NEW YORK – Lord of the Rings grossed more than $312-million at the box office -- but that's only the beginning.
The DVD of the Oscar-winning fantasy movie which hits stores next Tuesday is shaping up as the biggest event yet in the short but very lucrative history of the little disc.
"This will be the biggest DVD release of this year and possibly the biggest DVD release ever for us," says David Lang, president and CEO of CD World, a chain with 10 stores in New Jersey.
The best selling DVD since the format became popular is Shrek, but Rings poses the first real threat to the title since its release last year.
Yesterday, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings was at the top of Amazon.com's 100 best selling DVD list -- even though it's not available for another week. There have been some sightings of smaller video stores selling the film early, against the studio's wishes.
"We're ready to match all demand at the street release date as well as in the coming weeks," said Justine Brody, vice president marketing and promotions for New Line Home Entertainment.
Brody declined to say how many copies of the DVD the studio has manufactured to meet the expected high demand.
Anticipation among the film's fans for the two-disc set has been building for weeks. To make sure the rest of us know about it, the studio is spending $45 million on advertising.
Experts are predicting Ring will be the biggest selling DVD of all-time.
Lang said he's got about 2,000 copies of the DVD ready to go in Jersey stores -- more than three-times the amount he usually stocks when a regular movie is released on disc.
"And our suppliers have more set aside for us if we need them," says Lang. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."
Lang says his stores won't be open late Monday night to accommodate the distribution date, which begins Tuesday morning at 12 a.m.
Last year some chains stayed open late when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out on DVD. But it turns out keeping a store open into the wee-hours is more of a publicity stunt than a sales driver.
"We'll stay open for Bruce Springsteen [whose new album hit stores this week], not Lord of the Rings, " said Lang. The edition of Rings that bows next week will be the first of three editions that are part of producer New Line Cinema's shrewd marketing campaign next fall, before the second installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy, The Two Towers, is released.
The DVD coming out next week will contain the film as it was seen in theaters last fall, and three behind-the-scenes featurettes and other extras. There will be two versions, wide-screen and full-screen.
Typically, both versions of a movie are available on the same disc, but in this case the three-hour plus film wouldn't fit.
The version coming out on Nov. 12 will contain an extended version of the film with 30-minutes worth of scenes that were edited out of the original.
It will also feature a slew of behind-the-scenes documentaries and interviews that were not available on the first edition.
The third version of the DVD will be a gift-box set containing the extended version, a pair of miniature statues from the movie plus magazines, cards and other memorabilia from the movie.