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Rental Spending Rises for First Time in Four Weeks

21 Mar, 2002 By: Judith McCourt

New releases jump-started weekly rental spending, pushing it above the comparable week in 2001 for the first time in four weeks. Meanwhile at the checkout counter, Warner Home Video's Heist and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Joy Ride battled for the top DVD sales slot for the week ending March 17. On the VHS side, dreams came true for Buena Vista Home Entertainment with Cinderella II continuing its reign.

Combined rental spending was $224.9 million for the week, up 14.8 percent from the previous week and up 2 percent from the comparable week in 2001. An increase in DVD rental revenue was just enough to offset a VHS deficit. DVD spending for the week tallied $54 million, up 113.4 percent compared to the $25.3 million shelled out in the same week last year. Meanwhile, cassette rental spending dipped to $170.9 million, off 12.3 percent from the $195 million consumers spent renting cassettes in same period of 2001.

Six new releases debuted on the top 50 rentals chart for the week. Warner's Heist turned in the best performance of the rental newcomers, grossing $12.58 million to unseat DreamWorks Home Entertainment's A.I. Artificial Intelligence (No. 4, $9.9 million) from the top spot. With Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito starring, Heist was positioned for a strong video performance despite a skimpy $23.5 million at the box office and retailers stocked deep on the thriller. Blockbuster, on average, stocked more than 75 units of the title for rent, with about 40 percent of the units in the DVD format.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment's new releases Mexico City and Newport South, which debuted March 12, were conspicuously absent from many Blockbuster store shelves, possibly due to distribution glitches, which cost the titles a spot on the top rentals' chart.

Heading into the last two weeks of the first quarter, consumers have spent $2.09 billion on rentals, up 3.6 percent from the $2.01 billion spent at this point in 2001.

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