Market Watch

Blu-ray Sales Get a Boost with Hot Titles

“Star Wars,” “Thor” and other movies enjoy brisk sales

October 28, 2011

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The strong retail performance of “Thor” and the “Star Wars” saga on Blu-ray Disc (BD) prompted a 156 percent surge in U.S. sales of the format in the release week ending September 18, possibly pointing to brighter days ahead for the overall market for movies on disc, according to the new IHS report “Star Wars Shines in its BD Debut,” from information and analysis provider IHS.

That triple-digit year-over-year-growth caps a period in which U.S. BD sales already were starting to post the kind of robust growth rates the new format’s backers had hoped for following its 2006 launch. According to an IHS analysis of Nielsen’s VideoScan data, U.S. BD sales posted a 131 percent increase for the week of September 11, supported by the release of “X-Men: First Class.”  The market also was helped by a 60 percent gain the week of September 4, due in part to the release of “Tyler Perry’s Big Happy Fam­ily” and “Sons of Anarchy: Season 3,” as well as the continued solid sales of “Rio,” released on August 2 but remaining the No. 1 BD title for the week.

The boost in sales propelled growth of the overall market for physical movies in the United States into positive territory for the week of September 18. Combined U.S. DVD and BD sales rose 1 percent for the week, compared to flat growth during the week of September 11 and a 3 percent decline during the week of September 4.

Hollywood studios are starting to bring the crown jewels out of the vault for the BD market. That, coupled with the first releases from a very strong summer box offi ce, has the potential to turn the movie disc market around. While DVD sales have been weak in 2011, the overall disc market may have hit an inflection point with the strong showing of “X-men: First Class,” “ Thor” and “Star Wars.”

“X-men: First Class” kicked off the BD sales rally with a Friday release on September 9, selling an estimated 350,000 BD units in its first three days at retail and more than 600,000 by the end of its fi rst full week on the market, according to an IHS analysis of Nielsen VideoScan data.

“Thor” and “Thor 3D” arrived on video September 13, and together sold half a million BDs during their first week of availability. Blu-ray 3D represented 14 percent of the total units sold, with BD/DVD combo packs making up a much larger 86 percent.

“Star Wars” fans greeted the Friday, September 16, arrival of the iconic movie series on BD with enthusiasm, buying a total of 400,000 units in the United States in just its first three days of availability. The six-movie, nine-disc set represented 92 percent of total units sold for the title, with the original and prequel trilogies making up the rest.

The $139.99 manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP) for “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” was heavily discounted: currently lists the BD set for $82.99, while Walmart has the set for sale online at $79.99. That suggests retail revenue was $30 million from its first three days of sales.

Read More > IHS Screen Digest U.S. Video Intelligence

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