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Adding nuance to the day's home entertainment news

Coming at you again -- VB's Women Elite

Posted by Marcy Magiera on September 12, 2008
No matter what your political persuasion, there's no denying that the 2008 presidential election has revitalized the national discussion about feminism, sexism and women in power positions.

In Hollywood, female executives often say that gender is no longer an issue in business. When we published our last Women Elite issue in March, 2007, some of the things the women who were recognized said about gender were that "in our industry, it’s probably less relevant than in other industries” and “ I never thought that gender would limit my possibilities." Some said there was no longer a need for an issue singling out women for their accomplishments. Some said "What about the guys?"

Maybe that's more than politically correct, maybe it's just p...Read More

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How much is too much?

Posted by Marcy Magiera on September 5, 2008

Amid post-Labor Day reports about the summer box-office’s sunny performance, The New York Times last week ran a story about a glut of films hitting Hollywood and making it difficult for even star vehicles to secure adequate theatrical distribution.

The two stories are separate, but taken together, illustrate the complexity of the movie business and, consequently, home entertainment retailing.

Theaters tallied $4.12 billion in summer movie ticket sales, according to VB sister publicationVariety, due largely to the $500 million-plus performance of Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight. While grosses were more or less on pace with 2007—off just 1% or so—that’s a function of hig...Read More

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Autumn in the air

Posted by Marcy Magiera on August 29, 2008

Labor Day. The kids go back to school and, any minute, the Halloween costumes will replace the backpacks and lunch boxes in Target—if they haven’t already. September is really just a transition month between summer and the fall holidays, or, as the time period is less poetically known in business, “the fourth quarter.”

Everyone recognizes the signs of the season. For consumers, it may be apparent in the seasonal displays at retail. For retailers, it’s the nailing down of DVD release dates for summer blockbusters.

The past week has brought
confirmation on two of the six $200 million-plus titles due in the quarter, Disney’s WALL-E and Sony’s Hancock.

The ...Read More

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Industries: Retail

No love for 'Love Guru'

Posted by Marcy Magiera on August 27, 2008
Rajan Zed, this one's for you.

For months, I've been getting emails from "rajanz", as I presume every journalist identifiable on the Internet also has, about boycotting Mike Myers comedy The Love Guru because it lampoons Hinduism. Rajan Zed is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, according to the email, and a Hindu chaplain in Reno, Nev., which explains his concern and his zeal to have this issue covered in the press. 

I, and everyone else on staff, have ignored these missives because they concerned the theatrical release, and, frankly, the stinky reviews for Guru seemed ample reason for people to stay away from the theater. (Though he did get some exposure on newsweek.washingtonpost.com's ...Read More

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Gas, food, shopping

Posted by Marcy Magiera on August 18, 2008

The growth in e-commerce has dramatically outpaced traditional retail sales since early in the decade, but in the current economy, it’s even starting to get harder to make a buck online.

E-commerce growth rates remain significantly stronger than bricks-and-mortar retail, where growth has been negative throughout 2008 when adjusted for inflation, according to ComScore and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

Nevertheless, growth in consumers’ online spending has slowed dramatically in 2008 as a result of price increases and the soft economy, says ComScore. E-commerce sales for the first half of the year were
$106 billion, including travel, according to ComScore, representing a growth rate of 12%—off from growth of 17% for the full year in 2007 and 20% in 2006.

In fact, a sharper first-quarter drop in e-commerce growth than ...Read More

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Industries: Retail

Alternative angle on digital adoption

Posted by Marcy Magiera on August 11, 2008

I was lounging on the bank of beautiful Lake Almanor in northern California last month, when I got a call from the office about the uproar an investment report by Lehman Brothers analyst Anthony J. DiClemente was causing in the industry. DiClemente, you might remember, downgraded the stocks of Disney, News Corp., Time Warner, CBS and Viacom on the belief that the shift to digital distribution is going to be too disruptive to the movie and TV industry. Specifically, that the decline in packaged media revenue would dramatically outpace digital revenue growth in the next two years.

A recent report from Screen Digest and Adams Media Research ought to be much better received.

