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December 29 2005

Serenity lands 25th in rental chart taking $1.64m in first week. Anybody remember the DVD artwork petition? Although it does look like retailers under ordered Serenity: "(Retailer) conservatively ordered 15 copies of Universal's Serenity, then had to get another 60 sent overnight to meet demand.". UPDATE: VideoBusiness reports 12th position for rentals with $3.53m.

Do people rent many movies over the Christmas period?
Grounded - the business for last week was $62.51m for the top ten, so yep.

gossi - is this the behind the scenes stuff you were referring to on the thread about Rotten Tomatoes, or is there more coming?
Not in my family Grounded. I've spent most of my Cristmases in the UK and there's always been someone wanting to watch a Chrstmas Special, or a televised film, and someone else who wants to tape 'the other side'. That's without the pressure from the kids to watch their video/dvd presents.

ETA - just seen gossi's post on preview. Is $62.51 more than normal? It's hard to judge the significance of the raw number without comparison. Also, being #3 in sales as per this thread must have an adverse impact on rentals - Surely sales are especially high at this time of year and more important than rentals. OK, perhaps I'm letting Pollyanna out again perhaps but...
Well, just to clarify, it came 25th for the week (slightly behind Stealth. STEALTH! Sob).

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I have tea, I'm alive and the movie is still good. And Nathan ate less turnips this week.
Is it possible it came in so low because stores bought so few copies?

Seriously, every video store I went to only had about three copies that seemed permanently out of stock...
Very possibly, UnpluggedCrazy. I know in the case of the likes of Blockbuster, many people reported stores only had 12 copies and such (whereas with something like 40 Year Old Virgin they'd have about 200 copies).
Even if there weren't a lot of people renting things last week, there were 24 other films rented more frequently than "Serenity." :-( Well, true, it's not "holiday-themed," unless there was a national llama festival last week that I missed ;-), so maybe there will be different results in January. It doesn't seem that any decisions would be made this quickly anyway.

But the plus side might be this supply thing. Maybe retailers are saying, "Hmm, we should get this Serenity thing," and they'll buy more and have more on hand to rent next week. Is that how something like this might work, gossi?

Also, I really agree with gossi about the stupid cover art. Hello, how about a picture of a spaceship...the leads...the Operative...and so on. I just really have to say something about the Airbrushed River on the cover, aka Action Barbie. Hey, our River kicked a$$, but the girl on the DVD cover looks kind of, um, slutty-ish. My mom even asked me if that was Inara! lol...but also, uh-oh...

The good news is that I have tea, I'm alive and the movie is still good. And Nathan ate less turnips this week.

Yay tea! Yay less turnips! See, there's always a good side to things. ;-)
Maybe as there are so few copies available for rental people are simply buying the DVD instead, hence the high sales. People may want Serenity for keeps but films like stealth are only good for a one-off viewing.
Rent Stealth and burn it. Of course, I don't mean copy it silly - I mean actually BURN it. It's worth the fine, cosmic karma. Did I type that out loud?
I would think that being #3 (according to the Hollywood Reporter, link just a little below this) in sales is more important than the rental figures, besides it is true that most videos stores are not stocking many copies which slows down the possibility of renting. I heard over at Fireflyfans that Universal (someone at Universal) was thrilled with the DVD's first week, so if that is true then I'm happy.
Just to be pedantic, that would be "Nathan ate fewer turnips this week". Either way, it is good news.
When I went to pick up my (2nd) copy of Serenity last night, I asked the store how it was doing. The rentals were never in and they had sold out once already and they had bought lots. So, I am cautiously optimistic.
The person at Fireflyfans is quoting danregal's posts from here, as it happens, who was quoting somebody in Uni's marketing dept. It's not as clear cut as that, unfortunately, in the bigger picture.

Really, rentals demostrate the demand outside the fan base. The DVD sales figures for the first week include 'presales' - as in all the Amazon preorders from the fan base, which inflates the position. Which is fine. But over the coming weeks, when the fans have their copies, it falls to outside the fan base, which the rental figures mirror.

That said, the saving grace is the fact the demand for rentals hopefully outstripped the supply.
Itís a shame the BDM debuted this low. Surely this will have a negative impact on the chances of a second film.

The cover art is the films main downfall. If I (unaware of the BDM) was browsing the shelves I certainly wouldn't bother picking up Serenity. Although if the stories are true about rental stores being sold out, perhaps if the managers obtain more copies Serenity has a chance of moving up. It will be interesting to see what the situation is in a months time.

