‘Lion’ Vid Wows With Huge Sales Numbers

Retailers continue to salivate over the numbers being generated by the sales of Disney’s “The Lion King,” with most believing the video will likely top the 26 million mark.

If it reaches that plateau, it would become the bestselling homevideo in history and top the industry’s current leader, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Disney announced March 6 that “The Lion King” sold more than 20 million copies in its first week of release, with first-day sales greater than the combined one-day consumer sales of “Snow White” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

“Snow” “Aladdin” and “Beauty” – currently ranked as the industry’s No. 1,2 and 3 bestsellers, respectively – together have sold a whopping 72 million copies.

The studio also said the 20 million units of “The Lion King” purchased by consumers in the first six days of sale is at a rate four times faster than the vids are being duplicated, making it difficult for the studio to keep up with the demand.

“That’s a real concern for us,” said Ann Daly, president of Buena Vista Home Video. “We have our fingers crossed that by having all our duplication facilities working around the clock that we will able to keep up with this incredible demand.”

Daly said she expects the demand for the video to remain solid for the studio’s highest-grossing film, which has pulled in more than $740 million in worldwide box office and is still in theaters.

The video, like all Disney event titles, will only be available for a limited time before it is removed from retailers’ shelves. It was released on Feb. 28.

Daly also noted that it took “Snow White” – considered an out-of-the-box success – almost four weeks to reach the sales level achieved in just six days by “The Lion King.”

The studio said it expects to announce that “Snow White” has reached the 26 million mark by the end of April.

Industry research sources also indicate “The Lion King” in its first four days of release has sur-passed the entire net sales of MCA/Universal’s “Jurassic Park,” the year’s other big seller.

Sales of the MCA vid – released on Oct. 4,1994 – are said to be just north of 15 million units and it took nearly five months to log its enormous sales tally.

Retailers surveyed late last week concur with Disney’s record-breaking assessment and expect sales to remain strong over the next several months.

Many reported that first-day sales of “King” were far and away stronger than the first-day sales of its Disney predecessors and MCA’s “Jurassic Park.”

Some retailers said they had expected a slow start for the latest Disney offering – particularly after a Christmas season that saw the marketplace flooded with popular videos – and kept their pre-orders low.

But after the success of the first week, many said they expect to go back to the Disney well and order additional copies.

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