Titles may set sales records

HOLLYWOOD — The DVD picture keeps getting brighter, with “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Cast Away” setting new benchmarks for their respective studios this month.

First-week consumer sales of the DVD version of “Crouching Tiger,” released June 5, were the highest ever for Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, generating about $30 million in retail value on sales of an estimated 1.5 million units, according to research by Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.

It is the biggest first week of the year for a DVD title and the second biggest first week of any DVD title besides “Gladiator,” according to VideoScan data provided by Columbia TriStar. The studio would not provide or confirm any specific unit or dollar sales data.

“Cast Away” may be heading even higher, with an estimated 1.1 million units sold in the first 48 hours after its release Tuesday, generating about $25 million in retail. That makes it the fastest-selling Tom Hanks movie on DVD, surpassing “The Green Mile” and “Saving Private Ryan.” It’s also the fastest-selling DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, outpacing the 1 million DVD copies of “X-Men” purchased in the first week of release last fall.

Both studios shipped in excess of 2.5 million units to stores, which has become the norm for a $100 million-plus box office hit. “Crouching Tiger” generated $127 million in the U.S., while “Cast Away” grossed $233 million.

Columbia TriStar said a record 60% of the “Crouching Tiger” units shipped were sold to consumers in the first week, 23% on the first day. Fox said that 40% of the available copies of “Cast Away” were sold in the first 48 hours.

Col TriStar’s initial shipments for “The Patriot” and “Charlie’s Angels” were about the same as “Crouching Tiger” and became the studio’s two top-selling overall titles so far. “The Patriot” has reached about 2.5 million unit sold, and “Charlie’s Angels” is just under 2 million, according to Video Business research.

Kicking across all lines

“(‘Crouching Tiger’) crosses all lines from romance to action to foreign language,” said Marshall Forster, exec VP, North America. “We expect it to be an evergreen title.”

Rental-priced videocassette sales of “Crouching Tiger” have also been strong, with consumers spending $7.75 million to rent some 450,000 copies at retail stores 2.2 million times, according to VSDA VidTrac.

Forster said three times more copies of the original Mandarin-language version of the videocassette were ordered by retailers. The DVD version offers the option of hearing the movie in either Mandarin or English, with several different language subtitles to choose from.

In addition to the videocassette rentals, consumers spent another $3.68 million renting the DVD version of “Crouching Tiger.”

(Wendy Wilson is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.)

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