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From USA Today:
The King cometh: The "barebones" Return of the King DVD is due Tuesday.
New Line Cinema
The question on the minds of many: Can any '04 release top Finding Nemo's 21.5 million DVDs sold?
Peter Jackson's final chapter of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, which brought in $376 million at the box office, will rule in sales this week, with little notable competition among new titles.
But Return of the King faces big-time competition for the year. The major players:
The Passion of the Christ (Aug. 31, $30). The surprise blockbuster is a notch below Return of the King, at No. 7, on the all-time box office chart, and that could indicate a close race. If churches buy in bulk as they did at the movies, it could be huge. Passion "is the real wild card," says Scott Hettrick, editor in chief of DVD Exclusive magazine. "It is really hard to predict how it will do on DVD. It could be a runaway success and get to that 25-million-plus stratosphere."
Star Wars Trilogy (Sept. 21, $70). The movies make their DVD debut in a four-disc set, along with lots of extras. The trilogy has been the most-requested DVD since the format launched and should sell millions. But its price tag is steep, and the movies won't be available individually. Yet Video Store Magazine's research director Judith McCourt says: "With Star Wars, anything is possible."
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($30, New Line) may not be as loaded with extras as the four-disc extended edition due later this year, but its bonus disc includes:
Two making-of documentaries.
Among tidbits is Peter Jackson, first as a young, thin, clean-shaven aspiring filmmaker and, later, riding a bike around the set.
A National Geographic special that compares Rings themes with history.
Two-minute segments (first posted on lordoftherings.net) that delve into characters and special effects.
Movie trailers, TV commercials and a Battle for Middle-earth video game preview.
Shrek 2 (not announced but expected at the holidays). Even though Spider-Man 2 and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban also are expected at the holidays, industry experts predict Shrek will be the season's breakout. Live-action blockbusters typically can sell 18 million DVDs; animated titles have topped that because they appeal to a wider age range. "Given that track record, Shrek 2 has the best chance" to top Nemo, Hettrick says. Also in Shrek's corner: For the first year since DVD hit the mainstream, Disney doesn't have a monster animated film scheduled.
But, McCourt says, "there's always a summer surprise (at theaters), and I don't know what that is going to be this year."
Don't count out King for the DVD-selling crown At Borders, public relations manager Jenie Dahlmann says the release will benefit from being first and having little competition. "We have seen that any Rings DVD has been increasing in popularity. We don't see the enthusiasm dying; we see it growing," she says.
King "is rounding out someone's collection. We think it's going to be huge."
The movie's studio, New Line, hopes the entire franchise gets a boost. It's also releasing Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy ($90), a six-disc collection of the three theatrical versions. The studio expects sales of the first two to increase as well. The 11 Oscars won by King "add credibility to it as one 10-hour movie," New Line's Matt Lasorsa says. "We have tremendous expectations because this is the completion of the trilogy."