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‘Hobbit’ Leads Pack of New Home Video Releases

Once again, three new releases debuted in the top three spots on the national home video sales charts for the week ending March 29.

This time, the leader of the pack is Warner’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the third installment in the adventure fantasy trilogy, which debuted at No. 1 on both the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert overall disc sales chart and Nielsen’s dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

The film earned $255.1 million in theaters and outsold Walt Disney Studios’ “Into the Woods,” which bowed at No. 2 on both charts, by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

Into the Woods” is a cinematic melting pot of several classic Grimm fairy tales, with a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Tracy Ullman, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt. The film was a box office success, earning $127.9 million in U.S. theaters.

The third new release, debuting at No. 3, also on both charts, is Universal Pictures’ “Unbroken,” a biodrama about Louis Zamperini, the Olympic athlete who joined the military during World War II but was captured by the Japanese Navy after his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean. “Unbroken” took in a domestic box office gross of $115.6 million and sold 25% as many units its first week in stores as “The Hobbit.”

“The Hobbit” generated 54% of its first-week sales from Blu-ray Disc, compared with 38% for “Into the Woods” and 44% for “Unbroken,” Nielsen data shows.

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The previous week’s top seller, DreamWorks Animation’s “Penguins of Madagascar,” distributed by 20th Century Fox, slipped to No. 4 on both charts its second week in stores, while Disney’s “Big Hero 6” moved back into the top five its fifth week in stores after finishing at No. 6 the previous week.

The top five on Home Media Magazine’s rental chart for the week consists of the same five titles as last week, due to the fact that the week’s big new releases are all from studios that hold off on selling Netflix and Redbox copies of their hot new titles until a month after street date, to prevent rentals from cannibalizing sales.

“Dumb and Dumber To,” from Universal Pictures, remains No. 1, Walt Disney Studios’ “Big Hero 6” moves back up to No. 2, Sony Pictures’ “Annie” repeats at No. 3, Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” slips to No. 4, and 20th Century Fox’s “Birdman” drops one notch to No. 5.

Thomas K. Arnold is editorial director of Home Media Magazine.

Top 20 Nielsen VideoScan First Alert chart for the week of 3/29/15:

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (new)
2. Into the Woods (new)
3. Unbroken (new)
4. The Penguins of Madagascar
5. Big Hero 6
6. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
7. Exodus: Gods and Kings
8. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
9. Annie
10. The Hobbit Trilogy (new)
11. Monster High: Haunted (new)
12. The Sound of Music
13. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
14. Despicable Me 2
15. Halo: Nightfall
16. The Boxtrolls
17. Divergent
18. Frozen
19. Space Jam
20. The Wizard of Oz

Top 10 Home Media Magazine rental chart for the week of 3/29/15:

1. Dumb and Dumber To
2. Big Hero 6
3. Annie
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
5. Birdman
6. Horrible Bosses 2
7. Nightcrawler
8. Beyond the Lights (new)
9. Top Five
10. Vice

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