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Rental Spending Freefall

3 Oct, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

U.S. consumer spending at the rental counter continued to fall sharply the final week of September, dropping nearly one-third from the same week last year.

Consumers spent $141.2 million at the rental counter for the week ended Sept. 29, down 13.3 percent from the previous week and down 30.6 percent from the comparable week in 2001.

So far this year, consumers have spent $6.7 billion on combined VHS and DVD rentals, down 9 percent from the comparable period in 2001.

DVD growth still can't make up for the VHS slide. Year-to-date spending on disc rentals posted a 134.9 percent increase from the comparable nine-month period last year, registering $2.2 billion, while cassette rentals fell 30.2 percent from last year, to $4.5 billion.

Monsters, Inc. ruled at the sales and rental counters for the week ended Sept. 29. According to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert data, Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Monsters, Inc. was the No. 1 VHS and DVD seller for the week. Warner Home Video's Murder by Numbers pleaded No. 2 on DVD and No. 6 on VHS in its first week in stores.

At the rental counter, Monsters, Inc. was consumers' rental of choice for the second consecutive week, despite a 30 percent decline in its rental take from its debut week. Monsters earned an additional $8.85 million in combined VHS and DVD rental revenue, bringing its cumulative take to $21.4 million in just two weeks of release.

Murder by Numbers led the newcomers, debuting at No. 4 with $7.43 million in its first five days at the rental counter. Prior to its video debut, the thriller earned a moderate $31.9 million in theaters.

The only other new release to break into the top 10 for the week was Universal Studios Home Video's Big Fat Liar. The comedy debuted at No. 9, earning $3.87 million in its first five days on rental shelves. Big Fat Liar earned $47.8 million in theaters.

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