Weak boxoffice films flex video muscle


Two new releases that did so-so at the boxoffice took the two top spots on the national DVD sales and rental charts for the week ending Jan. 21.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's football drama "The Gridiron Gang" finished first, and Lionsgate's "Employee of the Month" came in second on the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart.

On Home Media Magazine's rental chart, the order was reversed, with "Employee" scoring a narrow victory over "Gang." The former, a screwball comedy starring Jessica Simpson, generated an estimated $5.3 million in rental revenue, or 18.7% of its $28.4 million theatrical gross. "Gang" tallied $5.2 million, or 13.5% of its $38.4 million boxoffice take.

The previous week's most popular DVD, Lionsgate's adrenaline-laced "Crank," slipped to No. 3 on the rental chart, with $5 million. After two weeks, the film already has earned 40% of its theatrical gross at the rental counter alone.

On the sales front, "Crank" sank from the top spot to No. 6. Right behind "Gang" and "Employee" on First Alert were two newcomers, New Line's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" and Genius Products' "The Protector," a martial arts actioner from the Weinstein Co. The No. 5 spot went to 20th Century Fox's "The Illusionist," No. 2 the previous week.

"Chainsaw" debuted at No. 5 on the rental chart, while "Protector" is exclusive to Blockbuster and thus is not tracked.