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‘Nemo’ breaks sales records

Possibility of shortages if demand keeps up at this pace
/ Source: The Associated Press

If early sales hold up, DVDs and videos of the animated underwater adventure “Finding Nemo” may be as hard to find as the movie’s elusive young clown fish.

The Walt Disney Co. Wednesday said it had sold a record 8 million DVDs and videos of the smash hit film in its first day on retail shelves with demand so high it raised the possibility of shortages.

Disney, in partnership with Pixar Animation Studios Inc., produced the film about the lost fish “Nemo” and his father’s adventure to find him. The previous single-day record for an animated movie was 5 million DVD and video sales for their previous collaboration, “Monsters, Inc.”

Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Entertainment sold 7 million DVDs and videos of its “Spider-Man” movie when it first hit retail shelves in November last year.

The movie, “Nemo,” which was released in May, has been 2003’s biggest box office hit with just under $340 million in movie ticket sales in the United States and Canada.

“You can’t have great DVD without great film, and people know what great entertainment ‘Finding Nemo’ is,” said the DVD’s producer, Bill Kinder, of Pixar.

Bob Chapek, head of Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment group that markets videos and DVDs, said the company shipped 25 million units to retailers, but underestimated demand. He said Disney is working with manufacturers to get more copies made for retailers who will likely see shortages this week.

“Some of our customers have told us they sold three times what they projected on day one,” he said. “We’re aggressively making as many (copies) as possible, but it is likely that some of our major accounts may go out of stock,” he said.

Chapek said the mix of sales was roughly 80 percent DVDs to 20 percent videos, with DVDs being offered at a suggested retail price of $19.99 and videos at $17.99. Many retailers, however, put steep discounts on DVDs to help drive sales of other goods, so actual retail revenues are hard to pinpoint.

Still, if the DVDs and videos were sold at suggested retail prices, “Nemo’s” one-day sales figure would total $156 million, which would be a massive weekend box office debut for a movie. That underscores the fact that amid the booming DVD market, the home entertainment groups of Hollywood’s major studios are pumping up profits.

Kinder said the “Nemo” DVD has several special features that have appealed to fans including a short film by explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau about the underwater environment off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Disney shares rose after the news release to end trading on the New York Stock Exchange up 27 cents, or 1.19 percent, at $23.02. Pixar shares gained 48 cents to end at 69.96 on the Nasdaq.