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DVD sales: Too much of a good thing?

DVD sales: Too much of a good thing?

Powered by Fox's Fantastic Four, weekend box office receipts finally reversed a 19-week slump, taking in more ticket revenue than the same weekend last year. But considering almost three-quarters of Americans prefer to watch movies at home--and the fact that the studios front-load their heavy hitters toward the beginning of the summer season--it's hard to imagine the upward trend of theatrical revenue being anything more than a brief blip. Previously, Hollywood had been looking at ever-burgeoning DVD sales as the silver lining of the darkening cinematic storm clouds, but now it appears the mighty silver disc may be on the wane as well, with megahits like The Incredibles and Shrek 2 selling below expectations. Experts are divided as to the reasons, with at least one entertainment analyst blaming a glut of titles on the market. Furthermore, flat-fee DVD-by-mail programs from Netflix and Blockbuster make renting easier than ever before. And while BitTorrent and its peer-to-peer file-trading brethren are certainly a convenient target for the MPAA, it's hard to imagine that the availability of cheap PC DVD burners isn't a bigger threat to the industry in the short term. Just hang out at the checkout line of a Staples, Office Depot, CompUSA, or Best Buy: consumers are snapping up those 50-disc cakeboxes of blank DVDs for $20 a pop, and you can bet they're being used for more than making hard drive backups.