'State of Play' dominates during slow week

Universal film takes No. 1 rental, sale spots

It's the lull before the storm of theatrical tentpoles starts hitting home video in time for the fourth quarter.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment's "State of Play," a theatrical underperformer ($37 million) with an all-star cast headed by Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, topped the national sales and rental charts its first week in stores, overcoming weak competition.

The thriller, about the investigation into the murder of a Congressman's mistress, debuted at No. 1 on both the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart and Home Media Magazine's rental chart for the week ending Sept. 6.

Universal Studios also snagged the No. 2 spot on the sales chart with season 3 of hit TV series "Heroes." Consumers bought 72% as many copies of "Heroes" as they did of "State of Play," according to Nielsen research. Walt Disney Studios' "Earth," a feature-length nature documentary compiled from the BBC series "Planet Earth," debuted at No. 3.

On the rental chart, Universal Studios snapped up the top four--count 'em, four--positions. The Julia Robert starrer "Duplicity," the previous week's top renter, slipped to No. 2, generating 75% as much rental activity as "State of Play." The horror remake "The Last House on the Left" held steady at No. 3 its third week in stores, with 49% as many rentals as the Crowe film, while the actioner "Fighting" slipped to No. 4 from No. 2 its second week out. "Fighting" saw 41% as much rental action as "State of Play."

On the Blu-ray Disc sales front, Paramount Home Entertainment's new "Sapphire Series" is a clear hit with consumers. The first two titles in the line, "Gladiator" and "Braveheart," took the two top spots on the Nielsen VideoScan Blu-ray Disc chart their first week in stores, with "Earth" a distant third. Of the documentary's total unit sales, 26% came from Blu-ray.