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Winter Games Chill February Rentals

14 Mar, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

February rental spending ended on a down note, as consumer demand at the rental counter was curtailed by the Winter Olympics, which turned in the highest viewer ratings for any Winter Olympic games ever. Despite the continued growth in DVD rentals it was not enough to offset the slide in VHS cassette rentals.

Consumers spent $663.9 million on combined VHS and DVD rentals for the four-week period ending Feb. 24-down 4 percent from the comparable period last year, which was not in competition with Olympic gold.

Consumer spending on DVD rentals continued to grow with total spending on the format for the month registering in at $153.1 million. DVD rentals were up 90.5 percent from the comparable period last year and accounted for 23.1 percent of total February rental spending.

VHS rental spending continued its decline over last year's comparable totals. In February, consumers spent $510.8 million on VHS rentals-down 16.5 percent over the comparable four-week period in 2001. While consumer expenditure on VHS rentals continues to decline, the VHS format still accounts for nearly 77 percent of all rentals.

Meanwhile, in the market share sweepstakes, Universal Studios Home Entertainment took a landslide victory for a first- place finish. Universal, which also distributes DreamWorks Home Entertainment's product took top honors for the second consecutive month. In February, Universal releases accounted for one-fourth of all rental transactions- 10 percent more than the runner up, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Universal owned three of the top 10 renters for the month including the top rental, American Pie 2. Other Universal titles to break rank in the top 10 were Captain Corelli's Mandolin (No. 5) and The Fast and the Furious (No. 8) which continued to show strong rental legs after two months of release.

Coming in a distant second was 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with a 14.5 percent market share. Fox had three releases break rank on the top 25 renters' chart with two placing in the top 10. Leading the studio was the $56.6 million box office actioner Kiss of the Dragon, which was the No. 3 rental for the month. Other releases to make the list were Don't Say a Word (No. 9) and Moulin Rouge (No. 11) which enjoyed a renewed interest at the rental counter after getting more than five Academy nominations including best picture.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment placed a close third in the market share sweepstakes with 14 percent of February rental transactions. Leading Buena Vista releases was Atlantis: The Lost Empire (No. 4) which was priced for sellthrough. The only other Buena Vista release to break rank on the top 25 rentals' chart for the month was The Princess Diaries (No. 20). While The Princess Diaries was priced for sellthrough, competition from consumers' buying the title did not hinder its rental performance. Released on Dec. 18, The Princess Diaries continued to show strength at the rental counter after nearly three months of release.

Rounding out the top five suppliers was Warner Home Entertainment (No. 4, 13.4 percent) and Paramount Home Entertainment (No. 5, 12.8 percent).

Comedies continued their reign at the rental counter accounting for more than one-third of all February rental transactions. Comedies accounted for 37.3 percent of all titles rented in February with American Pie 2 leading the laugh factory.

Dramas placed second with 17.7 percent of all February rentals. Warner Home Entertainment's Hearts in Atlantis was the top renting drama for the month.

Rounding out the top five genres for the month were actioners (No. 3, 15.7 percent), animated releases (No.4, 6.9 percent) and thrillers (No. 5, 6.8 percent).

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