Will invest $4.56 mil to launch digital videodisc rental service

TOKYO — Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Monday they would invest 595.5 million yen ($4.56 million) to launch a digital videodisc rental service with Japan’s largest video rental chain, Culture Convenience Club.

The first DVD rentals would be in two Culture Convenience stores Dec. 19 and then expand nationwide to the chain’s 940 stores by spring, the companies said in a statement.

The companies plan to have 200 to 300 titles available for rental by next spring, they said. Many of the titles will come from Warner Home Video products for which the store has acquired rental rights.

Also taking part in the venture is Gaga Communications Inc. The company acquired the rights to 49 pictures from Orion, and the DVD titles will be among those in the new rental program. Gaga will not distribute the DVD movies, but some of the titles it acquired include “Platoon,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Terminator.”

Gaga said the deal helps them acquire a foothold in the emerging DVD market in Japan.

Under the terms of the agreement, Toshiba and Matsushita would own 19.9% stakes each in the new DVD rental branch, with a division of Culture Convenience Club holding the rest.

The two electronics companies will accelerate their production of DVD titles and work with the rental chain in distribution, they said.

By the end of this year, 500 to 600 DVD titles are expected on the market in Japan.

Culture Convenience Club, with 10 million members, is also a partner in the DirecTV Japan satellite platform.

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