Happy New Year Indeed for DVD

With more than 1 million units sold in the fourth quarter of 1999, the DVD market soared over the holiday season, just-released stats show.

With many retailers struggling to keep players in stock, at least one outlet was reporting holiday increases in DVD hardware and software in the triple-digit range.

“It was a huge item at Christmas,” Warner Home Video Vice President of DVD Marketing Steve Nickerson said in a statement. “Some retailers thought they were overstocked but ended up selling out.”

Despite early naysaying and a frontal assault from a well-financed competitor, the DVD format has not only survived, it has become arguably the most successful consumer-electronics product launch in history.

With more than 5.4 million players sold since its bow in 1997, the DVD format is expected to hit the 8 million-players-sold mark sometime this year — increasing its reach to about 10 percent of U.S. households.

Addressing a mostly industry crowd at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, DVD-Entertainment Group Chairman Emiel N. Petrone expressed his excitement over the format’s success.

“The future for home video is here,” Petrone said. “DVD is the medium of the millennium.”

DVD supporters have a great deal to be excited about. Beyond the strong numbers and positive outlook, several studios will join forces with most of the heavyweights in the DVD hardware field to execute what they call the “largest DVD promotion ever.” The promotion, running Feb. 19 through May 30, will offer five free DVD movies to consumers who purchase a player from any of the participating manufacturers. Those involved include JVC, Philips, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, RCA, Proscan, GE, Toshiba and Zenith.

Films being offered to consumers are Columbia/TriStar’s “Fools Rush In;” Universal’s special edition of “The Jackal;” “Analyze This” from Warner Bros.; MGM’s “Get Shorty” and New Line’s Platinum Edition of “The Mask.”


This is a relatively quiet week on the DVD front. Despite more than 70 releases, only a handful is likely to get enthusiasts excited. Among the higher-profile titles out today:

— The horror flick “Lake Placid” ($34.98 suggested retail price) and the comedy “Mystery Men” ($24.98 SRP). Though neither fared very well at the box office (about $31 million and $29 million, respectively), home video and DVD might serve as their comeback vehicles. While “Lake Placid” offers little in terms of extras (there’s a behind-the-scenes featurette and the original theatrical trailer), “Mystery Men” includes a series of deleted scenes as well as a featurette.

— “Lord of the Flies” ($39.95 SRP). This Criterion special edition of the 1963 drama features a running audio commentary by director Peter Brook, producer Lewis Allen, director of photography Tom Hollyman and editor Gerland Feil. Other extras include: a deleted scene with commentary, production notes, home movies, outtakes, the original trailer and excerpts from Gerald Feil’s 1972 documentary “The Empty Space.”