Copyright 2001

[ November 28th 2001 ]

Universal has yet another holiday hit on its hands, as Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas swiped $145 million in DVD and VHS sales and rental revenue last week, making it the second highest-grossing, live-action title of all time just behind Titanic.

Universal Studios Home Video president Craig Kornblau says the studio sold some 8.5 million units of the movie, including a record 3 million DVDs - of which 500,000 were bought by retailers to be used as rental copies. Another 4 million copies of the VHS edition were purchased along with an additional million units snatched up by rental stores. The movie was released on video on November 20.

By comparison, 20th Century Fox's Titanic pulled in $170 million in video sales during its first week on store shelves. Only Disney's The Lion King - the top-grossing 'toon of all time as well as the biggest-selling video ever - can claim a similar feat, but that was before the DVD era. The film earned more than $340 million from video sales, selling more than 20 million copies in its first week of release in February 1995.

Independent sales and rental figures for the Thanksgiving holiday won't be released until December. But if the numbers hold, it would mean that Jim Carrey's turn as the hairy green holiday killjoy in just one week will have practically matched The Grinch's $260 million total box-office run from last year.

Producer Brian Grazer spins the numbers as proof that consumers are in the mood for some holiday cheer. "I believe that it did well because, more than ever, the moviegoing and buying public is looking for a good feeling about the holidays and the extraordinary and original performance of Jim [Carrey] as the Grinch just add to what was already a positive experience," Grazer told the Hollywood Reporter.

Grazer says he's now considering getting director Ron Howard together with Carrey to record an audio commentary that would accompany a future DVD release of The Grinch. The Grinch's record grip on the green follows another not-so-jolly green giant who muscled his way into video stores. Universal Home Video's Shrek, released in partnership with distributor DreamWorks earlier this month, gobbled up some $110 million in combined DVD and VHS sales. Shrek also was the previous recordholder for best first-week DVD sales, moving about 2.5 million copies.

The fractured fairy tale, and DVD releases of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (about 2.2 million DVDs sold) and The Mummy Returns (about 2 million discs sold), have marked a fantastic fall for the DVD format. Other big sellers have included Tim Burton's new Planet of the Apes, The Godfather trilogy, Snow White, Dumbo, On the Waterfront, Dr. Zhivago, Citizen Kane and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Additional holiday titles include: Jurassic Park III, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Rush Hour 2, Scary Movie 2 and Pearl Harbor which should all find their way into Christmas stockings this year.

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