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'Halo 3' Sales: History-Making, or Just Hype?

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Halo1_l

Halo1_l

Yesterday’s breathless press release proclaiming, “Xbox 360

Exclusive ‘Halo 3’ Registers Biggest Day in US Entertainment History with

$170 Million in Sales,” rightfully got some attention. To be sure, consumers spent more money on the long-anticipated videogame threequel in one day than they did on, say, Spider-Man 3, over the course of its three-day opening weekend ($151 million). So there’s no denying that we’ve got a truly impressive statistic on our hands here. (And one that, perhaps once and for all, will open folks’ eyes to the fact that gaming might well be as popular as movies nowadays.)

But can this really be called the “Biggest Day in U.S. Entertainment History”? Depends on how you look at it. In terms of pure revenue, well, possibly — Halo 3‘s initial take may be greater than the biggest movie opening of all time, but you’ve gotta wonder how that $170 mil figure compares to the money that your run-of-the-mill Super Bowl telecast brings in. What’s more, when translated into sheer number of units sold, Halo 3 (which cost between $60 and $130) falls way behind products like Spider-Man 3 or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: More than two million copies of Halo 3 were sold on its first day, but about 10 times as many tickets were purchased for Spidey on its opening weekend, and 8.3 million copies of the final Harry Potter book flew off U.S. shelves in its first 24-hour cycle. Okay, now I’m breathless.