Year-over-year unit sales comparisons for physical video discs continued to improve through the month of September as a selection of popular catalog titles debuted on the Blu-ray Disc (BD) format, boosting sales of the first major summer tentpoles to arrive on home video, according to IHS Screen Digest insights.
Based on Nielsen VideoScan data on total year-todate video sales to U.S.
consumers, August figures this year trailed those from the same month last year
by negative 10.3 percent, but September finished by being down just negative 9.4
percent compared to year-over levels.
"Transformers: The Dark of the Moon" shot to the top of the sales charts on the
strength of its initial release week, selling well over a million units in just
the first three days following its debut on Friday, Sept. 30. By the end of its
first full week, the title had sold through 1.6 million units, generating more
than $30 million for distributor Paramount. Another movie, "Star Wars," sold an
estimated first-week total of 520,000 units after moving 400,000 units in its
initial three days at retail. For comparison purposes, so-called "first week
sales" for Friday releases combine units sold during the initial weekend plus
the first full week of sales.
In the case of "Stars Wars: The Complete Saga," its higher price point made the
release the top September title in dollar terms, with estimated first-week
revenue to Fox of $40 million. Universal's "Bridesmaids" was a break-out hit,
selling an estimated 430,000 BD units in its first week at retail, an
exceptionally strong performance for a character-based comedy that primarily
targeted a female demographic. When DVD sales are added for "Bridesmaids," it
was actually the No. 2 title for the month.
While overall U.S. disc sales are still dominated by DVD, more than 50 percent
are in the form of BD sales in their ﬁrst week at retail, especially for major
hit-feature films. Most major titles now have BD versions that include a DVD in
the box, often including digital copy as well, and video consumers are showing a
willingness to pay a little more for what they perceive as significant extra
value. A few titles are still being offered with the option of a BD/DVD combo or
a BD-only SKU; the BD-only version is often offered at a lower price point.
A handful of titles have released with two BD SKUs at the same price, each of
which contains a DVD in the package, the only difference being the packaging:
one is sold in DVD-style packing but includes a BD as well, the other is sold as
a BD with a DVD copy. Older catalog titles are achieving healthy sales by
putting a BD, DVD and digital copy in one box, and then priced for impulse buys
at $14.99 and below. As the practice of including a BD in most video SKUs takes
hold, a significant shift in the BD-to-DVD sales ratios can be expected, as IHS
Screen Digest counts any SKU with a BD copy as a BD sale.
The combination of Universal's "Fast Five" video debut with the BD release of
Disney's "The Lion King" and "The Lion King 3D," as well as the first full week
of sales for "Transformers: The Dark of the Moon," all helped to drive sales
gains in the first week of the fourth quarter, pushing the year-to-date
comparison of discs sold for the week ending October 9 to negative 9.2 percent.
After roaring back to life in its theatrical 3-D release, earning more than $90
million at the box office through Oct. 19 (according to Box Office Mojo), the
combined BD and BD3D releases of "The Lion King" and "The Lion King 3D," along
with the 3-D "Lion King Trilogy," sold more than 1 million units in their first
week at retail. In comparison, "Fast Five" sold an estimated 790,000 BD units - 52
percent of its total first-week disc sales.