In addition to providing fans the opportunity to relive their favorite flicks, discs are becoming an increasingly popular venue for alternate endings, extended scenes, gag reels and other viewer treats. And for theatrical aficionados, Blu-ray discs provide both exclusive content as well as higher audio and video definition than traditional, less-expensive DVDs.
Notably, special/limited editions for fan favorites like The Dark Knight can make up a significant percentage of overall sales – amounting to as much as 13 percent. Similarly, when Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) hit the after-theater market from 2005-2012, the limited edition Blu-ray sales outpaced DVDs at 704,000 units compared to 557,000.
The Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises have done well in this arena as well, as their movies have been made available in deluxe, limited edition and digital version DVD pack offerings. Notably, the Harry Potter movies introduced “Ultimate Versions,” multiple-disc releases featuring additional footage, interactive galleries, behind the scenes clips and games. There was even a DVD game released in 2009 called Wizarding World. Meanwhile, the Lord of the Rings trilogy has amassed nearly 50 standard, limited editions, extended versions, box-set extended versions, trilogy sets, and Blu-ray Steelbooks (Blu-ray discs packaged in steel cases).
But the special discs aren’t reserved for films that hit the big screen. Some movies, unlike several of these larger franchises, resonate strongly with a niche audience and skip the expensive theatrical release by going straight to disc. In many cases, the straight-to-disc releases build on the popularity of an existing brand or franchise and cater to enough of a core audience to support a lower-budget film.
For example, the American Pie franchise included four theater releases but continued its box office success with several direct-to-DVD releases: American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005), The Naked Mile (2006), Beta House (2007) and The Book of Love (2009). Bring It On has done the same, but did so after only one theatrical title. The four direct-to-DVD releases include Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006), Bring It On: In It to Win It (2007) and Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (2009). The approach works for children’s releases as well, as Air Bud has established a nice franchise with two theatricals and 10 direct-to-DVD releases. Furthermore, Dreamworks has been successful in transitioning brands to children’s non-theatrical releases with Madly Madagascar, which has sold over half a million copies, and the series of children’s non-theatrical titles that stars the penguins (and friends) have had nine direct-to-disc titles.
As we’ve seen so far with games and now with home entertainment, movie brands are no longer just theater experiences. The opportunities are endless when it comes to creating engaging experiences for movie fans.
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