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March 12 2006

Serenity takes #1 on DVD rentals for 2nd week in the UK, climbing from 2nd, trumping Oscar winners Wallace and Gromit and Crash (!). Additionally it's taken 2nd for it's 2nd week of DVD Retail sales according to the official chart company. Uh, well done Joss - these are really excellent results!

I was under the impression that Serenity sold well in the US. Didn't it debut at number two in the sales chart.
In the US rental chart, Serenity debuted 25th.
Great news, surprising considering what limited exposure Firefly has had over here. As well as the superior box-art I don't imagine the "film of the year" sticker has hurt much.
The UK artwork is still incredibly terrible. "Look at us! We're Power Rangers without the armor!" Still, I'm ecstatic it's selling well.
Definitely, Ghost Spike. Firefly's viewers here on Sci-Fi were about 100k I believe, in contrast to about 4 million on FOX in the US. Hardcore online fan wise, it's in the thousands who follow it here.

Other strange things: the Amazon sales rank in the UK hasn't been great (9th currently I belive). But it's selling in actual shops. In other words, the internet fans preordered it, but that isn't the major cause of sales.

It's just a completely different market here in the UK, but it's done very well. Of course, the lesson to learn from that is real easy: if the marketing is done right, it really works. All credits to whichever people marketed the DVD here, they did a wonderful job (I've no idea who they were, I kept completely out of it).

Other chart wise, early charts for this week ending today place it at 2nd - which if true, is another fantastic result.

The fact Serenity is outselling an Oscar winner (and a UK film at that) here is, put simply, amazing. Those involved should be grinning.
Sorry Gossi. I thought you meant that Serenity did badly in the sales chart rather than the rental chart.
No need to apologise, derf.

The Dark Shape, don't knock the Power Rangers movie. It's hypnotic.
...hey, I was 10-years-old when the Power Rangers movie came out. I'm not knocking it -- hell, I still find it entertaining.

But if you defend Turbo, there might be fisticuffs.
I was 10, too. Bliss.

Just going to update heading - the official BVA 2nd week retail data just came out and it's #2 for week 2. Which is, like, fantastic - it's not showing the drop seen in the US on DVD. BVA's website has crashed, typically, as I've added the link.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-03-13 02:36 ]
The two shops I went into today, Blockbuster and Barnes & Noble, both had Serenity at number 2 with Wallace & Grommit at number 1. W & G is bound to be a great favourite in the UK so I'm not surprised it was at the top. I love both films so it is great to see them up there together.

The copies of Serenity I've seen from B & N and Amazon had a sticker saying it was voted best film of the year on Film 2005. That must help pull in new viewers when it's up on the best sellers rack and has such a good recommendation on show.
Whee! I'm very glad Serenity is doing this good in the UK charts. I'm almost certain the artwork is helping - it's leagues better (though not perfect) than the US artwork which I'm sure has hurt rentals. Possibly not sales, because there's not much people - I'd think - buying the DVD without knowing anything about the movie. But lots of people go into a rental store to pick up a cool movie for the evening without any set idea of what they're going to be renting. And a good cover (and a 'film of the year'-sticker) will certainly help boost those figures.

Still, though, the UK was also the country Serenity did best on theatrical release, so I'm not sure how big a part of these figures are still riding on the attention it got at the theatre and how much is actually down to the DVD promotion. Still, this is very good. I'm doing a happy dance.
It's really impressive it's held 2nd in the 2nd week - it's got very stiff competition (BAFTA award winning The Constant Gardener just came out!). The US dropped to 7th for the 2nd week I think.

Fact is, the fans will buy the DVD so the artwork doesn't matter to them. Non-fans probably didn't even notice the Serenity US DVD, as it has nothing which stands out. Okay, so the Serenity UK DVD has River looking like a power ranger - but apparently people are looking at it, probably giggling, and reading the back.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-03-13 02:49 ]
technovamp said:
"The two shops I went into today, Blockbuster and Barnes & Noble"

There's a "Barnes & Noble" in the UK? Didn't know that, whereabouts?

The Dark Shape said:
"But if you defend Turbo, there might be fisticuffs."

Hah! That's where I stopped watching, it just lost it for me. The original movie is one of those things I've had in my hand for 3.99 before the voice in my head tells me to put it down and back away.

If they ever come out those first 3/4 box-sets will find a way into my collection.

Anyway, back to a more respectable topic, didn't Serenity kick-ass.

