Follow us on

DVD/VHS Creates Second Shot For Box Office Losers

March 11th, 2003

When I first came to The Numbers website, it was to follow up and track the box office dollars a particular movie was bringing in. More to the point, as an admitted Trekkie, I was praying at my alter of Rodenburry in hopes that the latest installment of the Trek Franchise, Star Trek: Nemesis was doing well enough in theaters to warrant yet another sequel. Unfortunately this was not the case and having only made a measly $43,119,879 to date, my prayers for a Star Trek: The Search for Data follow up was dashed. I knew that in today’s production houses, if a film doesn’t net around a $100,000,000 in theaters…then that’s pretty much it for any subsequent incarnations…At least…that is how it used to be.

Let me throw out a few random box office numbers for you.

Austin PowersUS Gross $53,883,989
Jeepers Creepers US Gross $37,903,067
Shanghai NoonUS Gross $56,932,305
FridayUS Gross $27,391,242
007: License To KillUS Gross $34,667,015

Now, other then modest box office numbers…what do all of these movies share in common? These movies all range the gambit of genera’s from comedy, to horror, to Urban Comedy to Action Adventure. They all were released from various movie houses and they all were released at different times. However, the most important thing these films share in common, is the fact that despite their sorry showings in the theaters, each have spawned sequels…and they aren’t alone.

It seems that despite poor box office numbers, certain films can enjoy a second wind thanks to strong DVD/VHS sales and rental numbers. Often, strong after market sales can double or even triple a movie's profit margin. A trend enjoyed not just by a few lucky box office weaklings, but also enjoyed by those certain movies that already were box office powerhouses, sometimes making more in opening weekend home video sales and rentals than they did in opening weekend at the theaters. A very recent example of this being X-Men , which brought in over $157 million domestically. Subsequent video sales netted over $60 million - more then opening weekend in the theaters and enough to even generate a DVD re-release early this year ahead of the sequel.

More importantly, high volume video rentals and sales for the weaker movies can create the fan base it couldn’t gather in theaters, sometimes snowballing into block-busting sequels. Here are the numbers for 2 of the larger-grossing sequels of the films listed above:

007: Die Another DayUS Gross $160,728,203
Austin Powers in GoldmemberUS Gross $213,079,163

With figures like those, its no wonder studios are giving a second a look to flicks that flicker out in theaters, but burn bright on home media. Pat Moran, an analyst at Alexander and Associates in New York City states "word of mouth has a stronger presence than it does at the box office because videos are out longer than films are, typically… If people praise a movie they saw three months ago on video, their friends can still go out and rent it."

With videos and DVDs continuingly dropping in price, and home theaters a growing trend, Moran goes on to say, "Video and DVD rentals and sales are a deciding factor when it comes to making sequels."

Assuming all factors remain the same, perhaps this Trekkie will see his Star Trek franchise revisited after all.

George W. Horta III


Filed under: Star Trek: Nemesis