Rentals of home videos and DVDs topped $8.42 billion in 2001, up 2.1 percent from last year, due to more retail transactions and the rapidly growing popularity of new DVDs, according to industry figures.

The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) late Friday, said the total number of transactions at rental outlets in 2001 grew 7.2 percent over 2000 to an estimated 2.79 billion.

In keeping with recent years, the total rental revenue from the home video market topped the 2001 film box office total of around $8.35 billion, which was a final figure from Los Angeles-based box office tracker Exhibitor Relations Inc.

Rival ACI Nielsen/EDI put 2001's box office figure at a slightly less $8.13 billion. Nevertheless, the home video/DVD market continues to be a growing money maker for Hollywood.

"Renting movies remains a bargain for consumers, offering the best value and convenience for their entertainment dollar," said Bo Andersen, president of the VSDA.

The DVD portion of the rental total spiked 164 percent in 2001 from the year before. Rentals of VHS videos accounted for $7.02 billion of the total, while DVD made up $1.4 billion of the rentals, according to the VSDA.

2001 was a breakthrough year for the new digital format as the number of DVD players in U.S. homes reached a mass market level, and DVDs of box office hits like "Shrek", "Planet of the Apes", "Legally Blonde" and the classic Disney fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" met strong consumer demand.

The corporate parents of some of Hollywood's major film studios are AOL Time Warner Inc., Viacom Inc., The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. Ltd. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Major video rental chains include Blockbuster Inc. and Hollywood Entertainment Corp.