Lets hope the DVD sales can remain high for a good number of weeks (me wants to see a second film!)

Oh ... Gossi, I totally agree about the Stealth thing (burning the disks is a fab idea - folks shouldn't have to watch it under any circumstances!)
My local Blockbuster (outside of Pittsburgh) is only carrying 4 copies, none which have been in at all last week.

They really should have used 11th hours artwork to appeal to the more intelligent peruser.

I agree with embers. I think sales numbers probably mean more to Universal than rental numbers. I also agree that the low number of copies available for rent is a key factor in explaining the low rental ranking. If the cover was the cause then there wouldn't be so many reports of all available copies being rented out as has been the case on this site and others. I don't think the cover is turning people off as we initially feared it would. That being said, I still believe the cover is not a fair representation of the movie.

gossi, I agree. The sales/rental numbers need to sustain themselves long term beyond the fanbase in order to bode well for a sequel.
looking on the bright side, what copies are in stores are being rented it seems, and the DVD are selling like hot-cakes. To me, for now at least, the DVD is a success.
Rental's dont matter as much as sales, and the sales are looking pretty good. Not just Serenity but Firefly is selling quite good according to Amazon, which bodes well. They are (as of this post) STILL in the top three of sales for them.
And for Firefly we can't just fob the sales off as being browncoats, we've already got the DVD! So hopefully these are new converts!
Yep, I'd like to see this from the optimistic point of view. At least for the moment. If Serenity is selling bundles of copies, if the DVDs are all rented out, signifying there's greater demand than the numbers currently show, well, that's all good.

It'll be interesting to see what these numbers are like after the initial efforts wear off. If the Firefly DVDs, which are still selling are any proof, I think we don't have to worry much about shifting copies of the movie on DVD (also: the number of Firefly sets being sold confirm that the initial numbers are not all due to longtime browncoats and pre-orders).

The rentals are a completely different story. I'm hoping it'll pick up or at least sustain its current number of rentals for quite a few weeks, slowly raking in the cash. If not, well, then that's a pretty bad thing.
There is only one problem with rental figures this year the rental stores have taken a huge hit financially and do not have the resources to stock mutlipe copies like they have in past years. If it's not a blockbuster hit the then they just will not stock it. The overall figures really have no real value to the box office anymore, since now people can buy the movie and not have to worry about returning them or late fees imposed. So if Serenity made over 1.5 million in rental, I'm not cncerned cause they do not factor in the libraries that will be recieving copies as donations and those who purchased it as christmas presents. In the long run this will actually work out better for Serenity cause it means fewer used movies for sale at those rental stores. Unlike the 200 copies of 40 year old virgin which will be selling for $10 or less within a month, thus impacting sales of that video to the public and the bottom line. People will still have to buy a new copy of Serenity if they rented it and like it. Thus giving Serenity more staying power. However, I must say the cover sucks big time from a marketing point of view, as a person who use to work for a video store chain. The Serenity cover blends in way to much with surrounding movies and may get lost in the sea of movies for sale or rent. Why someone did not concider this when making the cover I have no idea. I have been to over a dozen rental stores and sales stores and unless you are looking for it you will go right past it or even if you are looking for it you will go right past it. Which I did a few times.

A tip to make Serenity more noticable, if you go into a store and see Serenity, take a few copies and place it elsewhere in the DVD section, perferably between lighter covers on the top two shelves. It is a fact your eyes tend to seek out that which is different. So putting a copy of Serenity surrounded by lighter color DVD cases will draw peoples eyes to that cover, in other words you made it pop. People will look at it cause it is out of place and stands out. Same for rental stores, take a copy and stick it on the shelf with the 200 copies of 40-year old virgin. It will make it stand out and people will pick it up.

Actually having low numbers in rentals, is preferable, from my experience if you have a few coopies of something that is constantly rented out the more people that want to check it out (the whole want what you cant have theroy). Then having a lot of copies of one thing that is always in stock after 2 weeks. When I worked for a rental chain we would purposely hold back certain films we did not have a lot of copies of to make them look more popular than they were. Then some people would come to the counter and ask about the film and we would be like "Your in luck we just got a copy of that back in."

[ edited by RavenU on 2005-12-29 16:09 ]
Serenity never played in our local theater and the 10 copies of the DVD available to rent here are snapped up continuously. It seems to me that, at least part of the market was lost due to lack of availability. That makes me sad. Have to deal with it, I suppose. I think in the end the total figures will turn out o.k. (maybe not great but o.k.)

