DVD Sales Join CD Sales’Heading South

Has the DVD market finally reached the saturation point? One of the most successful consumer products in modern history, home video sales fell the first quarter of 2006 4.3% and video rentals sagged 4.4%, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter.

That’s a stat that’s being obscured somewhat by the big recent debut of Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe DVD which sold 4 million units on Tuesday, its first day in the store. Brokeback Mountain sold 1.4 million its first day, a strong number for a drama.

In addition to softening demand (and perhaps because of it) the numbers of DVD releases in the first quarter of 2006 were down 14% from the same period last year. This is the first year the new release schedule has tightened since the DVD format was introduced in spring 1997.

Meanwhile, the latest (and, we’re sure, not the last) iteration of King Kong had a big week last week in DVD sales and rentals. The Peter Jackson film sold 6.5 million units the week ending April 2nd. Memoirs of a Geisha pulled up a distant second with about 1.25 million units.

For all of Kong’s romantic ‘lan, Geisha maybe the perfect date-night rental. With a reported $5.9 million in rental revenues, the film trailed Kong rentals by just half-a-million dollars. The leader the week before, Chicken Little dropped to third place.