On first day, `Ray' DVD off to a fast start

Landing a copy of the film isn't easy, buyers find

February 02, 2005|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Ray Charles has a lot of friends here in Baltimore, and seemingly most of them were out yesterday to add his movie to their collection.

Ray, starring Jamie Foxx as the legendary soul-rock-blues-country singer and nominated for six Oscars, went on sale throughout the country yesterday on DVD. And while its distributor, Universal Studios Home Video, wouldn't say how many units were shipped, clearly not enough of them made it to Charm City.

"Targets, Kmarts, all of them were sold out," complained Darlene Brown, a security guard at Sinai Hospital who enlisted her daughter to start making calls early yesterday afternoon. As soon as Brown got off work, she started hunting for one of the elusive DVDs herself.

A quick check of area Wal-Marts showed that most were sold out of the DVD by dinnertime.

A call to the Owings Mills store was met with the greeting, "Are you looking for Ray?" If you were, you were out of luck; the store's 200 copies were gone by mid-afternoon.

Similarly empty shelves greeted visitors at Wal-Marts in Ellicott City (where about 300 had flown off the shelves by 1 p.m., according to an associate working the register), Catonsville, Port Covington and Hunt Valley. The store on Petrie Way in Baltimore had six left by 5:30 p.m. Stores in Glen Burnie and Dundalk reported brisk sales, but still had some in stock.

(Those whose hunt for Ray proved unsuccessful yesterday, take heart: Most stores that ran out promised to have plenty in stock today.)

"It's a hot title," said Kurt Indvik, editor of the California-based Video Store Magazine. "It's the only high-profile title out there with a lot of Academy Award nominations."

True enough. Among the five films nominated for best picture Oscars, it's the only one available on DVD. (It's also still playing on 526 movie screens nationwide, and has brought in $73.8 million at the box office through Sunday, according to Exhibitor Relations, a California-based company that tracks such things).

But something else was at play yesterday, something that had less to do with the movie or the potential Oscars (to be awarded Feb. 27) than with the public's love and respect for one of the giants of 20th-century American music.

"It was such a good movie," said Brown, who finally tracked down a copy at the Woodlawn Best Buy. "And because of who it is [about], I want to keep it in my collection."

Sun staff writer Tanika White contributed to this article.

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