Dec. 30, 2005
Warner tops DVD share in 'Incredible' '05 By Thomas K. Arnold
The sky might not have fallen on the fast-maturing DVD business in 2005. But the double-digit revenue growth studio home entertainment divisions have enjoyed almost since the format's launch in 1997 did come to a grinding halt.
Final numbers on consumer spending won't be available until later this week, but the consensus among studio executives, analysts and other observers is that it might be hard to top the record $24.5 billion consumers spent on home video purchases and rentals in 2004.
This comes despite a late-year surge that saw exceptional sales for several titles released late in the fourth quarter, including Universal Studios Home Entertainment's "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," which sold 3.7 million copies in the first six days after its Dec. 13 release.
"We're now at almost 5 million units," Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau said. "This tremendous surge at the end of the year shows consumers embraced DVD as much as they have in prior years. When it comes down to giving gifts for the holidays, DVDs still are one of the premier choices."
Indeed, most observers attribute the flattening of the market to deep discounting at retail rather than consumer disinterest -- though the down boxoffice certainly didn't help matters. Wal-Mart stores during the holidays were selling such top theatrical titles as "Shark Tale" and "Shrek 2" for as little as $3.99. On Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season -- Circuit City had a selection of hits, including "The Incredibles," the year's No. 1 DVD seller, priced at just $8.98.
Although year-end revenue numbers have not been tallied, two things that have been decided are the annual market-share derby among studios and the year's top DVD sellers.
Analyzing Nielsen VideoScan data, Home Media Retailing's market research department gives the 2005 market-share crown to Warner Home Video, with a 19.8% share. Warner had several huge DVD titles for the year, including "Batman Begins," "The Polar Express" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." But it owes its victory more to the sheer mass of product it pumped into the market, including well-received special editions of classics like "The Wizard of Oz" and franchise properties in the TV-DVD and children's video arena.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment came in second, with a market share estimated at 14.9%. The studio's video coffers were fueled by "The Incredibles," the year's top-selling DVD, and strong performances by special DVD editions of "Bambi" and "Cinderella."
Fox fielded a slate of big sellers throughout the year, including "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" and "Fantastic Four," all fourth-quarter titles that maintained momentum through the holiday selling season.
"The Incredibles" was the top-selling DVD, with total sales to date estimated at 17.4 million units by Home Media Retailing.
Second place went to Fox's "Sith," with year-to-date sales pegged at 10.4 million units, followed by DreamWorks' "Madagascar" and "Shark Tale," tied for third with sales of 10 million units each.
Warner's "Express" came in at No. 5 with estimated sales of 8.1 million units, followed by Universal's "Fockers" (No. 6, 7.21 million units), Buena Vista's "National Treasure" (No. 7, 7.2 million), Buena Vista's platinum edition of "Cinderella" (No. 8, 6.56 million), Universal's "Ray" (No. 9, 6.53 million) and Warner's "Batman Begins" (No. 10, 6.15 million).