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'Potter' First Week Rentals Are Spellacious

4 Jun, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

Warner Home Video's much touted video debut of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone swept the nation last week, seizing consumers at retail and rental.

While Harry Potter is Warner's first big family title, the studio has successfully launched the first in what Warner claims is a major new franchise for the studio.

At the rental counter, the boy wizard and his magical gang broke rental records last week to become the highest-grossing debut ever.

The adaptation based on the J.K. Rowlings series earned an astounding $19.1 million in combined DVD and VHS rental revenue in its first five days of release. Potter was the hands down winner at the rental counter for the week ending June 2, earning 53.5 percent more rental revenue than its next closest competitor, Paramount Home Entertainment's Vanilla Sky (No. 2, $12.46 million).

Sellthrough pricing did not deter retailers from stocking Harry Potter deep. According to Video Store Magazine market research, retailers with more than 10,000 units in their rental inventories stocked on average 29 copies of Potter for rent, with more than 33 percent of their inventory in the DVD format.

Besides Harry Potter, it was a light week for new releases as many studios shied away from going toe to toe with the wizard. The only other new release to break rank in the top 25 rentals' chart for the week was Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's Slackers (No. 16). The $5.2 million box office comedy earned $1.59 million at the rental counter in its first five days of release.

Harry Potter's success at the rental counter wasn't enough to pump consumer spending above the previous week. Consumers spent $145.5 million at the rental counter for the week ending June 2 – down 6.5 percent from the previous week and down 1.9 percent from the comparable week in 2001.

So far this year consumers have spent $3.87 billion at the rental counter, up a slight 0.9 percent from the $3.84 billion spent at this time last year.

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