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Midrange Hits Quick to Video Score Well at Rental

10 Feb, 2005 By: Melinda Saccone

Tighter theatrical windows on midrange box office hits played a significant role in buoying January consumer rental spending.

Consumers spent $930 million on transactional rentals for the five-week period ended Jan. 30, posting a 1.6 percent gain over the comparable period in 2004. Midtier theatrical releases were the engine.

The box office strength of January releases was up 30.2 percent from the strength of 2004 counterparts, but it was the rental appeal of titles earning less than $75 million theatrically that helped push spending into the black. This group generated two-thirds of the revenue in the top 25 January rentals. While these releases may not have been a huge draw theatrically, they were a big draw at the cheaper video counter.

Titles earning between $50 million to $75 million at the box office were quick to hit video. The average 2004 release took 138 days to debut on disc, while titles generating between $50 million and $75 million theatrically averaged 132 days. However, for mid-range theatrical titles debuting in January 2005, that average dropped to 121 days.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's The Forgotten and Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Friday Night Lights both fared well at the rental counter in January after failing to break the $75 million theatrical threshold — and both hit video quickly. The Forgotten ($66.6 million box office) took 116 days from its theatrical debut to land on disc, and Friday Night Lights ($61.2 million box office) debuted on disc just 102 days after its theatrical debut.

Sony took an early rental market share lead in the year, grabbing 16.5 percent of January transactions and generated more than $150 million in rental revenue. The studio, which had four releases debut in the top 25 in January, had an additional seven releases in the top 50 that helped secure its lead.

Fox and Warner were a dead heat in market share. Both studios were just shy of 16 percent of monthly transactions. Fox had five releases break rank in the top 25 for the month — more than any other studio — while Warner had the top renting title in January (Troy, $32 million rental revenue).

DreamWorks Home Entertainment, which didn't have a single release debut in January, managed an impressive fourth place finish on the strength of its fourth-quarter releases.

Universal rounded out the top five market share leaders for the month, with 9.8 percent of monthly rental transactions.

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