James Cameron, King of DVD Sales

by Mike Ryan · April 26, 2010
Photo: Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images

Well, so much for those fears that no one would want to see "Avatar" in 2D. James Cameron's "Avatar," which is already the most financially successful film of all time (it brought in over $2.7 billion at theaters worldwide) has now broken almost every record known to man in the home video market, too. "Avatar" sold 2.7 million high-definition Blu-ray discs -- along with 4 million standard definition DVDs -- in the first four days it was available.

"Avatar" bucked the usual Tuesday-release tradition in order to take advantage of the environmental themes in the film. Instead, it was released on Earth Day, which was Thursday.

There was concern that "Avatar" fans would balk at the non 3D Blu-rays and DVDs -- a valid concern considering only 20% of "Avatar"'s domestic box office gross came from the standard two-dimensional screenings. Or "only" around $150 million.

The previous Blu-ray king had been the 2008 film, "The Dark Knight," which sold 2.5 million Blu-rays - a milestone it took 16 months to reach. It took Avatar just over one weekend to supersede that number. On December 9, 2008, "The Dark Knight" sold 600,000 Blu-rays on its first day, which beat the previous record-holder, "Iron Man," by 200,000 units.

An interesting side note to "Avatar"'s Blu-ray and DVD success: "Avatar"'s studio, Fox, agreed to a deal with Netflix that prevented the online-rental-and-video-streaming site from offering the film until 28 days after the films for-sale release. A similar deal was agreed to with Redbox, the service that offers DVDs from vending machines set up at department and grocery stores. Cutting these two retailers out of the mix, albeit temporarily, pretty much leaves consumers only one way of viewing "Avatar" on their home theaters. If they wanted to see it, they had to purchase the discs. And, clearly, that's exactly what consumers did.

In fact, analysts are predicting a spike in Blu-ray player sales propelled by the runaway success of "Avatar"'s disc. Target went as far as to offer the player and disc as a package that included a $20 gift card.

No word yet on how many new "Avatar" Blu-ray disc owners have returned their purchase to stores, asking for the nonexistent 3D version.

Watch Clips from 'Avatar'

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