First day of ‘Monsters’ vid scares up $85 mil

Consumers bought 5 million VHS, DVD copies Tuesday

The Disney-Pixar collaboration “Monsters, Inc.” proved to be the biggest opening day video monster of all time Tuesday, with consumers buying more first-day copies than any other title in history.

Although many retailers were selling the title at loss leader prices, Disney’s wholesale revenue was at least $85 million on Tuesday.

The news could not have come at a better time for Disney CEO Michael Eisner, whose company has been under pressure to increase revenue and its stock price.

“This tremendous response validates the innovative blend of creativity and technology,” Eisner said.

Consumers purchased 5 million VHS and DVD copies of the title on Tuesday, with a far higher percentage — 60%-65% — being purchased on DVD than the 50% the studio expected. About 1 million of those copies were pre-sold to consumers who reserved a copy at The Disney Store and other outlets in the past weeks and months.

The two-disc set includes hours of behind-the-scenes material and original extras such as an animated short called “Mike’s New Car,” produced specifically for the DVD.

“We’re happy about the strategy of holding off on releasing it until the fall in order to take the time to make the kind of DVD that we love to make,” said Pixar Animation Studios chairman-CEO Steve Jobs. “It looks like it’s paying off.”

The previous first-day record-holder was Disney’s “The Lion King,” with 4.5 million VHS copies sold on Feb. 28, 1995 — pre-DVD. That title went on to sell 20 million copies in the first six days and about 30 million to date.

Last year Buena Vista claimed a first-day DVD sales record of 1 million copies purchased of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a claim that was anonymously disputed by competitors but never officially debunked. Tuesday’s DVD sales of “Monster’s Inc.” exceeded 3 million copies.

DreamWorks claimed first-week VHS and DVD sales of 9 million units last fall for “Shrek,” while Warner claimed to eclipse that mark in May with just under 10 million copies purchased of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Coupled with rental revenue, the “Monsters, Inc.” could generate first-week consumer spending in the neighborhood of $150 million.

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