Pyramid power

'Mummy' sequel unwraps $90 mil in vid bow

The Mummy returned with a vengeance as consumers spent a record $90 million on purchase and rental of VHS and DVD versions of the movie in its opening week.

That’s a 33% bigger opening on video than “The Mummy Returns’ ” $68.1 million theatrical opening — the third-biggest of the year.

The news came on what could be the biggest single day in the four-year history of DVD, all of which leads into what will certainly be an unprecedented fourth quarter for video sales. On Tuesday, Disney released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and Paramount released “The Godfather” trilogy.

Disney is believed to have shipped more than 4 million copies of “Snow White” to retailers, just shy of the record-breaking 4.5 million units Universal delivered of “The Mummy Returns.”

Although Paramount shipped less than 2 million units of “The Godfather,” the five-disc set was selling in most stores for approximately $70, about three times the price of the other two double-disc sets.

Preliminary activity reports indicate that first-day sales of “Snow White” and “The Godfather” on Tuesday, combined with continued sales of “The Mummy Returns,” will result in record-setting numbers.

‘Gladiator’ bested

Universal reported that “The Mummy Returns,” released a week earlier on Oct. 2, sold more than two million DVD copies to consumers in the first week, surpassing last year’s DVD sales of “Gladiator,” a DreamWorks title distributed by Universal. Even more copies of “The Mummy Returns” were sold on VHS.

Total combined VHS and DVD sales of “The Mummy Returns” were 70% greater than video sales of the original “The Mummy” in 1999.

First week rentals of “The Mummy Returns” were also big, with consumers spending $15.4 million on VHS and DVD copies, according to the VSDA VidTrac data tracking service.

“This is just an explosion,” Craig Kornblau, president Universal Studios Home Video said. “This is significantly stronger than anyone at the studio expected.”

With upcoming blockbusters during the holidays like “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Jurassic Park III” and DreamWorks’ “Shrek,” Universal expects its titles to cumulatively generate nearly as much money this fourth quarter as the entire industry amassed last year.

“Thanksgiving should just be phenomenally jaw-breaking,” Kornblau said.

John Thrasher, VP of video at Tower Records and Video, said the chain sold 50% of all its copies of “The Mummy Returns” in the first week. He expects to do well with “The Godfather,” too, because of previous success with the VHS version and the boxed-set of “The Sopranos,” also a pricier item with a mob theme.

Paramount Home Entertainment, which sent some senior video execs out to stores to see what was happening, said some stores were selling out their entire order on the first day.

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