Launch events with cast members like Amanda Stenberg ("Rue")… (Amanda Schwab )
"The Hunger Games" put life into the stagnant home entertainment market this weekend, as fans snatched up 3.8 million DVDs and Blu-ray discs in the title's first two days on sale in the U.S. and Canada.
That's more than either of the last two "Twilight" films, whose launch pattern" The Hunger Games" mimicked. In February of this year, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1" sold 3.2 million DVDs and Blu-rays on its first weekend, while "Eclipse" debuted to 2.7 million units in December 2010.
However, "The Hunger Games" could not surpass "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which sold 4 million discs on its first weekend in March 2010, when the DVD sales market was somewhat stronger. The first "Twilight" sold 3.8 million DVDs and Blu-ray discs in its debut in March 2009.
While DVDs traditionally go on sale on Tuesday, "Twilight's" studio Summit Entertainment has successfully turned the DVD debuts for its vampire saga into events for teenagers by launching them on Saturdays. Lionsgate, which acquired Summit in January, followed an identical strategy for "The Hunger Games," to great success.
About 1.3 million of the "Hunger Games" discs bought by fans were high-definition Blu-ray format, which are more profitable for the studio than standard-definition DVDs.
(The standard retail price for the two-disc DVD set is $30.98; the two-disc Blu-ray set is $39.99. But most stores were selling "The Hunger Games" at a discount. Amazon.com and Best Buy were both selling the titles for about half the retail rate.)
The studio launched what executives called their most aggressive marketing campaign ever to promote the home entertainment launch of the movie, which grossed a spectacular $408 million at the domestic box office, more than any "Twilight" picture.
In addition to an aggressive advertising campaign on social media platforms and television, several supporting cast members appeared at Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and other stores for sales events.
Lionsgate did not release digital sales or rental figures. The company said only that "The Hunger Games" set a record for the most ever sales through Zune, Microsoft's digital media store on its Xbox 360 video games console, the most total sales and rental transactions from Comcast, and the highest-ever single-day revenue for a Lionsgate title on Apple's iTunes Store.
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