"Avatar" sets first-day Blu-ray sales record

Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:44pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - DVDs and Blu-ray Discs of James Cameron's "Avatar" flew off store shelves Thursday, the movie's first day in stores, despite being available in just the 2D format.

An early industry estimate set overall disc sales comfortably north of 4 million units, putting it well on track to become the year's top-selling release to date.

Blu-ray sales -- at 1.5 million copies -- well outpaced first-day sales of previous high-definition top dog "The Dark Knight."

Retailers sold out of 60% of their Blu-ray inventory on average, said a spokesman for distributor 20th Century Fox. He declined to specify unit shipments. Mass merchants moved out roughly 50% of their "Avatar" DVDs, the spokesman added.

Due to the epic's ecological theme, Fox broke with the industry's Tuesday release date norm and scheduled the release to coincide with Earth Day. Cameron and others connected to the film have been participating in a host of green-themed events as part of the movie's home-entertainment campaign.

A 3D version of the picture is expected to hit Blu-ray Disc early next year. Fox and the filmmakers wanted to wait until a greater number of homes were equipped with 3D Blu-ray players. Though 3D-enabled players only recently became available, virtually all new Blu-ray players will boast that capability by year's end. The first DVDs lack even special features of the sort typically included on disc releases. A special edition release is expected to hit stores in November and will include extensive bonus features.

Despite the lean-and-mean nature of the release, Fox figures "Avatar" eventually will surpass "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" as the year's best-selling disc. "New Moon" moved 4 million units in its first two days -- after launching on a Friday, at midnight -- and has sold 6.5 million copies on DVD and Blu-ray to date.

Many Best Buy locations and other retailers stayed open until midnight Wednesday to allow witching-hour early birds to flock to stores and snatch the first "Avatar" discs.

<p>A scene from the film "Avatar" is shown in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters February 2, 2010. REUTERS/WETA/Fox Pictures/Handout</p>