Sources at Buena Vista Home Video indicated yesterday that consumers purchased more than 1 million copies of “Beauty and the Beast” on Tuesday, the first day it was available in stores. The rate of sales is believed to be unprecedented in the vid industry.

Bill Mechanic, president of international theatrical and worldwide homevideo, commented, “It’s attributable to nothing more than people waiting for this movie.”

Exex at such retail chains as Musicland, Target Stores and Trans World Music gave testimonials yesterday to first-day sales. Musicland’s Gary Ross said “Beast” was his chain’s best unit and dollar release ever.

Target’s Bob Pollack said sales in the first two days of availability were almost three times greater than sales of “101 Dalmatians,” which was the chain’s previous bestseller. It’s believed Target sold more than 125,000 “Beast” units Tuesday.

Trans World’s Dean Wilson said “Beast” sales have more than doubled sales of “Fantasia.”

Though Buena Vista has been coy about disclosing total units shipped, sources suggest “Beauty and the Beast” shipped upwards of 17 million units to date, an industry record. At that rate, the $ 24.99 (suggested retail) title would have a gross value to the studio of around $ 240 million.

One studio source predicted consumer sales would top 9 million units by Monday.

It is not clear yet which classes of trade are doing best with “Beast,” but their are bound to be some disgruntled smaller dealers, as large dealers discount it. Toys R Us yesterday advertised “Beast” for a net price of $ 9.99, after a $ 5 rebate from Nabisco and a $ 2 rebate from Toys R Us.

Regarding the Toys R Us move, Mechanic said, “Everybody will pick their own way of advertising and pricing, as is their right to do.”