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Buyers Snap Up 3.7 Million <i>Pearl Harbor</I> DVDs

11 Dec, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

America's rejuvenated patriotism ignited by the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks may have played a key role in Touchstone Home Entertainment's Pearl Harbor setting an industry record by selling 3.7 million double-disc DVDs to consumers after one week on store shelves, according to Buena Vista Home Entertainment executives responsible for distributing the film.

Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Michael Eisner said the World War II epic is "a tribute to American men and women who serve their country, whether 60 years ago or today."

The VHS and DVD 60th anniversary commemorative editions of Pearl Harbor--starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, directed by Michael Bay and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer--grossed more than $130 million in retail and rental revenue during its first five days on store shelves, BVHE president Robert Chapek said.

"Pearl Harbor" set a company record in its first day at retail, selling more than 3 million VHS and DVD combined units, industry sources said. Half of those were DVD sales.

BVHE's former company DVD record holder was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which moved an estimated 1 million units during its first day at retail.

By Sunday, Pearl Harbor had sold 3.3 million VHS units and 3.7 million DVD units to consumers, industry sources said. Roughly 1 million VHS units went to rental outlets, such as Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery, with 500,000 DVD units bolstering disc rentals at those same rental chains, as well as at independent video stores.

Initial independent tallies from third-party sources to verify BVHE's sales and rental figures won't be available until later this week and next, but there's no reason to doubt BVHE's claim of setting the first-week DVD sales record for a live-action title.

"What will be interesting is to see how all these record-breaking fourth-quarter DVD sales will stack up over the long haul," said one buyer at a mass-merchant retail chain.

The former DVD industry live-action record holder, Universal Studios Home Video's Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, sold about 3.5 million units during its debut week at Thanksgiving. But combined VHS and DVD Grinch sales and rental revenue topped $140 million its first week out, and Grinch rental and sales activity has remained strong.

With USHV's release of Jurassic Park III on DVD and VHS today and strong sales of DreamWorks Home Entertainment's animated feature "Shrek" topping 5.5 million units on DVD, the company (which distributes USHV product) will clearly dominate fourth quarter and perhaps annual DVD sales for 2001, industry analysts said.

Meanwhile, the four-disc DVD Vista version of Pearl Harbor, including Bay's director's cut and many other extras, has been postponed yet again from a slated release date of May 14 to "some time in the year 2002," BVHE executives said.

While BVHE brass have steered clear of discussing the delay, it's widely known among the small cadre of independent DVD producers in Hollywood that director Bay and BVHE have been at odds over several issues involved in the director's cut, mostly surrounding budgetary concerns and the crafting of the four-disc set itself.

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