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<I>Lord</I> Rules at Rental and Sellthrough; Rental Spending Drops

15 Aug, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring dominated at both the rental and sales counters for the week ended Aug. 11.

The New Line Home Entertainment hit took top honors on both the DVD and VHS sales charts, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert data.

Rings followed its mega box office run ($313.3 million) with a smashing performance at the rental counter, earning $17.2 million in combined rental revenue for the week.

Its rental prowess in its first five days of release, however, was not enough to oust Warner Home Video's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone from its first-place reign as the highest-grossing debut ever. Potter grossed $19.1 million in its first week of release. First-week sales for both Potter and Rings were about equal, according to First Alert data, with Potter posting a higher percentage of VHS sales than Rings, no doubt due to its higher kid appeal.

The Lord of the Rings earned the No. 12 spot on the all-time top rental debuts chart and is the sixth-highest-grossing debut so far this year.

U.S. consumer spending at the rental counter rose for the third consecutive week compared to the previous week, but still lagged behind the comparable week last year. For the week ended Aug. 11, consumers spent $177.4 million on combined VHS and DVD rentals -- a 1.6 percent increase over the previous week but down 17.3 percent from the same week last year.

DVD rentals continued to gain, with consumers doling out $71 million renting the format for the week, pushing the format's year-to-date total up 151.9 percent over the previous year, to $1.7 billion.

Despite DVD's rental climb, year-to-date rental spending in aggregate remained below 2001 tallies at $5.48 billion -- down 6.6 percent from the $5.87 billion spent at this point last year.

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