"Titanic" comes out on video, and retailers are expecting a new record

With “Titanic” docking today, video-store owners who watched the blockbuster sail to a record-breaking $600 million U.S. theater gross on Thursday 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.”

Blockbuster kept many of its stores open past midnight this morning to welcome sleepless Leo fans. The northeast chain West Coast Video bought 100,000 copies for its 300 company-owned stores, the biggest order it’s made for any title, and it has already presold one-third of its order to customers. “Barring any unforeseen icebergs, we expect a great return on our investment,” says Steven Apple, VP of corporate development for West Coast Video.

Paramount isn’t relying on video chains alone to help move the reported 26 million copies of “Titanic” it distributed. The film is also being sold at gas stations, grocery stores, and discount emporiums like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Industry watchers expect “Titanic” to become the best-selling video ever, topping “The Lion King” (No. 1 with 27.5 million copies shipped) and “Independence Day” (21.9 million).

James Cameron has spoken about a director’s cut, which could be released within a year or two. But retailers say the promise of a “Titanic” with additional footage won’t keep fans from buying now. “‘Titanic’ 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.”

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