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Winter Olympics Anything But Gold for Rental

22 Feb, 2002 By: Melinda Saccone

As usual the Olympics are anything but gold for U.S. consumer rental spending.

For the week ending Feb. 17, consumer spending on VHS and DVD rentals dropped to its lowest level so far this year. For the first time, rental spending dipped below spending in the comparable week in 2001, thanks in large part to viewer competition from the 2002 Winter Olympics. The addition of extreme sports is skewing audiences towards younger viewers, which has traditionally been video's stronghold.

Consumers spent $151.1 million at the rental counter for the week ending Feb. 17 -- down 6.4 percent from the previous week and down 13.6 percent from the comparable period in 2001.

With a light slate of new releases for the week, only three debutantes found a spot on the top 50 rentals chart.

Warner Home Video's Hearts in Atlantis was the only new release in the top 10, earning the gold. Based on the Stephen King novel, Hearts in Atlantis garnered $9.37 million in its first five days of release for a No. 1 finish. Prior to its video debut, the Anthony Hopkins drama earned $24.2 million at the box office.

The only other two new releases to earn a spot on the top renters chart were Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's The Legend of the Red Dragon (No. 23, $920,000) and New Line Home Entertainment's The Prime Gig (No. 25(tie), $850,000).

Meanwhile, Moulin Rouge picked up the pace at the rental counter, fueled by more than five Academy nominations, including one for best picture and one for best actress (Nicole Kidman). Consumer demand increased an average of 22 percent from the previous week, boosting Moulin Rouge's weekly rental take to $2.84 million. After two months on rental shelves, Moulin Rouge has earned $65.5 million in rental revenue, 14.5 percent more than the $57.2 million it earned at the box office.

So far this year, consumers have spent $1.3 billion at the rental counter. DVD rentals continue to show growth as consumers have spent $301.1 million renting the format so far this year. DVD rentals now account for 23.1 percent of total spending compared to 11.9 percent during the comparable period in 2001.

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