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It Was a Chilly November at the Rental Counter

12 Dec, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

A November video release slate packed with sizzling product wasn't enough to heat up rental spending for the month. November rental spending fell by more than 20 percent compared to the same period last year, making it the 10th consecutive month rental spending has lagged 2001.

Consumers spent $622.8 million on video rentals for the month, up 17.1 percent from the previous four-week period but still 22.2 percent below the $800.6 million consumers spent in the comparable four-week period of 2001.

Consumers' transition to DVD and buying rather than renting that sellthrough-priced product has sent rental revenue into a more significant drop that began in May and has gathered speed.

Even DVD rental growth is losing steam: Gains measured on a monthly basis have slowed to double digits from the triple-digit gains in the first eight months of the year. In the four-week period ended Nov. 24, consumers spent $274.2 million renting DVDs, up 71.1 percent from the comparable period last year. Disc rentals accounted for 44 percent of the monthly rental pie.

DVD's gain, however, has not made up for losses in cassette rentals.

Consumer spending on VHS rentals in November registered $348.6 million compared to $640.4 million during the comparable four-week period last year.

VHS rentals accounted for 56 percent of all November rental transactions, down from more than 75 percent of the aggregate rental tally in the first quarter of 2002.

Heading into the final stretch of 2002, year-to-date rental spending stands at $7.83 billion, down 11.6 percent from the $8.87 billion spent in the same time frame last year.

November video debutantes included some of the highest-grossing theatrical releases this year.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's Spider-Man, released Nov. 1, swung the No. 1 rental spot for the month. Spidey is the No. 1 theatrical hit so far this year and the third-highest-grossing theatrical release of all time, with $403.7 million at the box office. The hit earned $53.9 million in rental revenue in just 23 days of release, leading the studio to a market share victory for the month, with 28 percent of all November rental transactions. Spider-Man accounted for nearly half of Columbia TriStar's total rentals in November, but the studio had two other releases among the top 10 rentals for the month: Mr. Deeds (No. 3) and Enough (No. 7).

Warner Home Video, which distributes New Line and HBO product, placed second in the market share standings, earning 22.3 percent of November rental transactions. The studio had the most titles on the top 25 rentals chart for the month (seven), with three placing in the top 10. Leading for the studio was Insomnia, which earned a fifth-place berth.

Paramount Home Entertainment claimed 11.2 percent of monthly transactions, with its $118 million box office hit The Sum of All Fears, released on video Oct. 29, the No. 2 rental for November.

Rounding out the top five suppliers for the month were Buena Vista Home Entertainment (No. 4, 9.6 percent of monthly transactions) and MGM Home Entertainment (No. 5, 9 percent).

Actioners ruled at the rental counter in November, taking top honors in the market share sweepstakes for the first time this year, thanks to the strong performances of Spider-Man and The Sum of All Fears. The genre grabbed 36.4 percent of all November rental transactions.

Dramas placed second in overall market share, grabbing 22.8 percent of rental transactions, with Warner's Insomnia leading the way.

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