"Titanic" should break all video records

With “Titanic” set to sail onto tape September 1, video-store owners who watched the blockbuster earn $1.7 billion in theaters worldwide are feeling as if their ship has finally come in. “This is going to be one of those titles that retailers love,” says Diane Garrett, senior reporter at Video Store Magazine. “It will be both a strong seller and a strong renter.”

Retailers are betting that the top-grossing film of all time will set video records as well. “We’ll probably buy ‘Titanic’ as we’ve bought no title in the past,” says Steven Apple, VP of corporate development for the 600-store West Coast Video chain. In its zeal to break records, Paramount is distributing the $19.95 film through gas stations, grocery stores and giant emporiums like Best Buy and Wal-Mart — in addition to video stores. “The Lion King” holds the current video record, with 27.5 million copies shipped; “Independence Day” is number two with 21.9 million. Apple says “Titanic” could top both.

James Cameron has alluded to a “director’s cut,” which could be released within a year or two. But experts say the promise of a “Titanic” with additional footage won’t keep fans from buying now. “Titanic”‘s fans will buy as many versions as the studio wants to put out,” says Apple. “They’ll collect everything that has the name on it.” –Josh Wolk

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