Today marks the debut of the Daily Variety/Video Store Video Rental Report.The new chart ranks the top 25 video releases, based on the rental revenue they generate at video specialty stores in the U.S. The sample is greater than 400 stores and is skewed to accurately represent the diversity of vid speciality stores. Unlike any other video charts published, the DV/VS chart offers a comparison of vid rental revenue to box office performance. It’s worth noting, for example, that rental revenues for Warner’s “White Sands” (No. 24) far exceeded the film’s box office take, after 82 days in vid release. Another important feature of the charts is the “Total units pre-booked” column, which is an indication of how much revenue flows back to the studios. To roughly calculate the studio’s gross revenue, multiply the pre-book figure by the wholesale unit price of a cassette. For those unfamiliar with homevid lingo, the “pre-book” figure represents the number of orders a studio received for a title by order-close deadline, which is usually several weeks before the title is available in stores. (The pre-book number is not the definitive sales figure for a title, as the trade frequently continues to order an incremental number of cassettes through street date. In the case of low-priced titles, unsold tapes are sometimes returned, so the final net sales figure for low-priced titles may be lower than the pre-book figure.) Daily Variety’s decision to join forces with Video Store to publish this chart reflects a fundamental change in the vid biz. The industry invented itself in the 1980s, and during that time Daily Variety focused on breaking events and experimentation in the video business. Today, the vid market is more settled–the basic patterns and protocols of the biz are established. While there’s still news and evolution, many of those developments today are driven by research. By studying release cycles and earning patterns, vid exex today are able to refine their marketing and strategic business plans. With those factors in mind, Daily Variety believes it is offering the state of the art in video research. Video Store magazine, based in Santa Ana, has been a leader in video market research and is supplying chart data–some of it exclusively–to Daily Variety. Beginning early next year, Daily Variety will publish weekly video sell-through charts, based on data provided by Soundscan/Videoscan–the only video sales chart that will be based solely on point-of-sale cash register records.
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