback. I think the recent Blockbuster numbers, which showed a slight decrease in same-store rental revenue, might have been a bit deceiving because to the best of my knowledge Blockbuster wraps in sales of previously viewed discs with its rentals, and we all know that sector of the business is down. Someone else who believes rental just might have a rosy future is veteran analyst (and former manager editor of Home Media Magazine back when we were still known as Video Store Magazine) Tom Adams, who has this to say on his Web site: "Though consumers put the brakes on most discretionary spending during the second half of the year, the video rental segment wasn’t hit as hard other retail businesses. The main reason: new and attractive forms of rental—online subscriptions and $1/night kiosks—are making up for continued declines in traditional specialty-store rentals...As the rental business reached its 30th birthday, it is still the most popular way to watch movies at home, with a total of 2.5 billion rental turns in the United States last year." Adams notes that last year the video rental business finished the year "virtually flat," while "everything else was down."

 

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17 Mar, 2009

CDs Lose Ground to Digital

Just read the new report from The NPD Group that found there were nearly 17 million fewer CD buyers in 2008 compared to the prior year. The decline in CD buyers cut across all demos, but was particularly focused on teens and consumers ages 50 and up. The number of Internet users paying for digital music increased by about 8 million in 2008 to 36 million, according to the report. Purchases of online digital music downloads increased 29% since last year and now account for 33% of all music tracks purchased in the United States.

The press released quoted Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group and an old friend of Home Media Magazine, as saying, "Rising incidence of paid downloads is a positive development for the industry, but not all lost CD buyers are turning to digital music." Interesting — this underscores the importance of keeping packaged media alive and healthy, because you're not going to make up for it on the digital side. 
 

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16 Mar, 2009

Bishop Tells It Like It Is

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment worldwide president David Bishop's keynote address at PEVE in Paris last Friday created quite a stir. Bishop delivered an eloquent defense of home entertainment, noting that worldwide ours is still a $50 billion a year business and claiming that Blu-ray Disc is indeed fulfilling its promise as the rightful successor to DVD. You can read the full story about his speech in the news section of our Web site, but I wanted to make sure everyone heard his closing line: "In reality, the prospects for home entertainment come down to a single proposition: Our ability to continue to engage end users by providing them the most compelling entertainment experience possible, while offering our retail partners innovative and strategic new business models that will ensure the success of our industry going forward." Amen to that!
 
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15 Mar, 2009

Box Office Bodes Well

I just finished covering the weekend's box office for USA Today.

Interesting — the box office is up 12% in revenue and 15% in attendance this year, and distributors are saying the audience for movies is broadening beyond their core demographic. Hopefully this will begin translating to our business.

You can read my story here: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2009-03-15-box-office_N.htm

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