[ edited by supersymetry on 2005-12-29 17:00 ]
There were only 5 copies at the blockbuster's near my house. There was a wall of Must Like Dogs though... I call outrage. Alert the petitioneers.
Maybe video stores will begin to pick up more copies now that they see how well they are renting?
I used to work at a store called Hollywood Video and when we had minimal copies, we would order more if we had enough requests. So thats still a possibility, and remeber its less than a week removed from christmas, people were spending money on gifts, not movie rentals, it should pick up eventually in that department, just hope the sales keeps it up, thats the important thing. If you happen to have the money, buy a friend the series or the movie who doesnt have it, if they like it, ask them to do the same. And so on.
Just to add, i think Universal sees the loyal following this show has, and much like Stargate at one time, i dont think they are ready to give up on its potential. Be it Mini Series which SciFi loves to do, TV movie, Big Screen Sequal or dare i say, a Second Season, i dont think this is the end regaurdless based on one sole fact, the longevity of firefly's stunning dvd sales. I'm an Optimist, What can i say.
Another potential issue I think is the fact that pirated copies of the DVD were available on-line a couple weeks before the DVD went on sale. My son-in-law had his copy (free) for two weeks before I got mine...this unfortunately happens with many movies but given the "techno-level" of many Serenity fans, I suspect this may have a greater impact on this film's DVD sales/rentals than it does on many "mainstream" movies.
One of my frinds, to my disgust, got a copy of Serenity on DVD for £1 three weeks before it's release!
You know, it's not Stealth that gets me. It's that we rented lower than Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. More people are going out of their way to head over to "Comedy" and rent that than are seeing Serenity under "New Releases" and choosing that.

According to that chart, however, we were 5th in new releases. How many new releases were there last Tuesday? Given the smaller numbers of Serenity DVDs stocked as compared to other new releases, isn't 5th place amongst new releases actually a good figure?

(On further edit: For example, the previous two weeks, whatever film was 5th amongst new releases for the week made less than Serenity did in its first week.)

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2005-12-29 18:52 ]
It's that we rented lower than Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

I think it's the European llama on the cover.....
If so few copies are in stores it is practically impossible for us to do much better in the rental market, I reckon we'll be able to keep figures constant and that stores will buy more copies to suit demand, so we should move up the list! Optimism, it's a great thing.
I really think this cover must be depressing rentals -- for all we know, the cover might also have been a negative factor in the stores' decision not to stock that many. (If I were an owner, doubt I would stock much of anything with that cover). Sales are, thank goodness, a different matter at least initially. People who buy them are usually in some sense pre-sold on the movie. They've heard or read about it. Rentals are often complete impulse items and this cover, while not as bad "in person" as it looked on line, is still pretty much guaranteed to short-circuit casual adult interest.
If there are fewer copies of Serenity than other films to be rented - and waiting lists of people wanting to rent it - I fail to see why it's a bad sign that Serenity is 25th on the chart. If there are copies of, say, 40 Year Old Virgin everywhere, and relatively few copies of Serenity (also being promoted less vigorously), well, duh. It seems obvious that better promoted and more abundantly available DVDs will be more frequently rented. Renters are lemmings that way.

What interests me is the high sales of Firefly at Amazon. It's selling like gangbusters over there *three years* after the show was pulled from the air. As gossi says, the success of Serenity DVD sales at Amazon during the first week of release can be attributed, at least in part, to pre-orders by fans. But how to explain Firefly rising up to #3 on Amazon's best sellers chart? I can't believe it's just because fans are buying extra copies. My suspicion is that non-fans have been buying and/or hearing about Serenity and have ginned up a related interest in Firefly. I'm choosing to be happy about this and not bummed about the 25th place, damnit.

That said, the Serenity DVD cover *is* wretched.
Also, phlebotinin, I suspect that the other interesting aspect of the Amazon sales is that the demographic of who buys from Amazon likely is the demographic of younger audiences who spend lots of money. Thats a target range people tend to pay attention to.
The rental figures look good to me, but then again, I wasn't expecting it to be in the top 10 or anything. Being at 25 seems good for an underpromoted, little Sci Fi pic.
The biggest reason that it debuted this low in my opinion is because the video stores didn't have that many copies up for rental. The local video store I visited yesterday had 2.5 times more Skeleton Key DVD's than Serenity. As soon I saw that, I shuddered.
I don't think it's as bad as we think, but i think us browncoats should do whatever we can to still get people to buy or rent it. When i was at the mall the other day, at FYE, I took all the Serenitys and conveniently placed them on the shelf right near the door ;). A browncoats work is never done...
25th place is atrocious for a movie that debuted at no 2 at the US box office charts. I think we're still seeing the effects of Universal's marketing decisions during the summer and early autumn.

