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'Star Wars' DVD seeks the force
First-day sales of long-awaited trilogy top estimated $100 million but fall short of record.
September 23, 2004: 4:23 PM EDT
By Krysten Crawford, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - First-day DVD sales of the long-awaited 'Star Wars' trilogy topped an estimated $100 million worldwide, but entertainment industry analysts said the multi-disc set was unlikely to break records soon.

Actual sales figures are not yet publicly known. The film's distributor, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, released a statement late Wednesday trumpeting $115 million in combined first-day global sales of both the 'Star Wars' DVD and the 'Star Wars Battlefront' video game, which simultaneously went on sale separately Tuesday.

A spokesman for 20th Century Fox declined to break down sales figures, either by revenue or units sold. A report in Daily Variety estimated that 90 percent of the $115 million -- or roughly $103 million -- came from DVD sales, mostly in the United States.

With a discount price of about $42, that would come to just under 2.5 million copies.

The current one-day DVD record holder is 'Finding Nemo,' which sold 8 million copies in its first 24 hours on store shelves. And just a few weeks ago, 20th Century Fox openly trumpeted the 4.1 million first-day copies sold of 'The Passion of the Christ' DVD, also distributed by the News Corp (NWS: down $0.02 to $32.81, Research, Estimates). unit.

Scott Hettrick, the editor-in-chief of DVD Exclusive, estimated that 20th Century Fox shipped 4 million copies to retail outlets. He said the 'Star Wars' trilogy was unlikely to break one-day or one-week sales records for one key reason: price.

Even factoring in the 40 percent discounts now available on the four-disc set, which carries a suggested retail price of $69.98, the DVD is far more expensive than 'Finding Nemo' and other typical DVD singles, which sell for between $15 and $20.

Hettrick said the trilogy "will probably end up ranking as one of the biggest DVD titles of the year" and might set a dollar record due to its higher price. But that's not the same as units sold, he noted.

Hettrick also noted that comparisons between 'Star Wars' and other DVD debuts were difficult to draw because Fox took the unusual step of releasing the 'Star Wars' trilogy worldwide. Most distributors typically stagger DVD release dates for different markets.

That said, Hettrick added that 'Star Wars' sales were off to an impressive start.

There's no doubt the 'Star Wars' trilogy will be a brisk moneymaker, mostly for 'Star Wars' creator LucasArts, whose five films have reaped more than $3.4 billion in worldwide box office ticket sales. A sixth 'Star Wars' installment -- the third prequel -- is due in theaters next May.

Kristin Schaefer Mariani, a spokeswoman for, declined to disclose actual 'Star Wars' DVD sales but said both the wide screen and full screen editions, available for $41.99, were holding the No. 1 and 2 spots on its DVD sales list.

Great Britain
Video Games

She said that's the first time in recent memory that both versions of the same title were in the top two sales positions. "They have been one of the top sellers" ever since they became available for pre-order in March, she said.

While Schaefer Mariani said does not plan to release 'Star Wars' DVD figures, her counterparts at's British unit did. According to a statement released last week, the 'Star Wars' trilogy received 85,000 pre-orders in Britain, more than the 50,000 advance orders for the previous record-holder 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.'

The 'Star Wars' DVD is also available in Britain at a 40 percent discount.  Top of page

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