'X-Men' kick-starts DVD fourth quarter

5:00 AM PST 10/05/2006 by Thomas K. Arnold, AP

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The fourth quarter reportedly got off to a bang this week, with both high-profile DVD releases that streeted Tuesday -- 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's "X-Men: The Last Stand" and Buena Vista Home Entertainment's platinum edition of "The Little Mermaid" -- exceeding sales expectations.

Industry sources peg combined consumer spending on the titles to be more than $80 million, making Tuesday the biggest fourth-quarter opening day in the history of home video.

" 'X-Men' is outperforming our projections," Fox senior vp marketing communications Steve Feldstein said. "We had high hopes, and it's even outperforming those. This is a terrific start for the quarter. These two titles created a perfect demographic storm at retail."

Industry sources put first-day sales of "X-Men" at 2.6 million units and "Mermaid" at 1.6 million units. Those figures include sales to rental dealers and account for about 30% of inventory, significantly higher than normal.

"X-Men" is the biggest October DVD debut ever, and "Mermaid" is the biggest animated DVD debut for October.

"It's an encouraging sign that we're opening the fourth quarter with one new title and one classic doing solid numbers," said industry analyst Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research.

The strong start to the fourth quarter comes in the wake of reports that the DVD business is picking up again after a lengthy slump. The year-over-year consumer spending gap, which stood at 3.7% at the midyear point, narrowed to 1.2% by the end of the third quarter, and the latest projections from Adams Media Research indicate consumer spending for the year could finish in positive territory.
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