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Rental <I>Soldiers</I> On Despite Continuing Year-Over-Year Slump

29 Aug, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

New releases breathed new life into video rentals for the week ended Aug. 25, but year-to-date spending continued in the red.

Consumer spending on combined VHS and DVD rentals registered $197.6 million for the week -- up 9.2 percent from the previous week, but down 10.7 percent from the comparable period in 2001.

Paramount Home Entertainment's We Were Soldiers debuted at No. 1 on the rental chart for the week. The Mel Gibson starrer also took top honors at the DVD sales counter, while Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Return to Never Land debuted as the top VHS seller for the week, according to VideoScan First Alert data.

We Were Soldiers earned $12.27 million in rental revenue in its first five days of release, knocking New Line Home Entertainment's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring out of its first-place rule for the first time since its debut Aug. 6.

Nine new releases debuted among the top 50 rentals for the week, and three were in the top 10. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's The Sweetest Thing debuted at No. 3, earning $8.5 million, while Artisan Home Entertainment's National Lampoon's Van Wilder and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Joe Somebody tied for the No. 7 spot, both earning $5.91 million for the week.

Meanwhile, overall rental spending continues to remain below 2001 totals despite the rapid escalation of DVD. So far this year consumers have spent $5.86 billion at the rental counter, down 7.2 percent from the $6.3 billion spent in 2001.

Year-to-date spending on DVD rentals now stands at $1.88 billion, up 148.3 percent from the $756 million spent during the comparable period in 2001.

VHS rental spending registers $3.98 billion, down 28.3 percent from the $5.56 billion spent in 2001. The format still accounts for 68 percent of total year-to-date spending.

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