Changing Profile of DVD Video Sales

DVD's early adopters were almost entirely technophile males, and their tastes in films were completely predictable: action and science fiction. Now that DVD players are finding their way into more homes, the popularity of other film genres in the digital format is growing.

According to results tracked by VideoScan and reported last week by the Los Angeles-based DVD Video Group, comedy, drama, and romance are all gaining popularity---and a bigger piece of the sales pie. The May 24 report states that "non-action titles encompass more than 25% of this year's Top 100 DVD-Video sales to date, up from 13% in 1998." Shoot-'em-ups and other "guy stuff" still account for 75% of sales, but other genres are gaining rapidly. The report sums up the situation as "an emerging trend toward the family market."

DVD Video Group President Paul Culberg, of Columbia TriStar Home Video, says, "Clearly, DVD Video is reaching beyond the early adopter to more mainstream consumers. We're encouraged that DVD-Video is popular with the entire household, and I think you'll see studios releasing more family titles to satiate the consumer's appetite for these titles." For the week ending May 16, 18 of the Top 50 DVD video titles were non-action films. Among them were such classics as The King and I, The Ten Commandments, and Gone With the Wind.

G-rated fare also did well. Rugrats and Babe: Pig in the City were popular with parents and kids alike. VideoScan tracks sales of DVDs and VHS tapes at more than 16,000 retailers nationwide, including mass-marketers like Circuit City, Best Buy, MusicLand, and Tower Records. Compiled data are made available to retailers, distributors, and film studios, as well as to non-profit industry organizations like the DVD Video Group. Year-to-date DVD sales (through May 16), according to the group:

1. Armageddon (Buena Vista)
2. Rush Hour (New Line)
3. Blade (New Line)
4. Ronin (MGM)
5. The Waterboy* (Buena Vista)
6. A Bug's Life* (Buena Vista)
7. Lethal Weapon 4 (Warner)
8. The Truman Show* (Paramount)
9. Soldier (Warner)
10. Negotiator (Warner)
11. You've Got Mail* (Warner)
12. Vampires (Columbia TriStar)
13. Snake Eyes (Paramount)
14. Practical Magic* (Warner)
15. Out of Sight (Universal)
16. Pleasantville* (New Line)
17. The Mask of Zorro (Columbia TriStar)
18. The Avengers (Warner)
19. Meet Joe Black* (Universal)
20. Mighty Joe Young* (Buena Vista)
21. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery* (New Line)
22. Ever After---A Cinderella Story* (Twentieth Century Fox)
23. Siege (Twentieth Century Fox)
24. Star Trek: Insurrection (Paramount)
25. Antz* (DreamWorks)

*Non-Action Titles