Majestic ‘King’ bow

Special edition expected to sell 44 mil copies

The top-selling homevideo title of all time just moved further ahead of the pack: “The Lion King Special Edition” saw sales of more than 3 million copies in its first two days of release, according to Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

Disney’s own “Finding Nemo” surpassed the movie this summer in terms of top box office gross of all time for an animated movie and could exceed the 24.5 million VHS and DVD copies of “Shrek” purchased by consumers since that title’s release in 2001. But neither title will come close to surpassing the 44 million copies sold that “The Lion King” is projected to reach with the new re-release.

Even before DVD, “The Lion King” had moved about 32 million copies on VHS alone. Industry sources expect another 12 million copies of the new special edition to be sold, most on DVD and most in homes that already own the original VHS.

Consumers spent more than $51 million on the new edition in the first 48 hours, according to industry estimates. BVHE claims the 3 million copies sets a record for the DVD debut of a movie previously released on VHS. It is already the studio’s fastest-selling title of the year and is outpacing the studio’s previous fastest-selling re-release on DVD, “Beauty and the Beast.”

“We knew this was going to be big,” said BVHE senior VP of brand marketing Gordon Ho. “We’re more than pleased with this performance.”

Buena Vista launched what it called the biggest home entertainment marketing campaign behind the re-release, pulling in nontraditional retailers such as Payless Shoes stores, which was selling the DVD for $19.99, and convenience store chain 7-Eleven, which brought in the DVD in greater depth than it has for other releases, Ho said.

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

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