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Batman' sets video rental record

By DAVE McNARY UPI Business Writer

LOS ANGELES -- The home video version of the smash hit 'Batman' has set a record for rentals, breaking the mark set last year by 'E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial,' an entertainment industry firm said Wednesday.

Over the two-week period ending Dec. 4, 'Batman' was rented 9.8 million times, surpassing the two-week record set in 1988 by 'E.T.' by more than 3 million, according to consultants Alexander and Associates of New York.

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Robert Alexander, president of the company, said 'Batman's' performance stems from both the film's popularity and its wide availability in the rental market.

'It's simply an incredibly popular film,' he said. 'People apparently feel that for $2, they're guaranteed an evening of good entertainment. And the perception is that the video is everywhere.'

Warner Home Video released the film to the home video market on Nov. 15 and reportedly duplicated about 11 million copies. A spokesman refused to comment on any of the numbers.

For the first three weeks of its release, 'Batman' totaled nearly 11.7 million rentals, Alexander said.

'Batman,' which grossed more than $250 million in domestic box office receipts following its release in June, may eventually top the all-time video rental record of 101 million, set by the action film 'Top Gun,' Alexander said.

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'Crocodile Dundee' is second on the list of total video rentals at 64.7 million, followed by 'Dirty Dancing' at 59 million and 'Platoon' at 48 million.

Alexander noted that the outstanding rental performance of low-priced videos, such as 'Top Gun' and 'Crocodile Dundee,' shows that the rental and 'sell-through' markets can co-exist without cannibalizing one another.

'Batman's' performance lifted the video rental industry to its best week ever for the week ending Dec. 4 with 94.8 million rentals. Weekly rentals hit 91.8 million in late November of 1988 following the home video release of 'E.T.' and reached 93.5 million twice during this summer, Alexander said.

Alexander estimated that the 'Batman' video, which has a list price of $24.98, has sold probably between 4 million and 5 million copies so far. There are about 1.3 million copies on the rental shelves.

'E.T.' holds the record for home video sales, estimated at more than 15 million. 'I don't think that 'Batman' will sell that many, but it may come close,' Alexander said.

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