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Blade II a Cut Above at Rental, Sales Counters; Rentals Dip

11 Sep, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

Consumer spending at the rental counter took its traditional post-holiday dip for the week ended Sept. 8, falling 12.9 percent as kids returned to school following the Labor Day holiday.

Rental spending fell to $168.3 million for the week, down 14.4 percent from the comparable week in 2001. Of that, DVD rentals accounted for 40 percent of the weekly take or $67.3 million, up 95.7 percent from the comparable week in 2001.

New releases were sparse at the rental counter, with only one debutante among the top 10 rentals for the week. New Line Home Entertainment's Blade II debuted in the No. 1 rental spot, with $12.1 million in its first five days of release.According to VideoScan First Alert data, Blade II also debuted as the No. 1 DVD seller and the No. 1 VHS seller.

Rental retailers readied their inventories for a big showing from the Wesley Snipes starrer, which earned $81.7 million at the box office.

According to a recent survey conducted by Video Store Magazine market research, independent retailers with more than 10,000 units in their inventories stocked an average of 23.5 combined VHS and DVD copies of Blade II for rent, with 37 percent of their rental inventory available on disc.

Meanwhile, HBO's The Sopranos: The Complete Third Season saw a post-holiday surge at rental. With the kids back to school and holiday festivities over, consumers had more time on their hands to delve into the five-volume set on VHS and four-volume set on DVD. While initially sold as a set, retailers are renting the volumes individually. Volume 1 found a spot on the top 50 rentals chart on VHS and DVD. The VHS version debuted at No. 43 in its second week of release, and the DVD version debuted at No. 44.

Year-to-date rental spending now stands at $6.2 billion, down 7.5 percent from the $6.7 billion during the comparable period in 2001.

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