VSDA's vid confab draws all majoir studios

HOLLYWOOD — For the first time in four years, every major DVD studio will be at the Video Software Dealers Assn.’s annual convention in Las Vegas next month.

Disney, DreamWorks, Lions Gate, Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal, and Warner have all booked meeting rooms at Home Entertainment 2005, July 26-28, along with nearly 200 other exhibitors.

And for the first time in years, everyone will be at the same resort, the Bellagio Hotel & Casino, where Warner had been camped for years while VSDA was situated mostly at the Venetian.

Other studios also had set up meeting rooms in hotels separate from the VSDA in the past, and some studios had pulled out of the annual date in the desert altogether.

Having hit attendance lows of just a few thousand several years ago after consistently reaching about 14,000 or so in the halcyon days of the mid-1990s, VSDA restructured the confab by downsizing to primarily conference sessions and meeting rooms with little or no exhibit floor and shortening the duration.

On upswing

VSDA President Bo Andersen said that the restructuring a couple years and now the move to the Bellagio is reviving interest in an event that once featured lavish sponsored dinners and presentations by most of the major studios.

Although some studios will only be sending a small contingent of sales execs to meet with attendees that primarily represent smaller independent retailers, VSDA officials are nonetheless pleased with their renewed support and that the convention has attracted 60 first-time exhibitors, including 16 indie film and music suppliers as well as DVD vending machine manufacturers.

Paid attendee registration is outpacing last year and blocks of reserved rooms at the Bellagio sold out weeks ago even after expanding multiple times.

Although no keynote speaker has been confirmed, comedian Richard Lewis has been announced to host the awards program July 27; Tony Orlando & Dawn will perform at the opening-night pool party.

(Eliza Gallo and Susanne Ault of Daily Variety sister publication Video Business contributed to this report.)

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