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HIVE EXCLUSIVE: Expected Second-Quarter Rental Slump Materializes

27 Apr, 2001 By: Melinda Saccone

The anticipated second-quarter rental slowdown has begun to materialize as consumer spending dropped below the comparable period last year for the second consecutive week. Spending on VHS and DVD rentals for theweek ended April 22 totaled $168.4 million, down 10.9% from the same week in 2000.

The first quarter of this year yielded good product and explosive DVD growth, which got the year off to a good start, but product flow in thesecond quarter looks weaker. Both Blockbuster Inc. and Movie Gallery have alluded to this weaker product in quarterly reports.

As of April 22, there has yet to be a single title released this month that reached the $100 million mark at the box office. April 2000 releases collectively grossed close to $1 billion in theatrical receipts before their video release. This year, projected April releases took in less than half of that — earning a meager $408 million in theaters. While the box office strength of projected May releases is up 18.20rom last year, it not likely enough to compensate for the April decline.

Adding to the downturn is the absence of such blockbusters as Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s The Sixth Sense, which earned $293.5 at the box office and debuted on video March 28, and Twentieth Century Fox HomeEntertainment’s Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace, which was thetop box office earner of 1999 ($431.1 million) and debuted on video April 4.

By comparison, Warner Home Video’s Space Cowboys, the biggest box office title released on video in April 2001, made $90.5 milliontheatrically — less than a quarter the take of The Phantom Menace.

Despite the second-quarter slowdown, rentals are still ahead for the year at $2.9 billion — up 14.8% from the $2.5 billion spent throughthe same week in 2000.

New releases dominated VideoScan’s DVD First Alert sellers chart with Space Cowboys at No. 1. Meanwhile, 102 Dalmatians topped the VHS sellers chart for the third consecutive week.

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