[ edited by Ghost Spike on 2006-03-13 02:52 ]
I once got extremely drunk and watched the Power Rangers movie (which, by the way, can lead to many drinking games). It was, in fact, last year. Some people who know me might realise that was the time I emailed a certain actor.. And then was very embarrased the next day. Remember: don't drink and go online.
I pretty much predicted this (to myself) -- it seems to me that cover art wasn't really a problem for sales, because if you're sold enough to plop down $20.00 U.S. or the equivalent, offputting art probably won't stop you. On the other hand, DVD rentals are probably one of the ultimate impulse purchases. I'm sure the great press/better ticket sales in the U.K. are a help, but I'm also fairly sure that the sort of semi-cool, if misleading, stylishness of the UK art is far more likely to encourage a casual look and create new viewers.
The UK artwork also has "From the creator of Buffy and Angel" proudly plastered all over it, which disappeared entirely from the US campaign. "Buffy" had about 4m viewers on the BBC in it's hayday (an audience actually comparable to the entire WB/UPN audience for the US...), so that's bound to draw in more people.

Really, a combination of cover art which stands out slightly, a "From the creator of something which a good number of people here like" and "Film of the year" sticker are probably all helping.
I've just completely reformatted the story, as I've just been told now the DVD rental figures are out, they show Serenity has climbed to #1 on Rental!
I'd comment, but a swear word would be involved. Let's just say this: in' A!

Just for info (I'm not being smug... much) - Serenity US Rental debuted at 25, and dropped further the 2nd week.

Serenity climbing it's 2nd week on DVD rental suggests actual word of mouth (2nd week had no TV advertising, I believe).

Great stuff.
For the past few weeks, Firefly has been in the top 5 at HMV, here in Saint John. It's been nice... although Serenity has usually been about 17 or 18.
Well done, UK! Yay us! :-)

Now, if the international sales and rentals are strong, and if Slither is a big hit -- hmmm, who knows! ;-)
I was in a Barnes & Noble in NJ last week, where the Serenity DVDs were in the #13 slot of the Top Selling DVDs section. I went in a couple of days later, and they were all sold out.

And gossi, I think I've seen you mention a disturbing number of embarrassing drinking escapades recently. If you completely pickle your brain cells, you will be missed.

I may have to improve my aim much more quickly than I anticipated.
And yet there are still folks who will dismiss this by saying "Well this has been a slow couple of weeks for releases." And there's a guy on Outpost Gallifrey who even is saying Joss isn't a very well known or mainstream writer.
I don't care what anyone says, if Gossi is willing to go so far as to admit something is good news...then it must be very good news indeed -- unless he's hitting the bottle right now, I mean. :)

Now, I wonder what the effect this will be on worldwide marketing...Perhaps an eventual repackaging for the U.S. market...? And what about the countries where it was never released theatrically? (I may have missed some news in there.)
This is further proof that Universal dropped the ball with the US DVD. I don't think it is a coincidence that the DVD has done significantly better in Australia and the UK than it did in the US.
Ghost Spike asked:

"There's a "Barnes & Noble" in the UK? Didn't know that, whereabouts?"

In Swindon

Some credit should go to Joss for undertaking promotional interviews on the most bizarre seletion of tv and radio shows that I could imagine.
This is very good news. One of the reasons why Serenity is not selling "well" on is perhaps that a lot of internet-fans have bought the DVD from Australia (which is also region 2 compatible as I've been told) or Germany (where they can get the "Australian" two-disc version with a very pretty cover). Does anyone know the German sales figures?
And yet there are still folks who will dismiss this by saying "Well this has been a slow couple of weeks for releases."

Quite simply, they are talking shit if they say this. It's up against Wallace and Gromit (2nd week of release) - but that's a really mainstream, huge UK Oscar winning (publicity! press!) kids film! And Crash. The Oscar 'film of the year'. And The Constant Gardener. If you beat a critically loved race relations drama and an oscar kids film in it's home terrority... You know, you're doing kinda well. Plus the rental position has risen week to week.

So, put calmly: we win at life.

Some credit should go to Joss for undertaking promotional interviews on the most bizarre seletion of tv and radio shows that I could imagine.

Sunday T4 hip rad audience (Ahem) in the sci-fi section, MTV UK.. Fairly standard. Then we have things like The Last Word. Which, it appears, may have been great placing - I can just imagine all these people sat at home as he saying "Excuse me?!" to the old biggot anti-woman person, picking up the DVD of Serenity a few days later.
Good point Celebithil - the "Australian" DVD is indeed both region 4 and region 2. The exclusive tin is still in the top 5 at ezydvd over a month after release (for a while the tin was at #1 with the standard dvd at #2) and the special slip case is still in the top 10 at jbhifi .
Huzzah for dear old Blighty. Or is 'We rock !' the currently accepted idiom ? I've tried chanting U ooh K, U ooh K but a) it sounds a bit daft, b) I got some really strange looks in the Co-op and c) being openly patriotic is a bit embarrassing.

