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‘Beast’ falls;Disney still sell-through star

Even with “Beauty and the Beast” knocked from the No. 1 spot, Disney’s marketing roar could still be heard throughout the video sell-through biz.

Disney is enjoying success with limited-release chestnuts like “101 Dalmatians” and “Fantasia,” while its new Muppet editions are hopping up the chart.

During their second week on the chart, “The Muppet Movie” and “The Great Muppet Caper” each saw unit volume increase by more than 10,000 over the previous week. “The Muppet Movie” went from about 20,000 to just shy of 30,000 and bounced up from the No. 8 slot to No. 3 on the Daily Variety/VideoScan Top 25 chart. “Caper,” meanwhile, was able to sneak up from No. 22 to No. 8, selling close to 23,000 units compared to a little over 12,000 units its first week on the chart.

Together with the strong showing of MCA’s just-released “Fried Green Tomatoes ,” the Muppet pix were among the new titles that helped lure consumers into stores and stand to create a sizable spillover effect for other titles. The result: For the first time in the young year, the entire sell-through category was up from the previous week.

Sales totaled just under 2.5 million units for the week, a jump of about 100, 000 from a week earlier. So far, just over 14 million videos have been sold this year. Almost 8 million were theatrical titles, 2.4 million were kidvids and 1.5 million were sweatcassettes.

There are clear indications that newly released titles are bringing in consumers who had lately been tightfisted about buying vids. Titles that have been on the shelves for weeks suddenly are sprouting wings. Although 11 of the top 25 titles saw sales dip from last week, the losses were mostly marginal. The gains, on the other hand, were significant.

Aside from the healthy numbers posted by the two Muppets pix, “Beauty and the Beast”– though no longer perched atop the sell-through heap — saw sales climb from under 35,000 units during the previous week to more than 45,000 units last week.

Similarly, “101 Dalmatians,” also on the chart all year, saw sales fatten by more than 10,000 units in a single week, while “The Jungle Book” sales soared from 7,000 units to about 14,000.

The success of the three Disney titles can be traced to the supplier’s hyperactive marketing. Evergreen titles are made available to retailers for a limited time and are backed with aggressive promo campaigns. The studio can also look forward to the March re-release of “Pinocchio,” a sure bet to scale the sell-through chart.

Disney owns 10 of the top 25 spots this week, accounting for close to 215,000 units sold.

While Disney continued its overall domination of the video sell-through market, the top spot shifted this week to Barney the Dinosaur. Nine “Barney” vids made the chart this week, the same number as last week, including top-selling “Barney’s Magical Musical Adventure,” which sold just under 50,000 units. A week earlier, as the tape was being rolled out, less than 15,000 cassettes were sold.

Sales of MCA’s “Fried Green Tomatoes” were heated by a $ 3 rebate offer from the supplier. While the drama cracked the chart in the No. 4 position with close to 30,000 units sold, past trends suggest it will have an abrupt rise and fall. Historically, the only vids that display staying power are those with strong appeal to kids (“Batman Returns,””Beethoven”) and sweatcassettes.

The VCR’s role as babysitter has given the kidvid category more consistent price points. While cheapo kidvid tapes abound (often public domain cartoons and the like), the most popular price point for the kiddie category appears to be around $ 14.95.

A year-to-date breakdown of sales by category and price point indicates that of the 470,000 kidvid units sold, more than half were priced between $ 13 and $ 14.99. Only 14,000 were priced between $ 15 and $ 19.99 and virtually none went above $ 20.

But theatrical titles are all over the pricing map. Half the 1.4 million pix on vid sold so far this year were priced between $ 15 and $ 25, while nearly 300 ,000 were under $ 10 and 43,000 were priced higher than $ 25.

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