Wednesday, July 05, 2006

DVD Sales Are Strong. Shhhhh!

Variety says DVD sales and rentals in the first half of the year are strong. The top seller? "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" which has sold some 12 million copies. Then it discusses something that drives me bonkers: how all the studios refuse to give anything but the most general info on DVD sales. Compare their absolute refusal to give any info to the weekend box office, where every release has its success (or failure) listed down to the penny. Variety cites two reasons for this tight-lipped attitude: Wal-Mart doesn't take part in VideoScan (a major source) and so the figures would be misleading. (You could of course estimate their sales.) And it's really, really hard to keep track of sales because they take place in so many outlets. (Please. Again, you could always use a sample of stores and extrapolate.) But the biggest reason, which Variety doesn't mention? They live in fear of Hollywood stars realizing that most of the money is made on DVD and demanding their cut. The really big stars -- like Speilberg and Cruise -- already take this into account. So it's really quite stupid of them; they're missing out on massive free publicity every week by not listing the grosses of new DVD releases. Hollywood likes to complain about how expensive movies are to make and bitch and moan that the box office remains steady around $10 billion a year. What they don't mention is that they make an additional $20 billion a year on DVD.

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