Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wal-Mart Won't Quit Brokeback

The Huffington Post was gracious enough to print my comments today:

Standing up to protests from a prominent Christian organization, Wal-Mart is not only carrying the DVD of Brokeback Mountain in its over 3,600 American stores, it is featuring ads for the film in the front of its stores. 138 million Americans pass through the front of these stores every week.

According to the L.A. Times, the American Family Association accuses Wal-Mart of pushing a gay agenda and is encouraging its purported 3 million members to boycott the store. So why is Wal-Mart risking alienating part of its red-state base?

Remember, Wal-Mart is a business committed to delivering products its customers want at prices they can afford. BoxOfficeMojo reports Brokeback has grossed $82 million domestically. King Kong has grossed $218 million domestically. King Kong moved 6 million DVD units in its first week of release. We can infer that Brokeback will sell around 2.4 million DVD units initially. Wal-Mart is 40-45% of the domestic retail DVD market, so Wal-Mart will probably sell at a minimum 1 million copies of the Brokeback DVD.

Brokeback Mountain is a movie the public clearly wants to see. Wal-Mart will offer it to them at the lowest price possible. In fact Wal-Mart will offer it at such a low price, many video rental stores will buy their copies from there. Imagine the howls of protest from liberal activists had Wal-Mart decided not to carry the film, even though these activists claim not to shop there. Will the progressive community applaud Wal-Mart's smart business decision to carry and promote the film?

Probably not. Brokeback's director was outsourced from Taiwan.