Art house movies are getting greater exposure in supermarket video departments because some prominent titles are available on a shared transaction fee basis.
For example, Miramax titles from Buena Vista Home Video, Burbank, Calif., are distributed by Supercomm, Dallas, and Rentrak Corp., Portland, Ore. Movies like "Il Postino" and "Mighty Aphrodite" are under the Miramax banner. With the shared transaction fee programs, retailers pay a low acquisition fee and share the revenues instead of buying the tapes outright for $65 to $70 each.
As a result, retailers can afford to take a chance in movie genres that have not done well for them in the past.
Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis, will strongly support the art house titles available from Supercomm and carry them in all corporate stores, said Clifford Feiock, video coordinator. "I don't have to spend as much to bring them in. Otherwise, I'd be very selective," he said.
Art house titles "haven't been very strong renters for us in the past," said Jeff Olson, video specialist at The Copps Corp., Stevens Point, Wis. "They appeal to a select group of customers."
But with Supercomm, the retailer will bring in more copies. "It only makes sense to do it," he said.
Retailers can be more profitable bringing in these titles through revenue sharing rather than buying them outright, said Des Walsh, vice president and general manager of Supercomm.
For example, a major supermarket chain with average demographics saw 22 turns per copy on an older title, "Jefferson in Paris," he said. Some other titles have gone as high as 30 turns. For a retailer with average rental rates, these numbers will result in net profits if the tapes were acquired through shared revenue, but not if the tapes were purchased outright, he said.
"This represents a source of incremental gross profit dollars on an annual basis. Also, these titles are clearly not cannibalizing other new releases because they appeal to a fairly limited and specific audience," he said.
But for some retailers, nothing can overcome the lack of consumer demand for art house titles.
"In our area of the country, 'Il Postino' is not going to be a good renter, no matter how much they advertise it," said Randy Weddington, video specialist at Harp's Food Stores, Springdale, Ark. " 'Mighty Aphrodite' isn't either. This is not Woody Allen's part of the country," he said.