Warner pix keep fans in Czech

'Rings' vid, DVD expected to outperform 'Snow White'

PRAGUE — Warner Bros.’ Czech home entertainment division is poised to break records for video and DVD releases, capping a banner year for the theatrical division.

Ladislav Stastny, managing director of the Czech unit, said Wednesday that “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” which the company picked up for local distribution, had already shipped 150,000 units and is expected to outperform the top-slotted “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

On top of that, the Czech firm producing “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” videos is working round the clock to keep up with demand.

Numbers reflect the growing demand for VHS rental and sell-through in the Czech Republic. But DVD, where the hardware base is doubling annually, is also a boom area for WB Czech. In DVD, sales of “Lord of the Rings” look set to overtake those of “The Matrix.” “I think we could do 30,000, which would be great,” Stastny said.

The two titles also top the theater charts. “It’s a break-through year for us,” Stastny said. “We’re quadrupling the 2001 theatrical revenues.”

Already at $3.5 million, WB is expecting to account for $4 million in net revenues from the two. “Harry Potter” has chalked up over 700,000 admissions and “Lord of the Rings” is just 50,000 shy of 1 million, which the film could reach by year’s end.

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