D'works' Ogre mints $110 mil in retail sales

While Disney was enjoying “Monster” box office receipts for its computer-animated theatrical release, DreamWorks and Universal Studios were raking in Shrek-sized green of their own with the biggest opening weekend in video since “The Lion King” six years ago.

Universal estimates consumer spending of $110 million at retail stores on the VHS and DVD versions of “Shrek” since its release Friday, including the third new record in a month for the fastest-selling DVD title. “Shrek’s” openeing weekend in theaters grossed $42.3 million.

“The Lion King,” which still reigns as the top-grossing animated film and top-selling video of all time, generated $340 million from consumer purchases of more than 20 million VHS copies in the first six days of its release on Feb. 28, 1995. (It was released on a Tuesday like most videos.) It went on to sell more than 30 million copies in the U.S. alone. That was two years before the introduction of DVD.

The purchase of 2.5 million “Shrek” DVDs in three days surpasses the record first set by Universal’s “The Mummy Returns” a month ago with 2 million copies sold in just one week. John Thrasher, VP of video at Tower Video, said “Shrek” is the retailer’s fastest-selling title so far this year, surpassing “Star Wars: Episode I — Phantom Menace.”

Universal reports that another 4.5 million VHS copies of the movie were purchased. VHS is still in about 65 million more homes than DVD.

15 mil units shipped

Universal shipped nearly 15 million combined VHS and DVD copies of the movie, the most since Fox’s VHS-only shipments of “Phantom Menace” two years ago. Both the VHS and DVD versions of “Shrek” feature a new 2½-minute musical dance number that was created specifically for the video, along with hours of behind-the-scenes and interactive menus and games created specifically for the DVD.

The marketing of the two films by the three studios, including Disney’s broadcast of “Toy Story 2″ on its ABC network over the weekend, seems to have benefited the entire computer animation market, with nearly $200 million spent on the two movies by consumers in a single weekend.

Universal Studios Home Video president Craig Kornblau said that the studio is doing its best to keep up with consumer demand on “Shrek,” which has caused some stores to sell out of their initial stock. “We have been completely overwhelmed with re-orders,” he said.

U’s gargantuan quarter

Universal, which distributes DreamWorks’ product on video, is in the midst of what will likely be the biggest fourth quarter ever for a single studio on video. In addition to “The Mummy Returns” and now this year’s biggest theatrical film in “Shrek,” U has last year’s biggest theatrical film coming to video on Nov. 20, “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” followed on Dec. 11 by “Jurassic Park III.” Sprinkled between will be the next installments of the stalwart video premiere franchise titles, “Beethoven’s 4th” and “The Land Before Time: The Big Freeze” on Dec. 4.

The studio will take the unusual step of releasing the surprise summer box office hit “The Fast and the Furious” on Jan. 2, followed by the studio’s other teen summer hit, “American Pie 2,” on Jan. 15.

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