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'Pirates' Sequel Takes Treasure

14 Dec, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Talk about booty. Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest tallied first-week sales of 10.5 million units, according to the studio, to make the biggest debut of any new release this year.

The sequel, also the top theatrical earner of 2006, shot to No. 1 on the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart for the week ended Dec. 10, and its draft pulled the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl back up to No. 9 a full three years after it was released.

On Home Media magazine's video rental chart for the week, Dead Man's Chest also scored an easy victory, generating an estimated $12.9 million its first week out.

Dead Man's Chest is now poised to be the top-selling DVD of the year, beating another Disney title, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, which was released in April and has since sold about 14 million copies. The “Pirates” sequel also will likely become the No. 1 live-action DVD ever. That honor now belongs to the original “Pirates” film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, which sold 9.9 million DVDs its first week out (and another 1.1 million VHS cassettes) and went on to sell more than 18 million units, discs and cassettes combined.

The strong sales debut of Dead Man's Chest sounded a vote of confidence among DVD boosters, many of whom were cringing in the wake of a “Today Show” broadcast earlier this month in which an executive from file-sharing service BitTorrent predicted DVD's days were numbered due to digital downloading.

“With the incredible success of Pirates, it is evident that the home entertainment industry continues to flourish,” said Bob Chapek, president of Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment.

The success of the Dead Man's Chest DVD isn't limited to the United States. In the United Kingdom, the film sold nearly 1.5 million DVDs its first week of release — a record. And in Japan, it sold nearly 1 million units to become the No. 1 live-action DVD of all time in that country.

Elsewhere on the First Alert DVD sales chart, Universal Studios' big-screen Miami Vice debuted at No. 2 on the DVD sales chart, while the previous week's bestseller Superman Returns slipped to No. 3.

Two animated features that have been in stores for several weeks, Buena Vista's Cars and 20th Century Fox's Ice Age: The Meltdown, finished fourth and fifth for the week, while Warner's Beerfest debuted at No. 6, one notch above 20th Century Fox's 24: Season 5.

In rental stores, Miami Vice debuted at No. 3, with estimated earnings of $7.9 million. Beerfest bowed at No. 6, with $6.1 million, more than 30% of its theatrical take.

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