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Rental Spending Stays Up Despite <I>Lord</I>-ly Theatrical Competition

31 Dec, 2003 By: Melinda Saccone

Heading into the final week of 2003, consumers spent $9.16 billion on video rentals, up 5.9 percent from the comparable period in 2002. DVD rentals are up a whopping 65.7 percent for the year, offsetting the equally whopping 64 percent decline in VHS cassette rentals.

For the week ended Dec. 21, consumer rental spending gained momentum despite the fact that many consumers flocked to their local theaters to catch the third and final installment of New Line Home Entertainment's “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, The Return of the King.

King drew in $124.1 million in its debut week in domestic theaters as an alluring alternative to some of the highest-renting demographic. King broke box office records worldwide, taking in $246.1 million in total box office receipts in its first five days in theaters.

Spending at the rental counter got a bump for the week ended Dec. 21, thanks to rentals to entertain all those kids home for the school break. Consumers doled out $141.6 million in rentals for the week ended Dec. 21, up 7 percent from the previous week. Disc rentals registered $97.7 million, or 69 percent of the weekly tally. By comparison, in the same week in 2002 DVD rental accounted for 48 percent of the weekly take.

Three new releases debuted in the top five rentals' chart for the week. Leading the newbies was 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was the only new release that was priced for rental on VHS. The sci-fi fantasy starring Sean Connery earned $15.8 million in its first five days on rental shelves. Placing second was Universal Studios Home Video's Seabiscuit. The $120.1 million box office blockbuster earned $13.8 million in its first five days on rental shelves.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Freaky Friday debuted at No. 5 for the week, earning $8.06 million in rental revenue its first five days out.

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