Hopefully video store owners will release that there is a demand for it and order more and it will move up the charts in the weeks to come.
The weird thing about that Video Business article that's been added to this item is this: " and smaller video specialists said disc sales led by Universal Studios Home Entertainmentís The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Warner Home Videoís March of the Penguins lit up the holiday season for DVD. Best Buy, Wal-Mart and other major retailers are expected to give details on holiday sales next week."

They focus on Virgin and Penguins, even though for the bulk of the first week of Serenity's release it -- and not Virgin or Penguins -- was number one at the first of the referenced sites, that being Amazon?

Even when this film performs, no one pays any attention to it.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2005-12-29 23:14 ]
theonetruebix - I'm guessing they're a week behind the times.
The date to watch for rentals is New Year's Eve. I work at a Blockbuster, and that is our biggest night. We don't have a lot of copies of Serenity, about 20, but they are always checked out. And there is a bigger waiting list than for some of the releases on Monday.
faeryflower, how does blockbuster decide to order more copies? Is it automated by your computer inventory or does a manager look it over and wait for complaints? Is 20 copies the average number of copies for a non-hit movie? Just curious. Also, has Netflix had an impact on overall rentals?
Of all the 100 items in my netflix queue only Serenity says that there is a short delay while all others say available now for shipping. This bodes well, methinks, but Wedding Crashers and 40 yr old Virgin would never be in my queue anyway...
I'm surprised to hear how many stores have so few rental copies, when here in small town New Mexico where the interest level probably isn't extremely high, we've got about 5 shelves worth of rentals at our biggest store (Hastings.) We're talking about 40-50 copies for rent. They moved the first week too, haven't checked this week.

They got about 80 copies for sale, and the numbers left are dwindling. It was prominently displayed on an endcap on the first rack in the video dept, 5 shelves worth, and it went from 4 deep to 1 or 2 deep this week. I need to go check out our Blockbuster sometime...
Gossi, why do you think the numbers are so different between imdb and VB?
Ha! Just checked They were selling Firefly boxset for just $19.86. Now they're out of stock!
I wonder why the numbers are so different. Here's hoping VideoBusiness knows what they're talking about!
The Videobusiness link is something of a relief. I also noticed a curious factor. Everything above Serenity is either new or dropping off - except for Cinderella Man - which has increased 1740% from the previous week. I wonder what that's about. Underordering followed by lots more copies being made available?
I think Cinderella Man is benefitting from increased Oscar buzz.
I wonder why the numbers are so different. Here's hoping VideoBusiness knows what they're talking about!

Well, IMDB is notorious for wrong information. Video Business is Variety-related, so I would tend to suspect they are more reliable.
I know this is a rental rather than a 'sales' thread - but the Hollywood reporter thread is about to fall off the page. Also, apologies if someone else has already mentioned this but the email from Serenity_Leader of the browncoats official site / reporting the closure of the site includes this:

Serenity was the #1 DVD upon its release! This was a huge success that would not have happened without the support and dedication of The Browncoats. On behalf or Universal, I would like to thank you all for everything you have done to promote Serenity.

I'm assuming this means overall and not just at Amazon as we already knew.
Hi all,

I just wanted to add my 2c on the rental figures. I really do think that rental stores are under ordering the DVD. At my local Blockbuster, they only had 5 copies of the BDM (this is my first time actually writing that) compared with at least (it seemed to me) 30 copies of every other new release including 'my date with drew' and 'murderball'. If I hadn't been looking for it, I would have missed the display entirely and this store is in a fairly busy part of town.
Anyway, my point is that those figures can only go up when rental stores come to their senses and start ordering more copies. After all, they can only make so much on renting the same 5 copies over and over.

P.S. first post (sorry it's so long)

ETA:of course all the copies were out

[ edited by sugarfairy on 2005-12-30 15:13 ]
Ah, the VB figures are much, much better. If 12th position is deflated because demand for the DVD can't be met, than that's a better starting point than the gloomy IMDB numbers.

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