Make-or-Break Holiday Time

Oct 31, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The big buzz in the DVD industry this holiday season is about the titles that were not released. After months of announcements and threats of a format war, the studios decided to delay releasing movies on a new high-definition DVD format, prompting a huge sigh of relief from executives who didn’t want any distractions during the key holiday buying season.

For the home video industry, the holidays are akin to the summer blockbuster season in theaters. Forty percent of home video revenue is generated in the fourth quarter, according to supplier estimates, making it the make-or-break period for the industry.

This season the studios have crammed more than 28 titles with theatrical pedigrees onto the schedule, including nine that broke the $100 million mark, led by the 800-pound gorilla of home video, “Star Wars III: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith.”

There are also at least a dozen TV packages, ranging from “The Munsters” to “Beavis and Butthead” as well as season sets of “Seinfeld” and the final season of “Friends.” Toss in the first season of “The White Shadow,” and DVD shoppers will have to make some tough choices.

Of the big summer titles, only “Wedding Crashers” slid out of the holiday season, moved to Jan. 3 by New Line. Even Universal’s “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” which was still in theaters in August, was pushed into a Dec. 13 release, hoping to pick up some of the holiday dollars. “Polar Express” and “Christmas With the Kranks,” two 2004 holiday releases, were also held for this year’s holiday video season.

“You want to get the product out when people are in a buying mood,” said Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research.

Of course, that has a downside for consumers: “I don’t know how anyone can afford to buy all this stuff,” said Bill Hunt, editor of Digitalbits.com, a popular DVD site. “You’d have to get a second job.” -KEVIN BRASS