Disney’s funny fish makes a DVD splash

'Nemo' swims past sales record with 8 mil copies sold

It didn’t take long for consumers to find “Nemo” on DVD and plop down another $135 million on the movie they spent a record $340 million on when it was in theaters.

Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment estimates consumers bought 8 million DVD and VHS copies of “Finding Nemo” on Tuesday, shattering the previous first-day sales record of 7 million, set last year by Columbia TriStar’s “Spider-Man.”

The $135 million spend, comparable to the movie’s first-week haul from theaters, is expected to escalate beyond the $400 million threshold.

Buena Vista has already shipped 25 million units of “Nemo” to retailers, and BVHE president Robert Chapek said the studio is already replenishing product in some stores and expects others to sell out of copies of the DVD by the weekend.

Though most people knew sales of the biggest animated film of all time would be huge and that the homevid release would most likely be one of the biggest since all-time bestseller “The Lion King,” the response still caught many by surprise.

Chapek said one major L.A. retailer has already sold through 70% of its inventory and another sold all the copies on Tuesday that he expected would last the week.

The studio is ordering more copies to be duplicated; they should reach retail within days.

“Nemo” also established a record for DVD sales, with about 80% of the 8 million overall copies, or 6.4 million, being purchased on disc. Chapek says that percentage will skew even more in favor of DVD during holiday sales.

About 75% of the “Spider-Man” copies sold on the first day of release, or 5.25 million, were on DVD. About 3.25 million of the 5 million copies of the last Disney/Pixar computer-animated movie, “Monsters, Inc.,” sold on the first day of release in September 2002, were on DVD, a record at the time.

Major retailers, who often use video releases as loss leaders, have been offering steep discounts on the title down to $14.99. But Disney still gets the same wholesale fee regardless of the selling price.

While “Nemo” should easily be the top-selling title of the year and eventually one of the top-selling titles of all time, it’s not expected to surpass “The Lion King,” which has sold 31 million units on videocassette and is expected to exceed 40 million copies with the recent DVD release.

(Jennifer Netherby is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.)

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