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‘Brock’ will break $100 mil on vid

Roberts pic to reach milestone, beats 'Menace' in VHS revs

Julia Roberts and “Erin Brockovich” are winning another one.

The VHS video version of the movie generated more rental revenue in its first week of release than any other title priced for sell-through this year, including “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”

Combined with DVD rentals and sales of the title on both VHS and DVD, the video version is already on track to surpass $100 million in consumer spending and probably the $125 million the movie generated at domestic movie theaters.

“Erin Brockovich” was also the top-renting DVD title last week, according to VSDA VidTrac, and the top-selling VHS and DVD title, according to the exclusive national sales charts of Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.

Femme strength

The movie has also become the first DVD title starring a woman to generate orders of 1 million units, according to Universal Studios Home Video.

The 1 million DVD units rep about 16.5% of Universal’s estimated overall shipment of 6 million copies of the pic, with the rest shipped on VHS, according to industry sources.

USHV president Craig Kornblau said the DVD shipments, in particular, are significant because they show that the market for the DVD format has moved beyond the initial early-adopter genres of action-adventure and f/x-driven movies targeting teenage and male audiences.

Nearly $12.6 million was spent last week on the rental of the VHS edition, which carries a suggested retail price of $22.98. That’s more than the $11.95 million spent on “Phantom Menace,” which was priced at $24.98. Four other titles have generated more VHS rental revenue in their first week than “Erin Brockovich,” but they were not priced to be purchased as well as rented: “The Sixth Sense” ($22.6 million); “The Green Mile” ($17.9 million); “Double Jeopardy” ($14.33 million); and “Three Kings” ($12.91 million).

DVD inroads

The additional $1.24 million in “Brockovich” DVD rentals last week was also significant, ranking the DVD edition alone as the 20th top-renting overall title of the week on either the VHS or DVD format.

Although “The Sixth Sense” was by far the top-renting DVD of the year, with $3.31 million in its opening week, “Erin Brockovich” is the fourth-best DVD renter, also trailing “The Green Mile” ($2.32 million); and “Sleepy Hollow” ($1.8 million).

Retailers as diverse as Circuit City, Tower Records, Amazon.com, and Best Buy have reported that “Erin Brockovich” was the top-selling VHS and DVD title in their stores.

The 1 million unit shipment order extends Universal’s lead in that category to seven titles, including two DreamWorks titles distributed by Universal, “Saving Private Ryan” and “Galaxy Quest.” The other four are “Jaws,” “End of Days,” “American Pie” and “The Mummy.”

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