Looking for a hot date
Consumers should brace themselves for an all-out DVD feeding frenzy this holiday season. With more than 30 theatrical blockbusters coming to DVD in the last three months of this year, not to mention special editions and gift sets, shelf space will be at a premium.
Fahrenheit 9/11, the first documentary to break the $100M barrier, arrives on DVD just in time to allow for a pre-election viewing.
That means consumers had better buy their favorites as soon as they come out, or else they might be gone.
Indeed, the summer’s only half over, but already studios are jockeying for prime DVD release dates for the fall. And picking the right date, studio executives say, has become almost as tricky as it is in the theatrical world, where dates are locked down months in advance and distributors will do everything to avoid butting heads with a mega-hit such as Spider-Man 2.
“Dating is incredibly critical, and the best dater wins, for the most part,” says Mike Dunn, president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, whose big fourth-quarter DVDs include the Star Wars trilogy (Sept. 21), The Day After Tomorrow (Oct. 12), Dodgeball, Garfield and I, Robot.
Fourth-quarter dates DVDs are typically released on Tuesdays are filling up fast, but studios are jockeying for position so they don’t step on each other’s toes.
“Many other guys make up policiesóthey decide to go earlier with everything, or later ó but we don’t do that,” Dunn says. “You’ve got to look at the film and at the audience.”
Holiday shoppers, take note: The DVD dating game is not without its potential pitfalls, for consumers and studios alike.
If studios release their hot titles early to allow for maximum exposure, they might already be off store shelves by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that marks the traditional start of the holiday buying rush.
If they send their DVDs to stores right before Christmas to take advantage of the impulse buyer, there might not be enough shopping days left for their title to find its stride.
And if they come out with their hot titles in October and November, they might find everyone else had the same idea and they’re competing against three or four other blockbusters.
“I think everyone, given their druthers, would like a date for themselves,” says Bob Chapek, president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. “But there’s such an embarrassment of riches this fourth quarter that every single street date is going to be taken.”
Here’s a look at summer movies already slotted for release. (All dates are subject to change):
Mean Girls, Paramount
Star Wars, Fox
Fahrenheit 9/11, Columbia TriStar
The Day After Tomorrow Fox
Van Helsing, Universal, Garfield, Fox
White Chicks, Columbia TriStar
Also expected in October
The Notebook, New Line
The Stepford Wives, Paramount
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Warner
Also expected in November
Shrek 2, DreamWorks
Spider-Man 2, Columbia TriStar
Expected in December
I, Robot, Fox
The Terminal, Warner
The Chronicles of Riddick, Universal
Looking for a hot date