LOS ANGELES – DVD rentals have gone from the silver lining for Hollywood’s struggling home entertainment business to yet another rain cloud.

The Digital Entertainment Group, a trade organization for the major movie studios, released its first-quarter data Thursday with the surprising news that U.S. DVD rental revenue fell 14 percent from a year ago.

The group did not disclose a total dollar figure.

DVD sales account for about half the profits for a movie, so any decline portends financial worries.

The group attributed the decline to the closure of physical stores such as Blockbuster Inc. and Movie Gallery Inc.

Both companies were struggling in 2009, however, when DVD mail subscription service Netflix and kiosk company Redbox accounted for nearly all of the rise in rentals.

Meanwhile, revenue for DVD and high-definition Blu-ray sales fell 11 percent in the first quarter to a little more than $2.5 billion, dashing the hopes of many studios that comparisons with last year, when the recession was in full force, would cause the trend of falling sales to lessen or reverse.

The one major hit that launched on DVD in the first three months of the year was “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” which sold 4 million units the weekend it debuted.


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