Bond best in week's rentals

A strong theatrical opening is not enough for the James Bond movie franchise.

And “American Beauty” showed off its strong legs on video.

The video version of “The World Is Not Enough” opened strong last week, with nearly $30 million estimated to have been spent on the latest 007 adventure on video. That isn’t far off the $35 million spent on tickets during the movie’s theatrical debut last fall.

The third episode to feature Pierce Brosnan was the top-renting video last week with $7.4 million spent on the rental of 2.25 million copies, according to the VSDA VidTrac data-tracking service.

An additional 1 million copies were purchased by consumers, according to industry sources. It is the first time that a Bond movie has been priced to be purchased on VHS on its initial release to stores. Nearly 4 million VHS copies were shipped to retailers, with less than 1 million of those being purchased by videostores to use as rental titles.

About one-third of the 1 million copies purchased by consumers were the special edition DVD version of the movie. MGM shipped about 1.6 million copies of the DVD edition to dealers. Special edition DVD versions of the James Bond movies have proved popular as collector’s items. The studio has simultaneously released new special edition DVD versions of “Dr. No,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” “The Man With the Golden Gun,” The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker.”

Meanwhile, “American Beauty” had the smallest percentage decline for a top-ranked title from its first to second week of any title all year, dropping less than 7% from $6.8 million in rental revenue during its first week to $6.33 million last week, according to VSDA VidTrac.

Rental revenue for top titles typically drops about 20% and can be as high as 30% to 40%. Prior to “American Beauty,” the smallest declines this year had been the 8.4% for “The Sixth Sense” and the 11% for “The Bone Collector.”

“It’s just as we expected. There was very little dropoff” said Kelley Avery, head of DreamWorks domestic video division.

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