...Read More

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'Mamma' kicks butt

Posted by Marcy Magiera on August 6, 2008
Mamma Mia! kicks Sex and the City's butt.
I say that as a card-carrying (in this case, a driver's license for age and gender verification is all that's required) member of the target audience for both films. In the wake of SATC's box-office success, much was made of the legions of "older" (not sure, but I think that means anyone over 30) females who swiped their credit cards for the chance to see four old friends -- who btw, are also "old" friends-- reunite on the big screen. Carrie Bradshaw and company had a built-in audience of fans of the long-running HBO series, and the film's $150 million b.o. take proved their loyalty. I was a fan, and I did swipe my card to see the reunion but, honestly, left feeling that the experience was fun, but a little flat. Sort of like watching a season of 13 shows truncat...Read More

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Industries: Studios/Suppliers

10 best films for kids

Posted by Marcy Magiera on August 6, 2008

The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media recently named its inaugural Kids First! Top 100 Kids Films and is working with distributors to get the titles merchandised at retail this month. This list (available at Kidsfirst.org/top100.html) provides a great promotional opportunity for any retailer that counts families with children among their core clientele, which is to say, just about any retailer. With rental on the upswing (see story, page 1) and the start of the school year nigh, families will be looking for quality, inexpensive entertainment they can enjoy together at home.

Here are the group’s Top 10 films for children ages 3-8, with comments from Coalition president Ranny Levy. “The films on this list portray the values and ethics that we,...Read More

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Perception vs. reality

Posted by Marcy Magiera on July 25, 2008

A front page story in Variety asked "Why are media slamming the B.O.?"

Its point was that major news outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal continue to report that there is a box-office slump even though year-to-date box-office grosses are in fact even with 2007, thanks to a boffo opening for Warner’s The Dark Knight. This sort of reporting “galls studio execs,” according to Variety (a sister publication to VB), and, presumably, the Variety scribes themselves, who have a much more nuanced understanding of Hollywood economics than many of their consumer media counterparts.

As distasteful as it is to question the work of other journalists, I can ...Read More

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Industries: Retail, VOD/Downloads

Blu-ray on holiday gift lists

Posted by Marcy Magiera on July 24, 2008
VB sister publication TWICE dedicates a feature story in its current issue to the holiday outlook for consumer electronics marketers. The consensus among CE distributors seems to be that a stay-at-home mentality among consumers combined with cheaper flat panel TVs and the looming digital-broadcast transition could make for a fairly merry holiday selling season. "Some consumers have made the decision to curtail travel and vacations due to high gas prices and have chosen to spend that money on improving their at-home lifestyle," Mike Hench, president of regional Edge Distributors Group told TWICE.
That could bode well for the marketers of Blu-ray players and movies. In an informal survey of execs, multiple distributors and retailers S...Read More

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Industries: High-Def, Software

Red Envelope gave Netflix film cred

Posted by Marcy Magiera on July 23, 2008

Some companies try to keep a low profile before their earnings announcements, but not Netflix. There ought to be lots of questions from analysts when the company releases its second quarter earnings on Friday, given recent news about the Watch Instantly service's availability on Xbox Live, the settlement of a four year-old class-action lawsuit and the shuttering of its Red Envelope indie film acquisition and distribution arm. 

Red Envelope and related earlier initiatives to give distribution to worthy indie films that otherwise would have no outlet to reach consumers have always been fantastic PR vehicles for Netflix, giving the service fabulous cred with cinephiles and a cool factor Blockbuster just can't buy. While it's undoubtedly true that Netflix did much bigger business with, say,  4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days than the aver...Read More

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Industries: Retail, VOD/Downloads

Flat is fat in 2008

Posted by Marcy Magiera on July 18, 2008

In home entertainment, halfway through 2008, the world is flat. And that is a very good performance for a non-essential (believe it or not, movies are not necessary to maintain life) product category when the price of essentials like food, housing and gasoline are skyrocketing.

VB’s midyear research report shows consumer spending on sales and rentals of all home entertainment formats holding steady just above $10 billion. That’s a big improvement over the midyear mark in 2007, when home entertainment spending was down 5%.

Sales of standard DVD do look to be off 2% to 4%, according to various studio estimates, but rental is up and Blu-ray, with about
$200 million in sales in the first half is offsetting the small standard
...Read More

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