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HIVE EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH: October Rentals Fall From 2000 Despite Strong Box Office Punch

9 Nov, 2001 By: Melinda Saccone

Despite a strong slate of new releases, October spending kicked off the fourth quarter on a down note with combined consumer spending on DVD and VHS rentals registering at $728.1 million. Spending decreased 2.1% from the comparable period in 2000 and was down 5.8% from the three-year average of $773.6 million.

While consumer spending on DVD rentals increased 120.7% over last year to $142.4 million, it wasn't enough to completely offset the 13.8% decrease in VHS rentals for the month. At month's end, DVD rentals accounted for 19.6% of all rental transactions, up from 8.7% in the comparable period last year. Consumers spent $585.7 million renting VHS cassettes in the four-week period ending Oct. 29 — down from $679.3 million in 2000.

The top 25 rentals for October had a cumulative box office take of $1.4 billion, up 15.5% from their 2000 counterparts, which grabbed $1.2 billion at the box office. The strength of this year's slate did not translate into equal gains at the rental counter.Retailers purchased on average nearly 3% fewer copies of box office blockbusters than they did of their 2000 counterparts. While each copy turned an average of 11.1 times, outpacing last year's lot by a margin of 1.2 to 1, it wasn't enough to bring October spending above last year.

Meanwhile, studios were neck and neck at the rental counter in market share, with Warner Home Video and Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment vying for top honors. The studios garnered 20.3% each of all October rental transactions.

Columbia TriStar had five releases in the top 25 rentals for October, with two placing in the top 10: A Knight's Tale (No. 3) and Memento (No. 7).

Warner, which includes New Line and HBO, had six titles break rank on the top 25 rentals chart, with three titles making the top 10: New Line's Blow (No. 8) and Warner's Driven (No. 9) and Exit Wounds (No. 10).

Meanwhile, Universal Studios Home Video placed third in the market share sweepstakes with 14.5% of the October action. The studio released the top renting title of the month with The Mummy Returns. The sequel to the studio's The Mummy grossed an impressive $202 million at the box office before its video debut Oct. 2. The Mummy Returns held the top rental spot for three consecutive weeks. In just 26 days of release, The Mummy Returns had grossed nearly $40 million in rental revenue. It debuted with $12.2 million in its first five days of release placing it at No. 8 in opening week revenues for the year.

Comedies remained consumers' genre of choice for October. Comedies have ruled the rental counter for most of the year, ceding the top spot only occasionally to dramas. The genre cornered 35.4% of all October transactions, outpacing the closest genre (dramas) by a margin of 2.5 to 1. Eleven ribticklers pierced the top 25 rental chart for the month. Leading the pack was MGM Home Entertainment's Heartbreakers at No. 5.Dramas placed second in the market share sweepstakes with 14.5% of all October rentals and grabbed three spots on the chart.

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