'Charlotte' DVD an Easter treat


Paramount Home Entertainment has scored big with "Charlotte's Web," the live-action movie of the classic children's book by E.B. White that grossed $82.5 million in North American theaters.

Consumers bought 3.5 million DVDs in the first week after the title's April 3 release, making it the biggest live-action family film since Buena Vista Home Entertainment's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in April 2006.

Just as the Walt Disney Co. did last year, Paramount marketers positioned the film as an ideal Easter gift. They also timed the DVD release to coincide with the Tuesday before Easter.

"We felt confident that families would embrace this terrific DVD, but the demand has surpassed our expectations," said Kelley Avery, president of worldwide home entertainment at Paramount Pictures.

Easter is the second-biggest retail traffic period behind Christmas. The National Retail Federation projects Easter 2007 spending to come in at a record $14.4 billion, up from $12.6 billion last year. Average spending per person is projected at $135.07, up 11% from the previous year.

"Easter is gaining more relevance as a retail holiday," said Phil Rist, vp strategy at BIGresearch, a consumer market intelligence firm that conducted the "NRF 2007 Easter Consumer Intentions and Action Survey."

The Easter holiday also is credited with keeping Warner Home Video's "Happy Feet" at the top of the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart for the week ending April 8. "Charlotte's Web" debuted at No. 2, but the difference between the two titles was less than 6% -- and sources said "Charlotte's Web" was No. 1 at Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer of DVDs.

Two other kid-themed DVDs that have been out for a while -- Buena Vista Home Entertainment's "Peter Pan" and DreamWorks' "Flushed Away," which Paramount distributed -- climbed back up the chart during Easter week. "Peter Pan," in its fifth week in stores, rose a notch to No. 7, while "Flushed Away," available for seven weeks, shot up from No. 18 to No. 10.