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Throngs of people filed into a Chicago Blockbuster Video store to buy or rent the newly released "Titanic" videocasette

'Titanic' hits video stores, selling fast

Web posted on: Tuesday, September 01, 1998 12:42:01 PM

ATLANTA (CNN) -- "Titanic" appears to be on course to dethrone "The Lion King" as the top-selling video of all time. Videos of the Academy Award-winning tragic love story went on sale at midnight Tuesday, and were selling fast.

"It's really going well," said Bob Gerhinger, Blockbuster Video's marketing manager for the Northeast. "It's exceeding all my expectations for people showing up."

Indeed, people showed up across the country, standing in midnight lines numbering over 200, waiting to buy the James Cameron movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet for a cost that ranged from $10 to $30.

Blockbuster Video employees donned orange life jackets while selling copies of "Titanic"

'It's a good love story'

At a Blockbuster store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, more than 150 people bought the video within the first 20 minutes after midnight.

"It was a lot bigger turnout than I ever expected," said manager John Reed, who was dressed in a black tuxedo with tails and gray pinstriped pants. "This is the largest video first-day release that I've ever seen."

In Chicago, more than 200 people stood in line outside Blockbuster, waiting for the video to go on sale.

In New York's Times Square, dozens gathered outside the Virgin Megastore -- including Diane Castillo, 21, who has seen the 3-hour, 14-minute long "Titanic" in theaters 54 times.

"It's a good love story," Castillo said, explaining the need to own a movie she already knows by heart. "The way (DiCaprio's character) died for (Winslet's character), you wouldn't find that here. Nobody in New York is going to die for you."

Bill Fowble, 21, and his girlfriend Heather Curtis, 19, have both seen "Titanic" four times. Yet they were the first in line outside a Hollywood Video store in the Seattle suburb of Lake Forest Park to buy the video. When asked why they waited 90 minutes to buy a movie they've both seen, Fowble answered: "Because we're all idiots."

The video sold at an average price of $20

'Titanic' promotions

The video sale has been promoted heavily -- for example, Best Buy offered free "Titanic" calendars, and Blockbuster is offering the first 100 customers at its 6,000 stores the chance to enter a drawing for a free cruise.

A Blockbuster in Brooklyn featured an 8-foot ice sculpture of the doomed cruise liner, which hit an iceberg during its maiden voyage in 1912. And online retailer is practically giving away the video at $9.99, an estimated $6 below cost; it had logged more than 200,000 preorders by last weekend.

Over 1,200 people died in the Atlantic Ocean tragedy. The movie depicts the ship's voyage into infamy, and adds the story of DiCaprio and Winslet, young lovers who find each other just before chaos ensues.

Paramount Home Video has shipped over 20 million copies of "Titanic"

Aiming for history

Paramount Home Video, which is distributing "Titanic" home videos, has said it shipped more than 20 million copies of the movie.

If it sells that many copies, as expected, it would break the record for video sales of a live-action film: "Jurassic Park" has sold 17 million so far. Disney's animated "The Lion King" has sold 30 million copies worldwide, a mark that could be in jeopardy, judging from "Titanic"'s reputation for smashing records.

The film is the first to take in more than $600 million at the U.S. box office, and has earned a record $1.8 billion overall.

"Video should add probably another $800 million of gross sales," says Ed Hatch, an analyst at UBS Securities. "'Titanic' could provide the gross domestic product, almost, of a small country, given how profitable it's been."

At this year's Academy Awards, the movie raked in a record-tying 11 Oscars, including one for best picture.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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