And you thought all the "Titanic" hype had finally sunk from sight.
Think again. On Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. across the country, the video version of the Oscar-winning, $1.8 billion-grossing, Leo-mania-spawning blockbuster goes on sale across North America.Paramount shipped 20 million video sets of the James Cameron film over the weekend. Industry analysts say it easily will become the biggest-selling live-action video of all time, beating "Jurassic Park," which has sold 17 million copies.
The only question is whether it will surpass the 30 million sales of the reigning video champ, Disney's animated "The Lion King."
Many video and retail chains, from Blockbuster to Best Buy, will be open at midnight, primed to start selling "Titanic" videos at the earliest possible moment allowed in their contracts with Paramount.
"Inarguably, `Titanic' is the biggest video event in years," said Bruce Apar, editor-in-chief and associate publisher of the trade magazine Video Business. "This is the kind of marquee title that gets people into the stores to buy other titles as well."
For that reason, many stores aren't going to make all that much money off the early sales of the 3-hour, 14-minute double-tape set. The video will be retailing for an average of about $25, but many stores are selling it for $19.95 or less.
The on-line video store www.Reel.com, whose whimsical ads say, "We brought it in under budget," is selling the tape for $9.99, plus shipping and handling, well below wholesale cost, which is a trade secret but believed to be around $16.
"We opted to take the loss," explained Julie Wainwright, chief executive officer of Reel.com, which is based in Emeryville, Calif. "We did it to introduce people to shopping at our site. We figured if they had a good experience, there's a good chance they're coming back."
And it's still a big draw at theaters
"Titanic" became the first film to earn more than $600 million in North America, drawing crowds to theaters even though it will be released on video Tuesday.
The action-packed "Blade" topped the weekend box office with $11.1 million in ticket sales, but the bigger story was how "Titanic" still managed to attract audiences more than nine months after its debut, according to estimates released Sunday.
The epic of the doomed ocean liner reached the $600 million milestone on Thursday, then grossed another $385,000 in 502 theaters over the weekend, bringing its total to $600.4 million in North America and nearly $1.8 billion worldwide.