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Rental Spending Down for Week Ended Dec. 3, But December Holds Gifts

7 Dec, 2001 By: Melinda Saccone

A weak slate of new releases coupled with unseasonably warm weather everywhere but on the West Coast bolstered the historic post-holiday decline in consumer spending for the week ending Dec. 3.

Consumers spent $199.6 million in combined DVD and VHS rentals for the week, down 13.7 percent from the previous week and down 16.4 percent from the $239 million spent during the comparable week in 2000.

Artisan Home Entertainment's Made (No. 10) was the only new release among the top 10 rentals for the week, earning $2.33 million in its first week in stores.

But there may be reason for optimism going forward. The box office strength of the December release slate is strong, and this could translate into healthy rentals for the remainder of the month, if consumers choose to spend their dollars at the rental counter rather than the sales counter in the coming weeks.

Consumer rental spending for the entire year is expected to be slightly above the total for 2000, even though last year included an extra week in the tracking cycle. Historically, December rentals have accounted for nearly 40 percent of fourth-quarter rentals.

Four titles slated for release in December have grossed more than $100 million at the box office, with combined theatrical receipts totaling $690.6 million, 44 percent more than last year's north-of-$100 million trio. However, all four titles are scheduled to debut at a sellthrough price on both VHS and DVD, which could weaken their rental strength if consumers opt to buy rather than rent. By comparison only one of last year's trio was priced for sellthrough. However, there are several other strong rental-priced releases on their way as well.

New Line Home Entertainment's Rush Hour 2 (Dec. 18) leads this year's pack, with $221.6 million in theatrical receipts. Buena Vista Home Entertainment is distributing two of the four releases with Pearl Harbor (Dec. 4, $187.2 million box office) and The Princess Diaries (Dec. 18, $104.7 million box office). On Dec. 11, Universal Studios Home Video is scheduled to debut Jurassic Park III ($177.1 million box office).

Other rental-priced releases scheduled to debut in December are Buena Vista's Scary Movie 2 (Dec. 18, $71.3 million box office), Paramount Home Entertainment's The Score (Dec. 11, $70.8 million box office), Fox's Moulin Rouge (Dec. 18, $56.6 million box office) and DreamWorks Home Entertainment's Evolution (Dec. 26, $38.3 million box office).

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