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DreamWorks Dominates March Rentals

17 Apr, 2003 By: Melinda Saccone

DreamWorks Home Entertainment, which is distributed by Universal Studios Home Video, dominated at the rental counter in March, owning three of the top four rentals for the month, including the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

The mini-major's new releases generated an impressive 18.6 percent of monthly transactions alone — almost equal to the supplier market share runner-up leviathan Warner Home Entertainment (18.9 percent), which also distributes New Line and HBO product, and third-place March sweeps finisher Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (18.4 percent).

DreamWorks' monthly grab at the rental counter was the muscle behind Universal's first-place finish in the supplier market share sweepstakes for the month. Collectively, the two studios generated 27.6 percent of monthly transactions.

DreamWorks' top-renting releases for the month were a diverse lot spanning three different genres. Two of the three studio releases in the top five were also big successes at the box office, earning more than $100 million in theaters prior to their video debut.

Leading for the studio for the month was Road to Perdition. The drama, which earned $104.1 million in theaters prior to its video debut, had six Oscar nods and won the gold for cinematography. Road to Perdition was priced for rental on VHS.

The Ring, another DreamWorks release, was positioned to appeal to the teen market and was priced at sellthrough on disc and cassette. The horror flick grossed $128.6 million in theaters prior to its release on video.

Rounding out the March hits for DreamWorks was The Tuxedo (No. 4), the Jackie Chan action-comedy that appealed to many consumers as a respite from news of the war in Iraq.

Warner Home Video placed second in the market share sweepstakes, with 18.9 percent of monthly transactions. Leading for Warner was HBO's box office sleeper My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Rounding out the top five suppliers for the month were Columbia TriStar (No. 3, 18.4 percent), Buena Vista Home Entertainment (No. 4, 12.1 percent) and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (No. 5, 11.2 percent).

The comedy genre maintained its first-place spot, earning 27.2 percent of March rental transactions. Dramas were a close second, with 26.5 percent. Also scoring attention were thrillers (No. 3, 13.3 percent), actioners (No. 4, 10.5 percent) and horror (No. 5, 8.4 percent).

Consumer rental spending for the five-week period ended March 31 was $900.6 million, down 11 percent from the $1.01 billion spent during the comparable five-week period in 2002.

On average, weekly rentals in March registered $180.1 million, down 9.9 percent from the $199.8 million weekly average in February, and down 15.2 percent from January weekly averages of $212.4 million.

Meanwhile, disc rentals were dominant at the rental counter, accounting for 52.1 percent of monthly transactions. Consumers spent $469.6 million on disc rentals in March, up 86.9 percent from the comparable period in 2002.

Although March's crop of new releases carried a bigger box office punch than last year's offerings, more were available at sellthrough, not only on disc, but on cassette. Nine of the top 25 rentals for the month were priced to own on cassette. By comparison, only three of the top 25 March rentals in 2002 were priced to own on VHS.

At the end of the first 13 weeks of the year, consumers had spent $2.55 billion on combined disc and cassette rentals, up 2.5 percent from the $2.49 billion spent during the comparable period in 2002.

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