BTW, I realise these things are kept kind of purposefully vague but does anyone know how this translates into actual numbers sold and/or money made ?
In WHS on Saturday with my 6yr old girl, queuing to pay for DVD Monthly (which has a Serenity Features DVD on this issue).

Eagle eyed daughter says loudly "Oh Wallace & Gromit - But oooh look Mummy there's Serenity!!!" I of course encouraged her to repeat it even louder so the whole queue could hear

Yep, start 'em young.
The B roll feature on that DVD Monthly magazine is very good. I think that's the only exclusive feature on it.
BTW, I realise these things are kept kind of purposefully vague but does anyone know how this translates into actual numbers sold and/or money made ?

Nope, not outside of the studio accountants and execs.

That said, you can compare: in the US, the exact rental figures are released. The #1 US rental at the moment took $9.22m. Serenity is #1 in the UK, which is about a quarter of the population size (tiny island, many people). Serenity was also #2 the first week.

Optimistically, Serenity took around $2.3m in rentals from the UK for the 2nd week, and probably about a million the first week.

Purely speculation, though.
Yay! Number 1! Colour me amazed! As with the theatrical release, the UK and Australia are bringing in good news. Now, why both the theatrical release (which was a small succes in both countries, I'd say) and the DVD release (which is a bigger succes, I'd say) are both doing well there and not so much elsewhere is a small mystery. But I'm sure it has to do with better promotion, better artwork, more mediacoverage and whatnot. But still, even that has to start somewhere.
I used to work for management in Blockbuster UK, and to let you in on a lil secret, when a film debuts on rental they make up what position it goes in, so they can stick it on the chart straightaway(beacuse thats where most of the rental customer traffic heads). Its very possible that Serenity was No1 the very first weekend, but they didnt anticipate it.
Erm - seems to have slipped to #5 on the retail, according to that link. But still #1 on rental, which is most impressive.

I have to admit, I am one of those UK fans who bought from overseas (I have bother the US R1 - because it was first - and the Aussie R4 tin - because it has most features). I won't be buying R2 unless they come up with a later one with extra, exlusive content - like maybe the World Premiere - i.e. Edinburgh - Q&A...
Erm - seems to have slipped to #5 on the retail, according to that link. But still #1 on rental, which is most impressive.

Hah, yes. Somehow the claim to have pushed the figures up to next Saturday. Curious.

Still, even if it is 5th, that's still not bad at all.
Just an update - HMV UK's new charts are out, and puts Serenity 3rd. It still held it's own against about 5 new releases this week, though. HMV's charts are reproduced by and Virgin.

Serenity is also 5th on HMV Australias charts.
These UK numbers're very encouraging. The Firefly boxed set still being in the Top 5 at many outlets, also incredibly cool. I noticed that at a Canadian HMV last week too. It was surprising to see it with wall space, three or four units across, all out in the open where everyone could see it more easily than the copies that're filed away under "F" (though it has great company there).

Maybe Universal will correct the North American box art mistake when we get a 2-disc Special Edition over here...whenever that'll be.
Somehow the claim to have pushed the figures up to next Saturday. Curious.

Oh, yes - a little detail I had missed!

I agree, #5 would still be not bad news. Particularly taking into account it is up to next Saturday(!)

Maybe Universal will correct the North American box art mistake when we get a 2-disc Special Edition over here...whenever that'll be.

Hello, is this thing on? Is anybody listening? I hope they read that, as it's a good point. Stick a 'special edition' out with 3 discs (hey, they already have 2 discs done), with an ultra cool cover, with good review quotes on the back.. Maybe "BBC Film of the year award". And make money from non-browncoats, too.


Well, here I am.
"BBC Film of the Year Award" might go over well in the UK, but I doubt many North Americans would be effected all that much by it. Yes, 3-disc release...would be far better than the 1-disc we're limited to. And of course folks in Australia and the UK with region-free players could import it if they still want more after the 2-disc set they got. Me, I'm not about to go out and buy yet another DVD player (our house has three--ridiculous) for region-free playing, so I'm stuck with that one Region 1 release for now.

A simple, polite fan campaign directed at Universal Home Entertainment regarding a special edition of Serenity, think that'd have much of an effect in speeding up a possible release? If we got most of the fandom involved?

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