<I>Tower</I> Power: <I>Lord of the Rings</I> Sequel Sets New Rental Record8 Sep, 2003 By: Melinda Saccone
New Line Home Entertainment got a double dose of sequel power last week, as The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers outscored its predecessor both in sales and at the rental counter, setting a new record in first-week rental revenue.
Combined first-week video sales of the fantasy blockbuster were 27.7 percent higher than first-week sales of LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert data.
Meanwhile, consumers spent an estimated $22.9 million renting Two Towers its first week in stores, 32.9 percent more than they did on the first installment in the trilogy -- and a new high for a rental debut, according to Video Store Magazine market research.
The soaring household penetration rate of DVD and the greater propensity among DVD fans to buy and rent software were certainly factors in Two Towers' success.
First-week DVD sales of Two Towers surpassed total first-week combined (DVD and VHS) sales of Fellowship by 22 percent, according to First Alert data.
Ninety-five percent of units sold of Two Towers in its debut week were on disc, compared to 85 percent for Fellowship. DVD sales were up 43.3 percent, while cassette sales were off 60.2 percent.
Sales demand, however, didn't hurt Two Towers at the rental counter. Video Store Magazine market research estimates Two Towers is the top-shipping video release of all time, with nearly 2.5 million units entering the rental pipeline -- 21.2 percent more than Fellowship.
Seventy percent of rental units were on disc, compared to less than 50 percent for Fellowship.
The saturation of units in rental stores translated into lots of dollars, enough to make Two Towers the highest-grossing rental debut ever. Fellowship, by contrast, generated an estimated $17.22 million in rental revenue its first week out, according to Video Store Magazine market research.