VIDEO RENTAL ROUNDUP

BlowOut Files For Chapter 11Entertainment, Portland, Ore., an operator of leased-space video departments in supermarkets and superstores, last week sold about 90 of its in-store shops to Movie Gallery here. BlowOut also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after it failed to obtain new capital or boost its cash flow.Movie Gallery paid $2.4 million for the shops, which include 79 located within

BlowOut Files For Chapter 11

Entertainment, Portland, Ore., an operator of leased-space video departments in supermarkets and superstores, last week sold about 90 of its in-store shops to Movie Gallery here. BlowOut also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after it failed to obtain new capital or boost its cash flow.

Movie Gallery paid $2.4 million for the shops, which include 79 located within Wal-Mart Supercenters and eight in Super Kmart Centers. The BlowOut shops produced revenues of $18 million in 1998. "That's a good deal for Movie Gallery," said an industry source familiar with the kind of shops BlowOut operates.

Last April, BlowOut had 173 departments, with 140 in Wal-Mart Supercenters, based in Bentonville, Ark.; 18 in Super Kmart Centers, based in Troy, Mich.; 12 in supermarkets of Ralphs Grocery Co., Compton, Calif.; and three in units of Fred Meyer Inc., Portland, Ore. Industry sources said BlowOut had closed many of its stores recently, but it was not clear what had become of the supermarket departments.

Divx-Blockbuster Deal Reported Near

RICHMOND, Va. -- The stock price of Circuit City, here, shot up earlier this month on speculation that Blockbuster Entertainment, Dallas, would invest in the electronic retailer's Divx technology. The publication TV Digest reported that a deal was near. The possibility also was mentioned in a research report issued by Merrill Lynch & Co., New York. "If the Blockbuster investment were to occur, it would bode well for the Circuit City stock," wrote Merrill Lynch analyst Peter Caruso.

To date, Divx, which offers a limited-play variation of DVD, has received a cool reception from most in the video-rental business, and a deal with Blockbuster would be a very big surprise, observers said.

Top 10 Supermarket Video Rental Titles

Last

Rank Wk Title (Wks Out)

Ever After (2)

1 5 Fox $19.98

What Dreams May Come (1)

2 N Polygram $106.99

Snake Eyes (4)

3 2 Paramount $104.16

There's Something (6)

4 1 About Mary

Fox $108.97

Practical Magic (4)

5 3 Warner $107.37

Mulan (6)

6 4 Buena Vista $26.99

Rush Hour (7)

7 6 Warner $107.37

Rounders (5)

8 7 Buena Vista $107.37

Urban Legend (3)

9 8 Columbia $107.37

Antz (5)

10 9 DreamWorks $26.99

N=New Week ended March 14

This chart, tailored for the supermarket video market, is based on information taken from more than 1,000 supermarket rental locations serviced by Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn.