There is a tough year-on-year comparison, not least because of The Greatest Showman, but home entertainment buyers are generally optimistic about the likely impact of Q2 arrivals including Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman and The Lego Movie 2, writes Christopher Barrett.
HMV Visual – New Release and Chart Manager Andy Anderson says he expects Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Bumblebee, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part to be the biggest selling titles on DVD and Blu-ray in Q2.
Among the “second-tier” release he expects to perform well on disc are movies The Favourite, Green Book, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Stan & Ollie and TV shows Still Game – Series 9 and This Time With Alan Partridge.
Despite a number of promising titles this Q2, Anderson says overall the quarter does not appear as strong as the same period last year: “If you do a Top 5 consisting of titles from the two Q2s, I think only Mary Poppins Returns is in it, alongside four films from 2018; The Greatest Showman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and Black Panther. Father’s Day looks a bit weaker than last year where we had Darkest Hour and Den of Thieves up against this year’s Vice and Stan & Ollie.”
Sainsbury’s Film & TV Buyer Andrew Dean says Q2 is always the most eclectic quarter: “We have the big Christmas theatrical releases, including Mary Poppins Returns, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, and the awards-friendly titles.”
Asda Video Buying Manager Russell Clark says that after a Q1 filled with grocer-friendly titles, he is pleased to see the flow of quality releases continue into Q2: “There are some great releases throughout the quarter, throw Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into the mix and things are set up for another great quarter. Outside of the blockbusters, we think Cold Pursuit suits our demographic and Mortal Engines could convert well. I’m also expecting big things with Game of Thrones drafting — we have given it our full backing with great store setup.”
Despite his optimism, Clark is under no illusion that sales will match last year’s: “The biggest release in Q2 this year is Mary Poppins Returns versus Star Wars: The Last Jedi last year, for which volume will be down 45% across box office and home entertainment. Then there is the anomaly that is The Greatest Showman — I can’t see anything in the plan that will compare to that both in the quarter and the full year.”
Morrisons Head of Home Entertainment David Catton says that while the physical video market will struggle to avoid a year-on-year decline, titles he expects to perform well at the grocer include Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Virgin Media Store and Virgin Movies Senior Manager Adrian Zak says superhero films tend to prove popular, across EST and TVOD, with its customers and so he has high hopers for Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Aquaman.
Says Zak, “We had strong results on the original LEGO Movie, A Dog’s Purpose and the previous How to Train Your Dragon movies so The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, A Dog’s Way Home and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World all have strong potential. Holmes & Watson is a perfect VOD title — high awareness factor, popular genre and stars, and an underwhelming box office.”
He says that while there are no adult-orientated blockbuster films comparable to last year’s Fifty Shades finale, there is no shortage of family titles: “There is some great counter-programming too, with If Beale Street Could Talk, Vice and The Frontrunner, three of my favourite films so far this year. I’m hoping Stan & Ollie will replicates its cinema success too. It is a great movie and one the whole family can watch.”
Catton says he is also expecting Stan & Ollie to perform well: “It will definitely appeal to the Morrisons customer-base, which is generally slightly older than at other grocers, so that could be one of the highlights of Q2. The Favourite is a great film but I am not sure it is a massive grocery title.”
Among the titles Anderson says stand to benefit most from awards recognition is Green Book: “Green Book is great but last year we had The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
The award-winning titles Dean feels are particularly aligned to the grocer’s customer-base are The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots and Stan and Ollie.
Dean says the April release schedule looks particularly promising, which bodes well for the Easter school holiday: “It is looking so strong this year, with Mary Poppins Returns and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse across those two weeks, Aquaman the week before and Ralph Breaks the Internet the week before that.
“We are missing Star Wars, which has been the staple of the last three Aprils, but the mix of the titles we have to replace them should make for a more balanced April. Second quarter sales will be below what we did the last couple of years but this year we have four big titles to work through and there are some good back-up titles.”
Anderson says Easter will be all about the home entertainment return of the P. L. Travers-created nanny: “Mary Poppins Returns is the stand-out title but you have Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald out next week and The Grinch, their sales will run through into Easter. Over Easter itself you really only have Mary Poppins Returns but I do think sales of that will be huge.”
Says Zak, “With Mary Poppins Returns and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I think Easter’s looking incredibly strong.”[/private]