'Titanic' sets out on video voyage Promotion: Eager fans drop by Blockbuster stores around the nation for film's maiden trip to video shelves.

September 01, 1998|By Judith Forman | Judith Forman,SUN STAFF

Clad in her pajamas, blond hair stringing wet, Megan Shepter, 14, waited at Blockbuster Video for her ship to come in early this morning.

"I did all my summer reading this weekend, so I didn't have to read tonight," said the freshman at Friends School of Baltimore, who starts classes today. "It's 'Titanic.' It's coming out in Blockbuster.

"It's not going to ever come out again. If I fall asleep in geometry tomorrow, it's OK, because I got to see "Titanic' come out."

Megan was one of about 30 people who showed up at the giant video store on York Road in Timonium to get their hands on "Titanic" -- literally the first minute possible. The three-hour-and-14-minute flick, starring teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, made its nationwide video debut at 12: 01 this morning. Most of Blockbuster's 4,000 U.S. stores stayed open until 2 a.m. to sell and rent it.

Although the midnight release was heavily promoted at Blockbuster, with free posters and a sweepstakes for a cruise, by 12: 15 the store was empty of "Titanic" shoppers, and employees were stacking the shelves with 360 rental copies.

Bruce Roper, store manager, said orders for the movie had been coming in for the past month and had set a record, but he was unable to provide any numbers. He has twice the number of movies to sell as had been ordered.

"It's such a talked-about movie, he said. "I know people who've seen it two, three, four times. I've seen it once and I enjoyed it, but it's not the kind of movie I want to see six or seven times in a two-month period."

Roper, 52, said the last big pop-culture frenzy he's seen like this was Beatlemania.

Ken Taylor, 51, of Timonium and his daughter, Joanna, 10, popped into the store at 11: 45 p.m. to buy Joanna's copy. "This is the only reason why I'd be up this late," said Taylor, who has yet to see the movie. "I'll probably refuse to watch it at home. School starts next Wednesday. If it had been a school night, this wouldn't have happened. We would have eventually gotten it, but not in this manner."

Brooke Young, 18, of Glyndon came in to get change for a $10, but had no idea that the video was going on sale. "Oh my god! They are releasing 'Titanic' tonight, aren't they," she said to the small crowd that had formed. "I go to an all-girls school, and the ninth grade is definitely insane about Leonardo and in love with him."

Between 20 million and 26 million videocassettes from Paramount sailed into stores this weekend, a record high for pre-sale copies, according to industry estimates. The double tape set is priced between $14 and $25 at retailers and online movie store www.Reel.com.

"Titanic" has already brought in $600 million in U.S. theaters, making it the all-time box-office champion. Worldwide, the winner of 11 Oscars, including best picture, has raked in $1.8 billion.

"I'm going home and going to bed," said a weary Megan as she headed out the door with her copy in hand. "I'm not watching it tonight. I have ninth-grade tomorrow."

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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