Harry Potter’s magic rescues the US video market in Q2

MUMBAI: The DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD) release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in April bolstered US physical video sales following a soft first quarter, according to new IHS Screen Digest research.
US DVD and BD consumer spending during April and the first two weeks of May posted a year-over-year increase of 1.6 percent thanks to a two-week sales explosion around Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The strength of Harry Potter and a strong supporting cast of other titles produced two weeks of 30 percent-plus overall market growth. On that sales surge, the U.S. physical video market pared its annual decline to a 14.9 percent contraction by mid-May, an improvement of more than 6 percentage points compared to the total at the end of the first quarter.
“Harry Potter arrived just in the nick of time for the U.S. video market. First-quarter sales reflected a release slate with relatively weak performances at the theatrical box office compared to those issued during the same period in 2010. The huge week-over-week gains that Harry Potter drove for the overall market show how important big hits are to driving increased traffic and overall sales, even though new-release feature films represent only 28 percent of physical video unit sales,” said IHS principal analyst and director, US Media Tom Adams.
Harry Potter and friends vs. Avatar
The bounce in physical video sales came just as the disc-sales market was due to come up against year-to-date comparisons that included the April 22, 2010, disc release of Avatar, the biggest box-office title of all time. In its first four weeks on the video market, Avatar sold through an estimated 10.7 million discs.
None of the top April/May 2011 releases matched the Avatar numbers, but as a group, market leader Harry Potter and a strong supporting lineup managed hold sales in April to just a 9 percent decline compared to the same period in 2010. The other top titles included Tangled, released March 29, which performed strongly throughout April, as well as Tron: Legacy and Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Harry Potter worked his two weeks of magic beginning with an April 15, 2011, release on a Friday, giving it a one-week head start over Avatar’s Friday release date of April 22, 2010.
The Blu-ray format continues to expand its share of new hit sales, jumping from an estimated 27 percent of total new-release shipments in 2010 to a projected 40 percent by the end of this year. The new-release movies that make up 28 percent of unit sales drive more than 43 percent of total annual disc revenue—much of which arrives in the fourth quarter. Although the first quarter box office results were also soft, second quarter results are improving compared to the same period in 2010.
“Given the softness of the first quarter box office, the gains driven by Harry Potter in April are likely to give way to some soft video comparisons in the summer months. However, a recent strengthening in box office results – plus a powerhouse summer slate that includes Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – should drive a strong fourth quarter,” Adams said.